by Norikazu Akira
published by SuBLime Manga; $12.99 US
If you like boys’ love stories and cats, this is the perfect manga for you.
Takahashi has no purpose in life until he finds an abandoned kitten he names Shiro. One night, Shiro gets sick, and Takahashi makes a fateful deal. He’s so indebted to the big, bearish vet that saves his cat that he agrees to become his live-in housekeeper. Dr. Kumazawa needs someone to clean, cook, and do the laundry. Cue the wife jokes!
Much of the relationship in this manga comes through insinuation. Takahashi falls asleep on the sofa, so Kumazawa picks him up in his arms to carry him to bed, for instance, or one accidentally sees the other naked. Kumazawa even refers to Takahashi as his cat.
The art has more detail and background than I’ve noticed in other yaoi manga. The men do have the exaggerated necks that sometimes show up in the genre, but most importantly, the actual cat, Shiro, is cute.
My favorite part were the bits of pet care information, as when the vet lectures Takahashi about how to be a responsible owner. There’s even a short intermission chapter where the two joke about what the manga is about before providing information on how one becomes a veterinary nurse in Japan.
As the two spend time together, Takahashi is inspired to become more responsible and learn to care for animals, while Kumazawa puts off being set up with a wife as he grows more comfortable with the younger man. Ultimately, as the two become more comfortable with each other, their feelings deepen, leading to the final two chapters, which finally become a love story (with the requisite sex scenes, too). The quiet, slow development of that aspect made this a boys’ love story enjoyable to more general manga readers.
Honey Darling is also available digitally. (The publisher provided a review copy.)