A long-awaited conclusion really delivers.
Writer/Artist: Toko Kawai
Translation: Issei Shimizu
Adaptation: Issei Shimizu
What They Say
Daisuke Matsukawa and the up-and-coming young cameraman Kentaro Nishioka have developed from comrades who work well together into friends who are called lovers. But even though he's sexy, the shy Nishioka is also obstinate and naughty. Poor Matsukawa has no idea where this love affair is headed.
Since we last saw them, Nishioka and Matsukawa have made a lot of progress in their lives. However, this comes with new challenges, too. They're happily together now, but while Matsukawa is ready to take the next step towards commitment, Nishioka is still a bit gun-shy when it comes to admitting those three little words. They're both doing well professionally, but their careers are more dissatisfying than before. The dream team advertising duo sees fewer projects these days, as Matsukawa's upward mobility takes him further from the hands-on production elements that he has enjoyed up until now. And Nishioka's mounting disappointment over clients who don't understand his work eventually takes its toll on his motivation and productivity. As the two stray farther apart in their professional lives, it's hard not to imagine it affecting their personal lives as well – Matsukawa is jealous over the time Nishioka devotes to his work with others, while Nishioka feels lonely and eventually starts to withdraw. Neither wants to hold the other back with selfish desires, yet neither really wants to let go, either. Eventually there has to be something that sets change in motion, and for Nishioka it's a call back to Osaka. Faced with leaving his life – and his love – in Tokyo, he finally finds the courage to say what he never could before. What follows is a nice, happy ending that achieves what it needs to but doesn't feel cheap or easy. That they were ready to commit, no matter what change to their lives would result, feels like a realistic culmination of their long and evolving relationship.
A couple of mid-volume side chapters also add a nice bit of fan service – but of a (mostly) different sort. Short and sweet, they are but glimpses of Nishioka and Matsukawa during simple, yet still special, moments like a first snowfall or summer festival. Their affair in these quiet moments is, in many ways, more seductive and earnest than during the events of the main body of the story. It's these recognizable moments, the kind that every couple shares, that make this couple all the more endearing to the reader.
That Kawai lets Matsukawa and Nishioka live outside their relationship, giving them imaginable challenges to confront, rather than relegating "real life" to the background is one of the best things about Loveholic. It adds dimension to the work – one not always present in boys-love – when characters must adapt their relationships in order to overcome obstacles both actual and emotional. Her characters are also flawed; they stumble over their vulnerability, insecurities and their choices, knowing they aren't always right. But the benefit here is that they're not only believable, but that they also grow.
It's been a long time since the release of volume one, but it was definitely worth the wait. I'm glad to see this series finished; it has been a wonderful addition to the domestic boys-love catalog.