It's been more than a year since the release of first volume, but once again Love Control proves it a simple task to slip right into a story, becoming utterly captivated and charmed by its leading men.
Writer/Artist: Ai Hasukawa
Translation: Melanie Schoen
Adaptation: Melanie Schoen
What They Say
The love between a company president and a designer: as always, it's give-and-take, with neither one giving an inch - but that's been the case with Okumura and Yamashiro for ages. But what will happen when they both spy the charming young bartender, Sasatani? This time, the popular Sasatani's version of events is included in the second volume of this popular series.
When we last left off, restaurant mogul Okamura and interior designer Yamashiro had fallen prey to passionate love after a long battle of will and pride. Devoting two more chapters to Okamura and Yamashiro, this volume gives them the chance to solidify their new relationship by overcoming the usual obstacles and misunderstandings.
The first of such obstacles is Sasatani, a new bartender at Okamura's bar who's got his sights set on one of our dashing pair. Believing it the only way to win the heart of his beloved, Sasatani's keen to create insecurities between the lovers. Naturally his overtures create plenty of opportunities, with Yamashiro getting the most noticeably agitated by the whole affair. This is as to be expected, but we later learn that Okamura is not immune to worry either. The second of a two-pronged attack on Yamashiro's confidence is Okamura's beautiful business colleague Ishakawa, whom Yamashiro finds in his lover's presence with increasing regularity. Honestly, she is clearly dismissible as a threat but don't tell Yamashiro that -- such prideful men are preternaturally prone to raging jealousy and it makes the story work just that much better. (Thankfully the situation with her does not detour into feelings of insecurity based on gender -- nothing would ruin the perception of these characters more.) Eventually Okamura and Yamashiro come to their senses and realize happy endings can only come from their own romantic mush.
Perhaps because he's not truly a threat, we don't learn much about Sasatani in the main story, but the second half of the book is devoted to a new romance for him. Though it trots out a tired beginning - a straight guy falling inexplicably for his aloof rescuer - it actually ends up a rather cute story wherein Sasatani has the chance to turn his bullying-seme talents on an innocent, naïve uke pursuer. This pair lacks the simmering tensions of the main couple, but offers a good switch-up in pursuit dynamics and Sasatani impresses with his occasional Okamura-like traits and smoldering gaze.
The story Hasukawa tells in Love Control is a little shallow and certainly nothing new, yet it is executed with all the flair and elegance befitting its elite businessmen leads. The dripping sensuality, confident airs, and even blatant arrogance of the characters are so ripe on the page; but so, too, are their hurt feelings and honest gestures, which we see more often in this volume. A cynical reader may be bored by the angst – their relationship is obviously never in any real danger – but watching these two men become utterly controlled by their feelings and seeing their confident, stoic act being put to the test is pleasing in a voyeuristically sadistic sort of way.
How this succeeds in spite of such typical storylines is really in the marvelous way Hasukawa has with expressions. Whole stories can reside in the looks on the characters' faces and in their body language. It's obvious, then, that the layout and composition should play to this strength, focusing primarily on close up-shots and atmosphere. It really works though; after a dozen pages, the artwork was so easy to get caught up in that the text seemed secondary to telling the story.
For June's part, the text looks good and the script is very readable, but sense of voice comes through best when matched with the art, so be sure to pay attention to the smirking mouths and shifting eyes. Honorifics are used and SFX are subtitled. The printing is a little on the dark side, which is unfortunately further hindered by Hasukawa's heavy use of tones and dark backgrounds, and there was quite a bit of bleed in my copy. Strangely, the front color plate (reproduced in black and white) is of the cover image, rather than the group shot present in the original, which can instead be found on the back cover. This volume also comes without the once-signature dust jacket, but at least the new imprint label bar (along the side, rather than the bottom) makes for a much better match to this cover than the old pink standard. Also included are the author's afterword and a bonus illustration gallery.
In summary, this is an easily-recommended series with little commitment that one shouldn't feel the least bit ashamed to call a guilty pleasure.