Despite a small injection of mystery and intrigue, this average yaoi manga is what it is: an average yaoi manga.
Writer/Artist: Akira Kanbe and Minori Shima
Translator: Melanie Schoen
Adaptation: Melanie Schoen
What They Say:
During the day, Maya is a handsome, perfect honors student, but at night, he becomes a completely different person, voluptuous and lecherous. Even as university student Kazuma renounces Maya's duality, he grows strongly attracted to him. Before long the young parliamentarian Tanabe begins to pull Maya's strings like a puppet, but when Kazuma finds out Tanabe's been using Maya for political ends.. A mysterious love story full of passion from the duo of Kanbe and Shima!
What We Say:
June's cover for Hot Limit is nothing that you haven't seen before—if you're into yaoi, of course. In other words, although the cover only features benign cuddling between main characters Kazuma and Shinya, you'll want it off the coffee table if your grandmother visits. For everyone else, it's a pretty unexciting pose, which probably isn't something you want to say about a manga that's supposed to be erotic. The back cover is worth a mention since it contains a saucy image of “Maya,” Shinya's out-of-control alter-ego. It's an interesting contrast. Hot Limit contains little bonus material to speak of, though there is a “Free Talk” session wherein artist Akira Kanbe and writer Minori Shima talk back and forth about the inspiration behind the characters.
The artwork in Hot Limit is very fluffy but has little substance. It's very pretty to look at, with every boy coming off as cute and squeaky-clean. The shallow art style does the manga a disservice; when characters like Maya/Shinya are described as “beautiful,” it means nothing because everyone in the manga is beautiful. It's pretty typical stuff for a yaoi manga: instant gratification, but no lingering afterglow, so to speak.
Most of Hot Limit's sound effects remain in Japanese, though there are English translation above them. Though the method is spartan, it's effective and doesn't get in the way of the artwork or writing. The English adaptation is well done, but with a common spelling error here or there (there is no such dog breed as a “German shepard”). The characters don't have any more depth than the average yaoi manga cast, but they're not painful to read, either.
Kazuma is a borderline college dropout who works odd jobs to pass the time and earn the rent. While working his night time shift at the bar, Kazuma meets “Maya,” a seductive pretty boy who drives men wild with his games of hard-to-get. Kazuma turns the tables by refusing Maya's advances, which intrigues the lustful Maya.
When Kazuma accepts a job as a servant for a rich family, he's surprised to learn he'll be working for Maya and his family. However, Kazuma quickly discovers that his new charge has two very distinct personalities: “Shinya,” a docile and timid student and “Maya,” the raging sexaholic he's already familiar with.
Kazuma also learns about Tooru, a rich businessman who plays a big role in Shinya's personality shifts. Tooru claims to love Shinya, but Kazuma comes to realise that there's nothing affectionate about Tooru's stake on Shinya.
Everybody laughs at the proverbial “story” that outlines most erotica and pornography (“Hey ma'am, don't you have money to pay for this pizza?”), but Hot Limit really does try to deliver an intriguing mystery. It succeeds at least partially: finding out the reasons behind Shinya's split personality and Tooru's aggressive affection is an adequate distraction.
But in other ways, Hot Limit remains completely entrenched in yaoi stereotypes. To begin with, Kazuma doesn't begin the story gay, but as soon as he meets Maya, he can't help himself. There's certainly a lot of mystery behind human sexuality, but it seems like Kazuma's love for Shinya/Maya blossoms out of nowhere.
I have a general rule about yaoi: if the story's no good, and it often isn't, the sex may as well be hot. Hot Limit's content is more lukewarm than hot, however. More pages are dedicated to feeble attempts at building a relationship between Kazuma and Shinya than letting the two of them just get it on like monkeys.
In other words, Hot Limit's story comes close but doesn't satisfy, and the same can be said of the sex.