Love not. (Yeah, I know, it's obvious.)
Writer/Artist: Hiroko Ishimaru
Translation: Sachiko Sato
Adaptation: Sachiko Sato
What They Say
Keigo Someha, a private detective and assassin, finds himself nursing Emiya Nozaki - who had an unbelievable, near-death experience right in front of his house - back to health. Emiya knows virtually nothing about sex and everyday life, thus Keigo feels that it is essential to shield him from the world's perversions. Meanwhile, Hamuro becomes fixated when he discovers Emiya's unique power, and he cunningly lures Emiya into a research institute!
Sporting DMP's new thrifty trappings, this single cover volume has gives us Keigo and Emiya on both front and back covers. Along with the demise of the dustcover, there is no color insert. But be assured, the usual DMP advertisements are here and we do get the author after word.
Print quality is fine and the paper type is not my favorite, but it does reproduce clear images without muddiness or moire.
Hiroko Ishimaru's art style isn't very distinctive, but it gets the job done. It's rougher than that of her later work, Total Surrender, but this roughness doesn't sacrifice character consistency -she is never off-model. The look of the pages is pleasing with the energy of the panel placement suitable to the tone of the story, and good light and dark balance. There is quite a lot of tone used and it's used well.
Sfx are translated and placed unobtrusively near the originals. The text reads well with no obvious errors or unsuitable localizations.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Keigo Someha is a private detective with a "super-secret" job as an assassin. Waking up one morning after an evening of detecting and assassinating, he finds a young man prone and unconscious outside his door. Of course, he can't leave him there, so he brings him in. Upon gaining consciousness, the difficult young man asks if he can stay and demonstrates his usefulness by providing Keigo with the whereabouts of a suspect he had been seeking. Keigo allows him to stay, but makes a point of finding out this mysterious young man.
And find out he does in an undeniably convenient way - he's asked to find him.
Emiya Nozaki, on the run from a "super-secret" government agency, has the ability to predict events, and his seclusion and loneliness as a government weapon of sorts have driven him to escape. Keigo is so taken up with Emiya that he protects him rather than turn him in to the agency. Through sharing simple pleasures and some naughty ones, Keigo and Emiya come upon the solution to Emiya's dilemma.
Hiroko Ishimaru, whose later work, Total Surrender, was published in English by DMP in September 2008, really misses the mark with Love Knot. From an interesting premise, the work goes nowhere. There is no real story development and the backgrounds of the characters become merely an opportunity for labels, making her characters too much like BL paper dolls. Keigo is an assassin, though it hardly matters to the story -he could have been a plumber. Emiya's precognition/esp isn't used very effectively either. We never see any demonstration of it that is really meaningful to the relationship except as a convenient plot device. And what about the villain of the piece, Mr. Hamuro? He is introduced as savage taskmaster and ultimately, a would-be rapist. Yet, he becomes a simpering softie when his loving subordinates vow to aid him after Emiya is no longer under his control. The mangaka obviously likes these characters a lot, so much so that she seems to forget that they need to do something meaningful in a plausible environment.
This would have read better as a short story where we would all be a lot more forgiving of the neglect the story got. After all, this is an old story, that of the sheltered, naive young man, who is finally shown love and kindness along with a world he hadn't realized existed. We've read it many times before, but with better "wrapping". If you want to read Hiroko Ishimaru, Total Surrender is a more satisfying read. The short stories in Total Surrender can be predictable and corny at times, but they're put together nicely and the artwork is much more solid and confident.