So, I may have started with a very ‘out there’ first ‘kuudere’ example. There’s definitely a ‘kuudere’ character in Hachi, but there’s also a threesome and… er, _actual_ bestiality–since this story takes place in a fantasy world where some people can transform into animals under the right (or wrong) circumstances, like getting stressed out, etc.
Yet… I kind of liked it?
It’s a weirdly adorable story that features a wonderful set of friends who support each other.
If you can get over the actual hedgehog/human sex? I’d highly recommend this one.
My only complaint is that I’m not fond of the heteronormativity that has characters making the choice not to just live together in a happy poly threesome forever. The idea that three people might have sex, but there’s ‘only room for one lover‘ gets floated a bunch throughout this and that makes me sad.
This mangaka needs to learn about polyamory, stat.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The story is about a French restaurant where Hachi has found employment. There’s a whole cast of characters in this manga, including a ‘married’ couple Ryuusei and his partner, a “beast kin,” named Momo. Who, when sexually excited, turns into a lion.
No surprise, Momo spends a lot of his time wandering around as an anthropomorphic lion.
But, even though we get several scenes involving Ryuusei and Momo, the story actually follows Hachi.
Hachi has been dreaming a lot about a threesome he had, years ago. His high school boyfriend, Kuma (who never turns into a bear, despite his name,) has a best friend from childhood named Hanabi that Hachi has been smitten with since they first met.
Hanabi’s name means fireworks, but he’s actually both the ‘kuudere’ and the ‘beast kin’ in this threesome. Hanabi, when nervous, turns into a hedgehog. Luckily, dude mostly has his sh*t together. He’s classically ‘kuudere’-ly unflappable.
Oh, I should probably take a moment to discuss our type of the week: kuudere. The easiest way to think of a kuudere is the Western expression ‘a cold fish’ or maybe, in the context of yaoi, ‘ice prince/ss.’ The appeal of the kuudere type is that when you get them to open up even a little, you know it’s a Big F*cking Deal.
But, so the story is mostly told as a frame for the flashback to the threesome days, and the slow realization of Hachi that, while he loves Kuma a lot, he likes Hanabi even more. Not wanting to break-up the friendship of Kuma and Hanabi, however, he broke both their hearts and left them to pursue a career in cooking.
They’ve tracked him down to the restaurant and want to talk.
The story then breaks into a long flashback where we discover how the three met. Kuma is the outgoing one and he basically gloms onto Hachi and won’t let go. Kuma is ‘canonically’ bisexual. We see him start off with a girlfriend, but he eventually dumps her in order to make his love confession to Hachi.
I kind of adore Kuma.
I was even more charmed by him when we find out from Hanabi that Kuma is usually the type who gets asked out and says ‘yes,’ and that Hachi was the very first person he ever intentionally went after.
Kuma is also the one who ends up inviting Hanabi into sex with the two of them, even though he already kind of knows that’s a dangerous proposition.
Hachi’s crush on Hanabi is pretty obvious… they make a lot of serious promises to each other on the rooftop, where their high school club meets. Like, Hanabi has a bunch of piercings that Hachi thinks are so cool, and Hanabi promises to hand-make some piercing jewelry for Hachi, should he ever get piercings of his own. Coming from ‘kuudere’ Hanabi, this promise feels very weighed, very INTENSE.
You just know he means it; he’ll follow through, no matter what.
The story of how Hanabi and Kuma became very best friends forever is also heart-tugging. In shop class, there was some kind of accident and the only person to try to catch Kuma when he fell was Hanabi. But, because he was stressed out, he turned into his hedgehog form and injured Kuma even more…. but he was also so small that he ended up in intensive care, himself.
Apparently, ‘beast kin’ isn’t a thing that runs in families. You’re just born that way. Hanabi’s family was so embarrassed to have a hedgehog in the family, they didn’t come to visit him–even though he could have died from his injuries.
Kuma decides, at this point, that he will never, ever leave Hanabi’s side.
Thus, when Hachi realizes he’s falling for Hanabi, even though he’s dating Kuma, he refuses to do anything that would break this lifelong friendship. He’s particularly worried that if Kuma and Hanabi fight, Hanabi would end up lonely forever–because he’s just too kuudere to make friends on his own.
When the three meet-up again in present time, Kuma has resolved to get Hanabi and Hachi together no matter what. There’s a very weird (funny?) situation involving handcuffs and a rowboat, but suffice to say it all works out and Hanabi and Hachi end up a happy couple with a supportive friend in Kuma forever (Kuma loves to keep asking the new couple if they’ve had sex yet.)
Which they eventually do, but… Hanabi is nervous, so….
Yeah, that part was not sexy for me, but how can you not appreciate how HAPPY Hachi looks with his hedgehog friend?
As I said at the start of this review, I can’t help but be a little sad that Kuma doesn’t get to be part of this coupling. I liked Kuma the best, personally, and, as an outgoing person, I kind of feel the sting of “well, they can more easily find someone else.” I mean, it might be true? But, I really don’t get the whole “room for only one” bull.
I really want more ‘and then the three of them lived together, happily ever after’ stories. (I may have to make that another quest, after I get through some of these personality types.)