Honto Yajuu / Like the Beast is a manga that I actually tried to read once before, but bounced out of because I initially found the art style and the premise a little too… silly? But, when I was thinking that I might be doing a podcast about yakuza-themed yaoi, I tried it again. The second time, it stuck. I found a lot to enjoy in this one.
Part of my initial problem is that the characters look like they’re babies.
But, if you can find it in you, like I did, the second time through, to literally look past that, the story is fairly fun.
I tend to really enjoy romances where the love interest basically bullies their way into someone’s heart, by just sort of continuing to show up and be around. I basically did this to win my wife, so I mean, it works for me on a very personal level.
The set-up for Honto Yajuu/Like the Beast is that our hero, Ueda Tomoharu, is a police officer. He’s got a nice, quiet beat in a koban, a police station. He ends up meeting a yakuza boss, Gotouda Aki, under odd circumstances. Gotouda shows up at his apartment to offer payment for services rendered, looking very much like the mafioso that he is. The problem is that Ueda has no idea who this guy is. Until he remembers that the night before he’d chased down an underwear thief. A cute guy had been running after the thief in order to… get his underwear back. Cute guy turned out to be Gotouda without his hair all slicked back and out of his garish mob clothes.
As the story progresses, you’ll see these two themes come back again and again: Gotouda is almost unrecognizably KAWAII out of his get-up with his hair down, and he has absolutely hideous fashion sense, even for a flashy mobster.
Their love affair is kind of weirdly adorable. Gotouda blurts out that he fell for Ueda instantly, and Ueda, at a loss for how to respond to this sudden confession, suggests they get to know each other first. But, he manages to phrase it as “Let’s go out a few times.” So as far as our mob boss is concerned, they’re now dating. Of course, Ueda was basically straight previous to this, so it takes a while for things to progress.
Though not as long as you’d expect.
What I also love about these two? Once they start having sex, they both want to have it ALL THE TIME.
There are a number of various adventures they go on, but my favorites all involve the times when Ueda, the lawful good cop, ends up having to play the part of a mafia guy. One, he looks great, and, two, takes to it surprisingly well, which is kind of sexy? It’s like that one Captain America moment in “Avengers: Endgame,” you know the one.
I have to admit that I generally love the odd couple dynamic, too. So, this one ended up really working for me. Any time their lifestyles clashed (which was pretty much always,) I enjoyed it.
As a bonus, if you end up being as charmed by this one as I was, there is also a LOT of it to consume. Currently, there are thirty some chapters.