by Casey Brienza,

Love Pistols

GN 1-3

Love Pistols GN 1-3
One unfortunate accident on a scooter, and Norio's life will never be the same again. People have started acting strangely—very, very strangely—around him. And, to make matters worse, they all look like animals to him! Is this just his imagination, or is there something going on in the world that Norio does not know about? Well, as it turns out, it's the latter and fellow high school student Kunimasa has the answer. Norio is a rare creature known as a “Missing Link,” and the accident activated his “Zoomanity” genes. You see, about 30% of all people, unbeknownst to the rest of us monkey descendants, are “Zoomans” with superpowers and a sometimes hidden bestial side. It's a jungle out there!

Okay, if you consider yourself easily offended—even if you also consider yourself a boy's love (BL) fan—read this review no further. Stop right here. And, May Some Higher Power Preserve You, do not under any circumstances try to crack open a volume of Tarako Kotobuki's Love Pistols. You will be traumatized for life. In fact, Love Pistols is so violently different from anything else on the BL market (in the United States or Japan) that even the most open-minded, magnanimous of souls are liable to be forever altered by an encounter with this epic, multivolume series. Fortunately, many of these people will also be forever grateful to Kotobuki and Tokyopop for one unforgettable ride on the wild side.

“Wild” is the operative word. This manga is pure science fantasy, imagining a world in which they people we think of as human are actually, about 30% of the time, descended from animals that were not primates, such as whales, bears, cats, dogs, snakes, and alligators. Those who were descended from primates—ordinary “humans”—are wholly unable to perceive the mutants, creatively called “Zoomanity” by BLU's lively prose adaptation, in their midst. Even when the zoomans essentially transform into animals, they do not notice. Yet everyone—zooman or human—can interbreed. And males, thanks to a symbiotic creature called a “womb worm,” can bear children with other males!

Needless to say, Kotobuki does not even bother trying to remember her high school biology classes when writing these background points. Now, you might be wondering how a worm that creates an extra stomach in a man's abdomen when inserted into his anus will, all by itself, allow him to bear children with another man? But you definitely should not ask. It will just drive you insane. Ditto how looking like an animal on occasion when one's spirit is distressed actually seems to involve physically transforming in an animal or man/beast amalgamation whenever Kotobuki draws it (usually for comedic impact).

Anyway, the story begins with Norio, and Kunimasa's ardent desire to have a baby with Norio, but does not stop there. Like most (but not all) multivolume BL series, Love Pistols (originally Sex Pistols in Japan but retitled here in the States by American publisher BLU for obvious reasons related to a particular punk rock band) features a large cast of characters and multiple couples who are loosely connected to each other in the world of the manga. Each couple in turn receives their own subplot as the manga progresses. The best of these is probably the one involving Kunimasa's brother, the man-hating Yonekuni and the gentle “Chairman” Shiro Fujiwara, which spans a good portion of volumes one and two.

Besides the variety of characters, however, is the variety of mood. One of Love Pistol's best assets is its humor. The first subplot, which involves Norio giving off so many pheromones that everyone is throwing themselves libidinously at him, is absolutely hilarious, and everything from the zoomans' animal forms and nature, to the ridiculous possibility of male pregnancy, is great for lowbrow humor. But this laugh out loud funny BL series is also has a very serious side, and many of the couples who get involved with each other do so only after intensely felt misunderstandings and arguments. Heck, even arranged assignations between two bears can have a romantic side. Of course, Kunimasa's “I just wanna make babies with you!” attitude toward Norio is fodder for nonstop angst, and their fumbling attempts to take their relationship to the next emotional level round off volume three.

This series would be pretty darn near perfect if it were not for the artwork. It would be overly generous even to write that Kotobuki's illustrations are an acquired taste. Her lines are bold but clunky, and some of her angles are amateurishly poor. Even so, her characters generally ooze sex appeal; most fujoshi are liable to be more forgiving than the average reader would be. In fact, some of the characters can, in selected panels be so good looking that you will forget that, despite the profoundly sexualized content of much of the manga's foundational storyline, there is relatively little in the way of actual sexual explicitness. Our heroes, for example, never seem to get around to going all the way.

Still, if you enjoy the first three volumes, you will certainly want to go all the way with Love Pistols! Perversity in one's choice of manga reading material, it seems, if Kotobuki's creation is any indication, is a habit that, enjoyed once, may well become permanently addictive.

Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : C+

+ The single most original--and weird--BL manga series on the market today. The mixture of both comedy and melodrama is divine.
Your friendly neighborhood biologist will be horrified, and this isn't for the easily offended either. Artwork is an acquired taste.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Tarako Kotobuki

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