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by Rebecca Silverman,

Mahjong Parlor of Love


Mahjong Parlor of Love GN

Shiga runs a small mahjong parlor, and recently he's been surprised by being able to hire mahjong pro Honjou to work there. It seems too good to be true – and maybe it is, because it turns out that Honjou has a definite ulterior motive: he's in love with Shiga and wants to become his husband! Also included are a spinoff about the owner and manager of a rival mahjong parlor and the story of a pachinko champ and a worker at one of the arcades he frequents.

Mahjong Parlor of Love is translated by Rhiannon Liou.


It's best to say this first: Mahjong Parlor of Love, another BL title licensed by Media Do, has a substantially better translation than previous titles from the same line that I have reviewed. The translation is fluid and natural, and if the cover shows the usual English title confusion, that's in no way an issue in the pages of the e-book itself. My only complaints on the translation/localization front are that some of the sound effects are very odd for the action they're describing (“spin” rather than “twist” for nipples) and that the book makes use of some mahjong-specific terms with no explanation of what they mean. We can guess whether a player's move is good or bad to a degree, but the art simply isn't strong enough to fully allow the mahjong-illiterate among us to come across clearly. It's a shame, because it would have been relatively easy to add in a footnote.

The art is, as you may already have guessed, one of the detrimental points here. Creator Meteo Hoshiduki has a decent enough bit of BL fluff with the story itself, but the art does hold it back. It's stiff and uneven, with characters' heights and face shapes fluctuating throughout the volume. There's distinct improvement over the course of the book, and the final chapter looks better than what comes before it, but on the whole this isn't a terrific-looking book. It's also not hugely explicit, which is neither here nor there in terms of artistic merit. There are sex scenes, but if you're looking for something really raunchy, this isn't that book, although again, it does get more detailed as the volume goes on.

There are three separate stories in the book, the longest of which follows mahjong parlor owner Shiga and his employee Honjou. Shiga's parlor is relatively small and unassuming, so he's surprised when he's able to hire mahjong pro Honjou to work for him. Honjou's a celebrity in the professional mahjong world, and he could be making much more money working at a larger venue – something he's done in the past and continues to do on occasion. But his interest and investment in working at Shiga's parlor isn't professional: he's in love with Shiga and has hopes of becoming his husband. Shiga's not sure what to do with this aspiration, but he ends up agreeing to let Honjou live with him to try it out.

The story has a decent amount of potential from this starting point. Honjou is out and comfortable with his sexuality, while Shiga gives the impression that he's not sure about much of anything outside of his business. He's surprised and a little uncomfortable with Honjou's attraction to him and the fact that he's beginning to fall for the other man as well, and there's a sense that he's always assumed himself to be straight without ever thinking about why. In a different book this would be a story about Shiga coming to terms with his own internalized homophobia as he allows himself to fall in love, and there is some evidence of that plotline here. Shiga makes some pretty substantial jerk moves as he tries to figure things out, and to his credit, Honjou does his best to deal with them. But there's honestly not a lot of depth to either the romance or the plotline, and while that's not bad, it also doesn't quite make this must-read material.

It is, however, a nice way to just turn off your brain for a bit. Honjou and Shiga's story is accompanied by a spinoff about the owner of the fancier mahjong parlor where Honjou occasionally plays a match, and that's in some ways a sweeter story, involving more consensual bumbling as the two characters try to get together and let each other know that they're serious about their relationship. There's also a one-shot short story about a man who works at a pachinko place and an expert player – this is the least consensual of the pieces and revolves around a misunderstanding: the worker wants to get the player's autograph and talk with him, but the player thinks that he's being hit on…and he's all too happy to respond in kind. This story has a couple of genuinely funny moments, such as when he reveals a cache of sex toys inside his coat in a caricature of the old, “Hey buddy, wanna buy a watch?” gag, and it's really only nonconsensual on the surface, as all of Hoshiduki's characters are good at respecting it when someone says they're not into what's going on.

Mahjong Parlor of Love is a very middle-of-the-road manga. It has elements that are good but aren't sufficiently developed, and the art does get in the way of the story at times. But if it's not a must-read, it's definitely on the “good enough” side of things for those days where you just want to read something that's mostly fluff about men falling in love.

Overall : C
Story : C
Art : C-

+ Largely consensual, relationships are fairly sweet. Better translation than other offerings from the same publisher.
Art isn't great, story doesn't go deep enough into its own plot. A few weird choices for sound effects.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Meteo Hoshiduki
Licensed by: Media Do

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Mahjong Parlor of Love (manga)

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