This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series . While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to death, religion, gossiping, illness, blood, sexual assault, dubious consent, violence, inappropriate student-teacher relationship, statutory rape, confinement, adoption, murder, disability, orphans, homelessness, child abuse, divorce, sexism, arranged marriage, debt, epidemic/pandemic, depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and prejudice, as it appears in the manga.
Aki's family is cursed, specifically on his mother's side. Unfortunately, the curse isn't limited to his mother's side. His father, who married in, suffered from the same affliction and ended up with the same fate as Aki's mother and many other family members over the years: death. The only one left is Aki's grandfather, who is frail and sick, just like all of his family members who passed before him. In his final moments, Aki's grandfather tells Aki about someone who can help him survive the curse but doesn't provide much more information before he passes.
On his own, Aki is doing his best to get through life but grows frail as he is struck with an incurable disease he attributes to the curse. After passing out and being unable to return to work, Aki is desperate to keep himself alive and beat the curse. As he is on the cusp of succumbing to the curse, he follows his grandfather's advice and finds a bone hidden away. Disheartened by the useless discovery, Aki is ready to accept his fate when he gets blood on the bone, causing it to grow and expand with more bones, flesh, muscles, and skin, until it takes the form of a half-man, half-god.
As it turns out, Aki's family acquired a guardian deity. The reason Aki's grandfather was able to live to old age is that this guardian deity helped consume the curse, prolonging his life. Aki can hardly believe it until the deity reaches into his body and pulls out a part of the curse, providing instant relief. Unfortunately, the best way for this deity to find the curse is to be intimate with the person. Now that Aki has completed the contract by giving the deity a name, Setsu, he has to suffer through the uncomfortable touch to keep himself alive. Even as he continues to claim he dislikes it all, he finds himself looking forward to the pleasure he can receive from Setsu. Once Setsu isn't needed anymore, he'll turn back into bone. Once the curse is cured, can Aki return to a life without Setsu?
The art is fine. It can be inconsistent occasionally, and I'm not too fond of Setsu's design, but it's not bad at all. Some key character designs really speak to me. Keiichiro is a bubbly older man whose design reflects his age in contrast to his youthful spirit, which I love. Tsumugi starts as a high school student and is Keiichiro's stepson. He's got a similar brightness to Keiichiro, and his design is very light and open. He is a precious bean. Finally, there is master Kurayori, a human-kitsune spirit hybrid. He has two different human forms, his guardian-kitsune form and a disguised full human form, both beautiful and alluring. The best part about his design is that he is a 60-year-old man who has gained youth from combining with a kitsune, so he has the old man personality with the beauty of a young man, counter to Keiichiro, which is so fun. It's great. I could mention plenty of other characters, but these are my favorites.
I almost didn't finish this one because of the main couple, Aki and Setsu. I just wasn't a big fan of Setsu, to begin with, and Aki was a bit more prickly than I care for when it comes to tsundere types. I like them individually, but their romance doesn't feel believable. It is very much hate-to-love, which I typically like, but I don't really ever see a moment when it makes that switch. On the other hand, our other two couples, Tetsu and Keiichiro, and Tsumugi and Kurayori, are great. They are definitely worth reading this series for, in my opinion. My second favorite is between Tsumugi and Kurayori, which is mainly due to the age thing. If you've read my reviews in the past, you know I am not big on age gaps when someone is a full-fledged adult (Kurayori) and a high schooler under the age of eighteen (Tsumugi). I love age gaps between two adults, but it's super uncomfy when one is a child and another is an adult. I know this is fiction, but it's still not an element I enjoy. It gives off grooming vibes, especially since Tsumugi has been groomed to be Kurayori's bride since childhood.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Tetsu and Keiichiro. This is some age gap I love. Keiichiro is the museum director where Aki and Tetsu work, and he's adorable. I love a cute older man with a bright disposition, which is what Keiichiro is. Tetsu is a cold and awkward daddy type, whose constantly being tugged along by Keiichiro. This is one of those pairings that just tugs at my heartstrings. I wish we had more of them because this is the least problematic and most realistic romantically for me. The other couples are fine, and I don't hate any of them, but this was just the strongest of the three. I'm so sad we only get one ero scene with them, and it's at the end of the series, but it was nice to see their relationship develop and eventually reveal how their dynamic changes in the bedroom. They're so fun, and I love them.
There is technically a fourth couple, but I am not sure that I'd even consider them a couple since we don't see much of them beyond their cruelty between each other and their emotionless sex. While Tsumugi and Kurayori made me uncomfortable, Kai and Yuichi are even worse for me since Kai takes the form of a middle schooler because Yuichi treats him nicer that way. They seem only to have sex when Kai is in his adult form, but it's still super uncomfy to me. I will say I do like the idea of Yuichi trying to find a way to revive his dead wife by trying to leverage the way gods and deities turn back and forth from a bone to a living being. That was a clever solution and makes for a believable villain.
Before we finish this, I want to note that the first volume has some extra stories that aren't part of the main story. One of them includes a relationship between a teacher and his student. Again, I'm not a fan of this kind of age gap. If you're not a fan either, skip the side story. There's another side story where the younger man's age isn't made clear, but he comes off fairly young to me, so I was pretty mixed there. It seems like this author tends to enjoy the very young and innocent partner alongside a much older partner, so I assume this is the same uncomfy age gap I'm not a fan of. I just wanted to note that in case you'd prefer to skip these scenarios, especially since they don't play on the main plot.
Overall, this was ok. I could have done without our first couple, and I wish the age gaps were exclusively between adults. Again, I am totally aware this is fiction, and everyone has their preferences for these things, but I want to note these things for people like myself who would prefer to avoid these scenarios. I don't think this is bad. It's just not my favorite series in the world. I will say I love this author's humor, especially in the author's notes. I found myself getting excited about the notes, which is pretty rare for me.
Have you read ? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!