This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series He's a Predator. 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 poor work-life balance, confinement, obsession, bullying, suicidal ideation, harassment, sexism, sexual assault, stalking, breaking and entering, forced BDSM, and biting fetish, as it appears in the manga.
Yuma's work-life balance is all out of whack. He spends more time at work than he does at home, and even when he is at home, he's so stressed about work that all he can manage is falling asleep before heading in the next day. His only real reprieve is with his childhood friend Yasuharu, who dotes on and cares for Yuma. Yuma cares for Yashuharu, but there is one thing about Yasuharu that disturbs Yuma. Yuma has a bad habit of saying that he wants to die, and this habit is at an all-time high with all of the work stress. Whenever he says this phrase around Yasuharu, Yasuharu always responds with:
“I'll eat you.”
It's undoubtedly just a joke, but the way Yasuharu says it so seriously, Yuma can't help being bothered by it. Still, Yuma's phrase might become a reality when, after returning home from a long and strenuous day of work, Yuma passes out on his floor, but not before calling Yasuharu and asking him for help. Yasuharu comes to the rescue, ensuring Yuma is fed, rested, and gets the medical attention he needs, all of which Yuma is thankful for. But Yasuharu doesn't intend to stop here. Yasuharu demands that Yuma move in with him so Yashuharu can care for him.
Though Yuma is hesitant, the offer is too good to pass up. But is Yasuharu's offer as innocent as it seems?
The art in this is very pretty. I especially love how different Yuma's and Yasuharu's face designs are. It's not all that uncommon for some art styles and character designs to suffer from same-face syndrome. That is not at all the case here. Yuma's face and features are very angular and slanted, giving him a very cat-like look. On the other hand, Yasuharu is much more rounded, with more open features that give him an innocent puppy look. What I enjoy even more is the irony of Yasuharu's design. Yasuharu appears so cute and sweet, but beneath that innocent veneer is an obsessive predator, more wolf than the puppy he pretends to be, just as the title suggests.
I'm actually a huge fan of an obsessive top, and I really like how Yasuharu plays off his obsession in front of Yuma. Yasuharu is a smooth criminal, being so sweet and spoiling Yuma when he can. I do wish he had leaned in a bit more into the whole joking-cannibal thing. It feels like a bit of a throwaway. Yasuharu bites Yuma a little bit and laps at his wound, but it's not anymore “cannibalistic” than something like Please Don't Bite Me So Much!. Don't get me wrong, I love a good bite fetish, but this felt a tad underwhelming when it was touted as a cannibalistic fetish, only for it to be, at most, a biting fetish (though even that is lackluster). I didn't necessarily want him to eat Yuma, but I would have liked to see him contend with his cannibalistic tendencies to protect Yuma from himself.
It was an interesting choice for Yuma's confinement to be a way to protect him, not from Yasuharu but from a separate third party. I'm not sure how I feel about the introduction of a woman stalking Yuma as an explanation for why Yasuharu ends up locking Yuma up. It feels more like a cop-out than a reasonable narrative choice, but it's not terrible. I would've preferred they just lean into Yasuharu's obsession. There was a perfect opportunity for this to happen as a last straw effort when there were panels that showed Yasuharu being worn out, working all day only to come home and take care of Yuma. Yet, all the while, Yuma is just enjoying life without Yasuharu. I think it would have been much more reasonable to have Yasuharu just snap from being overworked himself and imprisoning Yuma for that. It would have also been a nice parallel from Yuma's own snap from overwork. Yuma calls Yasuharu when he's at the end of his rope, and similarly, Yasuharu would want for Yuma when he is overworked. I think this would have been a more powerful choice than a third-party stalker, but what can you do?
I do love confinement. Though, again, it feels heavily underutilized. We only really get a foreplay scene and then a full-on sex scene, and then that's the end of the confinement. This whole thing feels like me wishing for more, more, more, and, in many cases, that might be a good thing. However, in this case, it just feels like a bunch of good ideas or fun elements cobbled together. It probably doesn't help that I reread this right after rereading The Warehouse, which is done masterfully when it comes to narrative (and has tons of confinement). They can't be compared, as one is a single manga volume while the other is a multi-season manhwa. Still, I find myself unsatisfied and wanting more.
This was very mid. I think I was a bit harsh on this in the overall review, but I didn't hate this in any way. There were just a few narrative choices that either built up something that ended up being lackluster or that would have been better utilized in another way. It's not bad, it's not good, it's just average. I do love a good obsessive top, which Yasuharu very much is, but beyond that, there's not much to write home about.
Have you read He's a Predator? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!