This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Love Blooms for a Twisted Blossom (Tapas) | He's Mean Because He Likes You (Renta!). 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 stalking, sexual assault, and dubious consent (dubcon) as it appears in the manga.
Sakura has been the prettiest guy around since he was a child. He had the affection and attention of all ages and genders simply because he was so good-looking. This has gone all to his head, of course, so he is good-looking and knows it, and he fully expects to rule whatever domain he happens to be in… until high school, that is. While walking through the halls of his high school, he hears whispers of a super good-looking and cool guy named Tsukasa Yukihira. Surely, this guy can't be all that attractive. Right?
Wrong. When Sakura sees Tsukasa for the first time, he falls in love immediately, and Sakura's whole life changes to center around this mysterious beauty before him. So, Sakura changes his college plans and follows Tsukasa to college, where he spends his days hatching all manner of schemes to casually bump into Tsukasa and hopefully make him fall in love with him. But, no matter how confident Sakura is in his own looks and abilities to attract others, the moment he gets a chance to talk to Tsukasa, he finds himself running in the opposite direction.
How will Sakura lure Tsukasa to him when he's busy running away?
This is uber cute. Don't let the title fool you. While “Twisted” may be in it, there is very little dark or twisted in this story (I think the Renta! title actually works better in this case, but I read it on Tapas first, so here we are). That's not to say it isn't without some questionable moments, but it definitely leans more toward the fluffy, light side of things than anything else. Before we get into the story elements, let's talk about the art. This is a story about pretty men falling in love, and it's true, every man in this is pretty. Top or bottom, it doesn't matter: pretty, pretty, pretty. The art is very nice to look at, but there really isn't anything too exciting, either. There are the occasional odd body proportions, but it's consistent for the most part. It's your standard, pretty manga art style. Can't go wrong there.
The story is a tad superficial in that we don't get much in the way of explaining why these two are drawn to each other. Well, I say that. It's obvious why Sakura is drawn to Tsukasa. Tsukasa is hot. The end. This is pretty refreshing as a reason for being absolutely smitten by someone from the main character's side. On the other hand, Tsukasa's reason for liking Sakura is pretty stereotypical and not all that well-explored. Tsukasa likes Sakura because he saw this cute little boy as a child. Sakura, of course, doesn't remember that, nor does he recognize him as that boy. I wish this had been delved into a bit more or padded out. Instead, we get a lot of focus on Tsukasa tormenting Sakura, which was a sexy time but didn't do much in terms of narrative.
Also, this does attempt to create a love triangle with Sakura's friend, but it's pretty weak. It's hinted at pretty heavily on Kuniharu's end, but nothing really comes of it. He makes an impulsive confession to Sakura but quickly throws that away when it's clear he doesn't have a chance. Again, I wish we had more build-up and more tension. Kuniharu felt very surface-level, and with very little activity on his side of this triangle, it left me feeling like there was little to no point in the love triangle at all. I wish it had either been left out entirely or he would have had more of an active role beyond being the silent, pining third in this love triangle.
I feel like I've given this a pretty hard time, but it is pretty good. It's got some smutty goodness, and if that's all you're looking for, then I don't see why you wouldn't like this. I will say that the smut is mainly relegated to heavy petting and the like. Not much regarding penetration, but I found that rather refreshing in its own way. It's nothing unique or exciting, but it's not a bad, short read to fill the gap between more profound and more in-depth fare.
I like this just fine. It's nothing revolutionary, but it is wholly inoffensive. The men are pretty, the smut is nice, and it has a nice little after-story at the end that almost makes it worth the entire story just to read it. I do wish it had more depth, but for as short as it is, it's hard to fault it for not exploring more than it did. Again, it's a quick read with fluff and sex. What more could you want?
Have you read Love Blooms for a Twisted Blossom (Tapas) | He's Mean Because He Likes You (Renta!)? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!