This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Pink Heart Jam. 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 prostitution as it appears in the manga.
Haiga is experiencing many firsts. It is his first time in college, it is his first time living in the city away from his rural home, and it is his first time faced with his sexuality. While touring his campus for the first time, Haiga sees Kanae, a beautiful man and Haiga’s upperclassman. Haiga is immediately attracted to him, but he isn’t sure if he simply admires Kanae or if he really is attracted to him as a man. Without any real reason to find out, Haiga is left on his own to wonder.
That is until his peers give him money to visit a box spa after a night of drinking. However, this particular box spa is located in the gay district, which Haiga uses to his advantage to help answer the question: does he like men or not? Of course, Haiga doesn’t expect that the person servicing him is none other than Kanae. So this is a chance for Haiga to discover his sexuality and determine if his feelings for Kanae are more than simple admiration for his upperclassman. While he is figuring that out, another question lingers in the back of Haiga’s mind: how does Kanae feel about him?
I love this so much. For how short it is, it packs a lot of really lovely emotion and character growth. With that being said, there is also plenty of sexy time, which is really nice alongside the character growth. This does a great job pairing the sexy time with the character growth as Haiga goes to the box spa to talk to Kanae. I love that we get to see Haiga really grow into himself without the internalized homophobia I feel like we usually see in BL with characters questioning their sexuality. It’s really sweet and organic. I also have to praise the fact that he isn’t swayed by the fact that Kanae is a sex worker. Sex workers deserve love, too, and Haiga is not deterred in the least by Kanae’s job, though he does ask him to quit in the beginning when he first discovers this job even exists.
I actually wasn’t all that interested in the art style… until I saw Kanae. He really is gorgeous and is probably my favorite character design of all time. He is my aesthetic, for sure. Even if I wasn’t interested in the rest of the art style, it is beautiful and consistent, which is all I can really ask for. It just wasn’t one that I was particularly attracted to. So if you are similar to me and are picky about the art, please give this one a shot. If for nothing else, do it for Kanae because his design is everything.
For me, the one downfall is the girl, Ami, that likes Haiga. As per usual, I found her to be an annoying addition. Though I understand she helps push Kanae to realize his feelings for Haiga through jealousy, I would prefer another man rather than a girl, which we do sort of end up getting later on, but most of the time, it is Ami. That might be super picky on my part, but it is a preference I have. That is a super small mark, though, and I really wouldn’t mention it in passing. I’m only saying it now since I am trying to get a thorough review.
Finally, let me just say I love a couple that communicates. They do have some childish moments of wanting to hide their feelings or wanting to have the other person confess first, but the entire series really promotes open communication. That is partly why this is so short, I am sure, because a lot of the tension is resolved relatively quickly since they communicate with each other so easily, and I am not complaining. I really loved how their relationship grew and how healthy everything ultimately was. I wish we had more content like side stories or more of an epilogue, but this was a well-written, well-paced story that I am so happy I got to experience.
This was refreshing. It was short, sweet, sexy, and really heartwarming. I highly recommend this to everyone because it is a fantastic read. If you are looking for a lighter BL read than some of the darker fair, then this is a really, really good one. There are some lovely moments in this one that I think deserve to be seen by more people. The worst thing about this is that it ends. I could live in this world for much, much longer.
Have you read Pink Heart Jam? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!