This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Raveled Tightrope Knot. 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 cheating, BDSM, bullying, rape, dubious consent (dubcon), obsession, and sextortion/blackmail, as it appears in the manga.
Natsuki has carried a torch for Haruomi since they were in high school together. Unfortunately, due to his own insecurities, Natsuki rejected Haruomi when Haruomi confessed to him, and from that point on, they never really spoke again. Years pass, and at a wedding, Natsuki runs into Haruomi. However, Haruomi is no longer the shy, nerdy kid he knew in high school. Instead, Haruomi has become alluring and hypersexual. He's nothing like the innocent Haruomi he tried to protect by rejecting him all those years ago.
To make up for lost time and for his regret over rejecting Haruomi, Natsuki is determined to get close to Haruomi once again. Though Haruomi still cares for Natsuki, he's no longer the shy and innocent boy. He's got jealous lovers Natsuki has to contend with, plus Haruomi is quick to put up a wall between them. Can Natsuki win back a distrustful Haruomi's heart? Or will a decision he made in high school ruin any chance he has with his long-lost love?
The art is hit-or-miss for me. Haruomi's hair and ears are weird, and the face shapes can be wonky. However, it's to my taste about 75% of the time, so it's fine. When Haruomi looks pretty, he looks super pretty, especially during the sex scenes. I wish that same energy was carried through to other scenes, but it's fine for the most part. I typically like long hair on men, but with Haruomi, it sometimes looks awkward and, frankly, ugly. It's sad that he looks gorgeous as often as he does, only to be dragged down by his hairstyle.
Now, for the story itself, let's talk about some setups. The main reason that Natsuki rejected Haruomi in the past was that he was scared he would defile the innocent Haruomi back in their youth. However, as it turns out, Haruomi developed his own masochistic tendencies as an adult, which aligns very well with Natsuki's somewhat sadistic predilections. However, while we have this really nice setup between the two, it actually doesn't really go anywhere. We see more BDSM and kink from Haruomi and other people than we do between Natsuki and Haruomi, which is unfortunate. Having found that their preferences align, I wish we got more BDSM-heavy scenes between the couple, but we really don't. It is rough but doesn't get all that deep into BDSM, specifically.
Another thing that bothers me is the scene where Natsuki gets frustrated over Haruomi's unwillingness to leave one of his long-term sex partners. So Natsuki ends up punishing him with sex. All the while, Haruomi is telling him he doesn't want to. It feels a bit hypocritical when Natsuki says that he wants to protect Haruomi and stop others from hurting him, only to hurt him by essentially raping him. This is very reminiscent of Crash Into Me, which I reviewed fairly recently. The main difference is that the male lead and main character in this work isn't meant to be a big puppy dog-type like in Crash Into Me, which makes the cruelty more understandable, though not any less intolerable. I am a big fan of sadistic tops, but this is pretty clearly rape, and I'm not a fan of that.
I feel like I've been pretty hard on this piece, but it isn't all that bad. It has some rough points, but I love the story arc overall. It almost feels a bit like a revenge story with how Haruomi seduces Natsuki and tells him how it's Natsuki's fault that he turned out this way. It is very interesting and satisfying when we get to see Haruomi's background and how he became the person Natsuki meets later on. Haruomi is definitely the best part of this entire piece to me. I would say this is worth reading just for him if nothing else.
This is a very solid and succinct piece. I certainly can't recommend this to everyone due to the dark nature of the work and the questionable consent, but it's still a very strong and sexy story overall. I wish the artwork was more consistent and stronger, but it's not terrible by any means.
Have you read Raveled Tightrope Knot? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!