This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Rough and Tumble Hana and His Lovey-Dovey Boyfriend. 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 slut-shaming, incest/questionable and inappropriate sibling relationships, gossip, superficial judgment, and violence, as it appears in the manga.
Hanamaru (also known as Hana) and Wataru have been friends for as long as they can remember. Even with Hana being a year older, they were closer than anyone else to each other, and as they grew up together, next door to each other, that closeness only grew. One day, in high school, their friendship reaches a fever pitch when Wataru confesses that he is in love with Hana and wants to be with him as his boyfriend. Hana readily agrees.
All is well in their world, but Hana is still bothered. Absolutely nothing is different, even though they're dating now. While Hana has never thought much about what it means to be with a man, he wants to explore it together with Wataru. So, with the help of his older brothers, Hana makes it a point to take their relationship to the next level. Their relationship is important, but while trying to better their intimate relationship, their school lives are strained as teachers and peers tell Wataru that Hana is a bad influence. Hana just wants to help support Wataru.
Can their relationship survive the influence of others? Or will they succumb to peer pressure?
The art is stunning. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It's very clean, consistent, and is just stunning overall. It does my picky art heart a world of good to see it. Wataru looks like a precious bean, while Hana is much rougher around the edges and looks like the standard delinquent type without actually being a delinquent, which we'll get into later. Everyone is beautiful, well-drawn, and consistent, as well. This perfection also works its way into the sex scenes, which are stunning in their own right. It's gorgeous work and might be worth buying just for the artwork alone. If you are picky about your art, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one.
One of the things I love about this series is the contradictions. Based on the cover art and the title, one would assume Hana is a delinquent and prone to violence. That couldn't be further from the truth, but it lays a really nice foundation for the conflict and tension in the narrative. Based on his looks, everyone assumes Hana is a bad influence on Wataru, especially when his grades start dropping, causing him to be unable to start on the basketball team. In reality, Hana is studious and helps Wataru study to improve his grades. Wataru also ends up being the more violent one, as he gets in a fight defending Hana, contrary to what everyone assumes. The best and worst part of all of this is that Hana dies his hair black and takes out his piercings for Wataru's sake. That is a beautiful sacrifice for the person he loves the most. Though it plays into societal pressures, it's worth it to ensure Wataru's life is easier. Hana is the best.
As I mentioned in the trigger warnings, there are some incestuous moments and inappropriate sibling relationships. There isn't a romantic or sexual relationship shown, but there are moments where Hana's older brothers while trying to educate him on anal and oral sex, touch him sexually, which is super weird and unnecessary. For example, there is a part where one of the brothers plays with Hana's nipples, which I know was to set up the scene where Wataru plays with Hana's nipples, and Hana reacts differently, indicating he feels more with Wataru, but it was still just weird. There are also implications that they helped him clean himself out with dubious consent on Hana's part. I could be the weird one here since I don't have a relationship with my siblings like this, but it made me uncomfortable regardless, and I would have much preferred these segments weren't present. I'm totally cool with the older siblings teaching and guiding Hana along, just not so… hands-on.
Before giving my final thoughts, I must express how much I love the established couple scenario. I don't see this enough. We do get a little insight into their lives prior to them being a couple, but the present-day portions are all with them already together. It's nice that the tension and conflict aren't based on whether or not they will get together but is more focused on how their relationship will evolve and if it's strong enough to withstand external pressures. It works exceptionally well here since these two are set up as childhood friends who meld into one another so easily. They genuinely feel like two pieces of a puzzle that are coming together and fit perfectly. It's very believable, and I was really rooting for them the entire time because of it. They felt very realistic to me.
The story is really strong with this one. This probably would have been a favorite if not for the weird situation with the brothers. Otherwise, this is equal parts smutty and fluffy with two high school boys whose love for each other transcends friendship and your standard romance. Hana is a beautiful soul and deserves all the happiness in the world, and Wataru is worthy of Hana. I love this couple so much and hate that their story ended so soon. I will definitely be seeking out more of this creator's work.
Have you read Rough and Tumble Hana and His Lovey-Dovey Boyfriend? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!