This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Too Close for Love. 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 pseudo-incest (step-siblings), violence, adoption, and sexual assault, as it appears in the manga.
Shizuka's father has finally found the one in a widower named Jace. Shizuka is very happy for his dad, but the addition of a younger brother in the house has him a bit worried. Thankfully, the younger brother, Motoya, is a pretty chill guy, and living together with them all isn't much of a problem. Yet, Shizuka is still nervous. Why? Motoya is exactly Shizuka's type.
But no matter how attracted Shizuka is to Motoya, he doesn't want to risk his father's happiness by pursuing Motoya. As sure as Shizuka is that he should maintain no more than a familial relationship with Motoya, it seems that Motoya may not have the same apprehension.
This is one of those titles that I don't feel the cover accurately depicts the art within the series itself. Our two main characters look like they are from completely different artists and two completely different series, which is not at all how they come off within the series itself. I believe the coloring methods are the main culprits, as Motoya has this smooth and bright coloring that completely contradicts Shizuka's sketchier coloring. Motoya, in particular, looks like a spotlight is shining on him, and he just generally looks weird. However, in the series, Motoya is actually uber-sexy, and I think he looks even better than Shizuka. You also can't see his goatee on the cover, which is a crying shame since facial hair is so rare in BL. If the cover art dissuades you, just know that the art in the work is actually much better. It's not perfect, but it's very nice all the same.
I really like this premise. This is that pseudo-incest I like, with two adults who happen to meet because their relatives end up together later in life (brings me back to my fave of that tag, My Housemate). Their fathers find love in each other and get together, putting them all together in the same house. Cohabitation is always so fun and leads to all of your usual tropes, like accidentally catching someone coming out of the bathroom naked, which is the catalyst in this particular series and allows for much more intimate moments than what is usually had when there is no cohabitation, such as sleeping in the same bed together, seeing each other off for work, etc. It's like seeing a preview of what their lives as a couple could be, and this series is no exception. It's very sweet and allows them to grow close in a short span of time, which is needed in this concise story.
Something I did feel was pretty weak in this is the cause of tension between Motoya and Shizuka. They're sleeping together in Shizuka's room, touching and kissing, and heading toward the road of romance. Then, Shizuka asks Motoya if Motoya likes him. Rather than respond with an affirmative, he responds by calling Shizuka cute. This comes off so mocking to me (it isn't, but imagining myself in the situation, that's how I would take it), but Shizuka takes it in a way I wouldn't have anticipated. One that I feel is actually weaker than my own reaction. Shizuka draws the line and says he doesn't want to do this stuff with Motoya anymore. Cool, that makes sense to me. We love boundaries, but his reasoning is that his father used to have a partner who would call him cute but broke his dad's heart. That feels so insignificant to me. Clearly, it isn't to Shizuka, and this could totally just be my own ignorance, but I just think there could have been a better reason for him disliking Motoya's response than he associates those words with his father's heartbreak.
On the topic of Shizuka's father, though, I have to say how much I like that Shizuka is adopted. I don't feel like I see adoption very often in manga, and having read Perfect World, it's clearly something that is difficult to successfully get through, so to see a single dad with an adopted son is so awesome (if you want to see more adoption rep in BL, check out Restart After Coming Back Home and the sequel Restart After Growing Hungry, highly recommend for shounen-ai lovers out there). I actually really wanted to see more of their relationship, especially since a lot of Shizuka's ways of navigating his relationship with Motoya seem to call back to growing up and seeing his dad love and work through relationships. I think it would have helped make Shizuka's reasoning for drawing a line with Motoya more concrete and understandable than a throwaway scene of Shizuka seeing his dad cry after a breakup. Regardless, I really like that they had an adopted family like this, and I hope to see more in other series.
As of editing this post, I see a listing from Toykopop for a physical release, which is super cool, and I've already pre-ordered it. I feel like I am manifesting with these reviews, which is everything. This one isn't a favorite, but it's pretty wholesome and sweet. If you want lots of smut, this isn't it (it's actually listed for 16+ where I read it, which is weird since there is full-blown sex at the very end and lightsaber peen throughout, but whatever). But if you're looking for a well-balanced sweet and spicy snack, I think you've found it. It's not a favorite, but it's worth a read, I think.
Have you read Too Close for Love? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!