There will be spoilers for the novel or novel series Yes, No, or Maybe?. This also has an anime, and while they may not be exactly the same, they more than likely share story elements, and as such, this review could be considered a spoiler for both.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to homophobia/biphobia and rape as it appears in the novel.
Kunieda Kei lives two different lives. Externally, he is the prince of the evening news – hardworking, kind, and humble. He is the ideal man and is adored for it. Internally, though, he is a rude, conniving, and spiteful person. He plays both roles so effectively that even Kunieda isn't sure which is the real him. However, his worlds collide when he runs into Tsuzuki, an animator who specializes in stop motion. During his day job (which takes place in the evening most of the time since he works for the evening news), Kunieda has to interview Tsuzuki.
Tsuzuki is a chill guy and immediately rubs Kunieda the wrong way. Even so, Kunieda can't let it show, so he puts on the charm, and the interview goes well. After work, Kunieda becomes his other inner self. From the clean-cut, dapper Kunieda, he turns into the sweatsuit, mask, and glasses-wearing Kunieda, who eats junk food and curses like a sailor. Unfortunately, during his nightly ritual to go get junk food, Kunieda ends up causing a bicyclist to wreck. As it turns out, the rider is Tsuzuki. Kunieda does his best to escape, but Tsuzuki demands that Kunieda pay him back by helping him with his next animation. In order to avoid Tsuzuki discovering who he is, Kunieda goes by Owari.
As Kunieda spends more time with Tsuzuki as both straight-laced Kunieda and trouble-maker Owari, he grows closer to him. But could Tsuzuki accept both sides of Kunieda? Which even is the real Kunieda?
First off, the main character is an ass. I would be lying if I said I didn't sometimes have those same thoughts, but sometimes it felt just a bit too hyperbolic to be funny. The worst is the cringy terms he sometimes uses, “pleb” being one of them. That was a word I never expected to see, and he, unfortunately, uses it multiple times. It is awkward and is not said ironically, so be prepared for some cringe. However, with all that said. Kunieda did grow on me. He typically said things that I have always wanted to say, and I admittedly am drawn to male tsundere for reasons I can't even explain.
Something else that was rather shocking was that there were explicit sex scenes. On Amazon's listing for this title, it is listed as part of the “LGBTQ+ Romance for Teens & Young Adults eBooks,” and I figured with it being listed for teens, it would be lewd-free (within reason, of course). However, don't be fooled; there are descriptive sex scenes here. They weren't unwelcome by any means, but they were still unexpected in a “teen” novel. While we are talking about the sex scenes, I am not a big fan of reading moaning sounds. I feel they are often overdone and are already not done as well as it is, but this wasn't too bad. I didn't necessarily enjoy them any more than usual, but they were sparingly done, which I appreciated.
The art in a light novel is typically pretty good based on all my experiences in the past. However, some of the artwork in this particular title is a little rough. There's not much artwork here to see, so, unfortunately, some of it isn't that great. A couple of them are of the lewd scenes, just as either a warning or maybe to help encourage you to check this out, depending on your preference. I, personally, would have been just fine without them. I will say the lewd ones are the prettiest, but rather than actual backgrounds, they are of just Kunieda and Tsuzuki with some pretty effects around them. That was a little disappointing.
The writing is pretty decent, the weird cringy words aside, and as a love interest, I really liked Tsuzuki. The big reveal of Tsuzuki realizing Kunieda and Owari are the same person was pretty underwhelming, unfortunately. It doesn't even include Tsuzuki. Kunieda discovers that Tsuzuki knows when flipping through his intonation dictionary where Tsuzuki had scribbled miniature portraits of Kunieda. When the pages are flipped through quickly, he soon morphs into Owari. It's a great idea because Kunieda works in stop-motion animation. There was a point where, during Tsuzuki's interview, he had talked about storyboarding his animations and being like flipbooks by the end. I really liked the idea, but I wish we had seen more of Tsuzuki realizing it. By the time we get to that really sweet moment, it doesn't seem like Tsuzuki knows anything. There is no build-up at all, so Kunieda discovering it just felt random.
However, what I really liked most of all was the evolution of Kunieda and Tsuzuki's relationship. It was really nice reading about how Tsuzuki just let Kunieda into his world and how easily Kunieda fit himself into it by simply showing up from time to time. It's a gradual transition from these two isolated individuals into a pair, which I loved. I also actually enjoyed the lack of fluff. If you are looking for a fluffy romance, this isn't it. There is some fluff sprinkled in, but it is not fluffy by any means. Something I do need to point out is the first sex scene has very questionable consent. In fact, I would say there is none since Kunieda explicitly tells him he doesn't want it. This is a fairly common trope in older BL where no doesn't always mean no (and even in some newer titles with BL, but less so in my experience), but that doesn't make it okay. No means no, just to be clear. So be warned, the consent is questionable in this one.
I feel like the review was primarily negative, but I really didn't mind this one. I really did like Kunieda despite him being a jerk 99% of the time. The concept was pretty fun since I feel like many people live double lives, though not to this extent. I also really liked that Tsuzuki fell in love with both versions of Kunieda – it made my heart flutter a bit. I can't recommend this outright, though, with the questionable consent. Please beware.
Have you read Yes, No, or Maybe?? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!