Manga Review: Lover's Flat

"It's not that I want to show off...  But we're not doing anything wrong.  I want to hold my head high when I'm with the person I love." - Natsu

"Lover's Flat" is a one volume manga about two couples who live next door to each other.  It begins with Kouno and his best friend, Natsu.  These two guys had a purely platonic friendship until Kouno decided to act on his secret crush and asked Natsu to sleep with him.  Before he knew it, Kouno realized that the only thing worse than nurturing a secret crush on your best friend was to be in a loveless physical relationship with your best friend.  However, Kouno didn't have to angst long, because it turned out that Natsu had fallen for him as well over the course of their budding relationship.  Just when things begin looking up for them, we meet Kouno's next door neighbors, Naomichi and Kei.  Interestingly enough, these two childhood friends had a very similar situation to Kouno and Natsu going on.  When we are introduced to them, Kei had just confessed his love for his roommate, Naomichi.  Naomichi, after freaking out at the unexpected confession, begins to realize that maybe he feels the same way about Kei as well and seeks out Kouno to talk to about his thoughts.  The manga switches back and forth between the two couples, with scenes of Naomichi and Kouno interspersed throughout where the two new friends swap love advice.

I bought this manga because I had read other reviews saying that it was very cute, and also because I am really becoming a big fan of Hyouta Fujiyama.  Her artwork is very appealing and I really like how she draws her guys.  There are no stereotypical "uke" or "seme" characters here, and I find that very refreshing.  This whole manga was refreshing, actually, with the plot and characters, and it didn't at any point feel like anything I had already read.  I thought the set up, with it going between the two couples, was really very effective, and it was neat to be able to see the characters through another person's eyes as the scene shifted to the other pairing.  Another thing I found really nice was the story of Kei and Naomichi.  I've read lots of stories where two childhood friends realize they have feelings for each other, but never have I seen it done in this way.  Naomichi's reaction was very real and I liked how he actually went and thought about it, realized he did care for Kei, but then came back and told him how he felt but that he wasn't ready to have sex with him yet.  And Kei, upon hearing this, hugged him and thanked him for thinking about the confession.  And that was that.  When they eventually do get to the scene where they are going to sleep together, they are both very awkward, and it is just so cute.  There is an extra chapter included at the end that the author wrote awhile after the other chapters that acts as an epilogue.  You can see how her artwork has improved, and I thought the scene brought the book to a satisfying conclusion.

This manga really impressed me.  I know I've said it before, but I am always hesitant about buying one-shots because I have been disappointed by so many of them, but it's ones like these that keep me as a fan.  This was a great 'slice of life' story, and it offered many things I have not seen yet in other manga.  The characters were all three dimensional and likeable, the artwork was great, the story was solid and told in a unique way, and the pacing was perfect.  This book was definitely worth my money, and I look forward to picking up more of Hyouta Fujiyama's work in the future.

- Liz