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Alley of First Love


Alley of First Love

Shusuke has been in love with his childhood best friend Atsushi since middle school. After graduation though, Atsushi left to study abroad for several years and Shusuke's dreams of soccer stardom were sidelined by an injury. Atsushi has returned to their town, though, and Shusuke finds that their friendship—and his deeper feelings—has picked up where they left off. But he's scared, not knowing if Atsushi is really home for good or if he'll leave again and take Shusuke's heart with him. Mamahara’s sweet, almost traditional little romance that isn't perfect, but is a nice, light read.

One of the big strengths of this tale is also its greatest weakness. It is told completely from Shusuke's point of view. This allows readers to really feel what he's feeling and gives the book a realistic pace and emotional impact. The problem is that it doesn't really allow readers to get to know Atsushi. You never really know why Shusuke loves him so much, though you can see that he is intelligent, attractive, and sensitive. It is not that Mamahara needed to write from both perspectives, but she did need to give readers a little more insight into Atsushi. That's not a big grumble, but it is what keeps the book from being truly superior. The other characters are merely background, supporting the main story, which is fine in a simple story like this one. This is a quiet romance, no fantasy elements or over the top drama, just the anguish of unspoken emotions. But Mamahara has a light touch with her comedy, which makes the story humorous, while avoiding being a crazed comedy. Part of the humor comes from Atsushi and Shusuke's interactions with Atsushi's twin five-year-old nieces, who don't always talk like five-year-olds, but who do offer plenty of opportunities for the two handsome boys to pose with appealingly cute little girls.

Mamahara's art leans toward the long and lean body type. Atsushi and Shusuke are all legs and arms, with long torsos and large hands and full lips. Occasionally Atsushi's outfits are a little awkward, making him look too feminine, but other than that they both look like the young men in their early 20s that they are. Backgrounds are kept to a minimum and the panels have an open, airy feeling, fitting the light tone of the story. Alley of First Love is rated OT/16+, so yaoi fans hoping for steamy sex scenes will be disappointed. There is a love scene, but it is “fade to black” scene—literally. The nice thing about that is that there is nothing that would be too much for a 17 or 18 year old budding yaoi fan to read, appropriate since Atsushi and Shunsuke are close to that age.

Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on July 3, 2012

Alley of First Love
by Ellie Mamahara

  • Publication Date: July 15, 2008
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Blu
  • ISBN-10: 1427808880
  • ISBN-13: 9781427808882