Noodle Shop Affair Vol 1 by CJ Michalski Manga Review

 

Title: Noodle Shop Affair Vol 1

Author: CJ Michalski

Publisher: Deux

ISBN: 9781934496565

May Contain Spoilers

Ukyo is the self-indulgent heir to the most powerful yakuza family in Kanto.  Two years earlier, he fell in love with Kakeru, the son of a noodle shop owner.  On the run for his life, Ukyo can finally return home, and his first stop is Kakeru’s noodle shop so he can confess his love to him.  When Ukyo arrives, he’s in for a rude awakening – Kakeru hates all yakuza, and refuses to have anything to do with any of them!

This was a surprisingly cute read, which is almost too bad, because with the financial woes that have shaken its publisher, Deux, I’m not so certain that the remaining two volumes will be released.  It makes it hard to get worked up over a series that you may never be able to finish reading.

When Ukyo was hiding from rival yakuza, he ducked into Kakeru’s noodle shop.  The rival gang members weren’t too bright, and they didn’t check the open shops for their quarry.  In addition to not having his life snuffed out by a group of brutal thugs, Ukyo falls in love for the first time in his life.  The bubbly, friendly Kakeru captures him hook, line, and sinker, but the gang member is on the run and can’t linger to declare his feelings.  After spending two years aboard, he’s finally allowed to come back home.  He runs to Kakeru’s shop, delusions dancing in his head that the boy will remember him and leap with joy at his arrival.  Sorry, Ukyo, things like that only happen in manga, but alas, they only happen in manga that you are not in.

Ukyo discovers a group of thugs in the shop attempting to shake down Kakeru.  Not only that, but they are trying to have their vile, wicked way with his slim, desirable body!  Ukyo doesn’t take kindly to that, because he thinks he’s the only one entitled to that delectable body, so he swiftly throws the other gangsters out.  Then his dreams unravel, because Kakeru kicks him out, too.  Not only does Kakeru hate the Osakaki Family for lending his father money and then giving him a brutal beating that has left him in a coma, he hates all yakuza, even those who save him from being ravished by large hairy men.  Crushed, Ukyo leaves.

Instead of giving up, he comes up with a great idea.  What if he pretends to be down and out on his luck and he begs Kakeru to let him work at the shop for room and board?  What a great, novel idea that has never been used in manga before!   Not to worry, the situation lends itself to some wacky hijinx, as Ukyo tries to woo the innocent Kakeru while also secretly saving him from the big, bad mob members who repeatedly show up at his door.  To make matters even more complicated for Ukyo, he has to keep it all a secret from his dad, because it’s just not proper for the heir of the biggest yakuza gang in Kanto to be working in a noodle shop.

Noodle Shop Affair is silly and charming, with an impossibly ridiculous plot device.  Leading a double life and keeping a secret identity are nothing new, but they were humorously pulled off in this book.  Ukyo is tough and unyielding until Kakeru is in view.  Then he is mushy and love-struck, comparing his beloved’s lips to marshmallows and shooting geysers of blood from his nostrils at the thought of a naked Kakeru.  Even the vision of Kakeru’s bath stool has Ukyo trembling like a bowl full of jell-o at the thought of his naked young body sitting on its surface.

In terms of explicit content, this volume of the series is pretty tame.  There isn’t much going on in the sexual gymnastics department, and the focus instead was on helping Kakeru out of his plight with the yakuza gang.  Presumably the skin on skin action picks up in the next installment, which has a depressing TBA status on the Deux website.  Though the story is obviously incomplete, I enjoyed the first volume anyway.  Now, all I can do is hope that the next two volumes see print, so the unlikely couple can find true happiness at last.

Grade:  B+

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