Because, Isn’t It Love?! (NSFW) Review

Because, Isn’t It Love?!

Title: Because, Isn’t It Love?!
Author: Ebihara Yuri
Original Publisher: JUNET Co. Ltd.
Publisher: DMG
Localizing Group: JanKenPon
eManga Price: $7.95

Like a multitude of other yaoi collections, Yuri Ebihara’s Because, Isn’t It Love?! requires a substantial investment in suspending disbelief. There’s really one big story that spans several chapters, and then two one-shots tacked on at the end. The long story, whose chapters all start with “Because…,” is about Keisuke, who borrows an incredible sum of money to help his friend pay medical debts. Suganuma, his incredibly handsome lender, offers to help Keisuke keep his owed amount in check by being paid in sex. Keisuke, constantly trying to get out from under the loan, is consistently taken advantage of and put in even more compromising situations… Which Suganuma is always helping him out of.

It’s pretty easy to see why you can’t expect any kind of realism – or even logic – from this story. All the plot twists and developments are pretty ridiculous. Keisuke’s friend that owes him money randomly disappears right after Keisuke has taken the loan for him. Every time Keisuke tries to earn money to pay Suganuma back, the requirement is inevitably some kind of sex. And somehow – somehow­ – in all this chaos, the two realize they have feelings for each other (the title tells me it’s love. I’d be content just knowing that they really wanted to have sex).

The premise of the story goes back to the kind of meaningless, gratuitous, and power-dominated sex that the genre often relies on. In one attempt to raise money to pay off Suganuma, Keisuke ends up volunteering for an S-M video, complete with ball gag and cuffs. In another Suganuma’s brother – of all people – uses Keisuke’s naked body to entice his guests. Suganuma himself is constantly leveraging Keisuke’s debt against him. Because, Isn’t It Love?! actively plays upon the fantasy of yaoi more than anything else – there is no rhyme, reason, or realism about the situations depicted. They become enjoyable because of the fantasy they spin and the results of that spinning.

Even more so than Vector in Love, which I’ve also reviewed, this volume requires you to buy into the premise and accept the gratuitous nature of the story. You have to buy into Keisuke’s utter incompetence and trust, and Suganuma’s hero-antihero duality that he can’t seem to choose between. That’s the only way the volume gains, maintains, and retains the sex factor. And yet Because, Isn’t It Love?! seems to me to have to work harder at it, leaving me with a less satisfying read. Perhaps the storytelling just isn’t quite at the right pace; perhaps the story itself tries to be too serious to also be gratuitous at the same time. Whatever it is, I found that Vector in Love read faster and was enjoyably gratuitous, while Because, Isn’t It Love?! went more slowly and simply reminded me every so often how very gratuitous it was.

The two one-shots at the end are fairly tame, even downright silly, in comparison to the long story. “My Older Man” is about a grade school teacher who has a thing for older men, and ends up falling head over heels for one of his students’ father. This one has a lot of potential to play with, particularly in regards to age, and does so in a humorous rather than serious manner. While the long story is largely told from the perspective of Keisuke, “My Older Man” focuses on the younger, dominant man. “What an Arbitrary Love Battle” is also humorous, as it focuses on two seemingly competing coworkers. These two characters are closer together, both in age and in position, so the story loses the sense of structured tropes upon which the other two lean. However, Yaguchi is arguably still more “together” than Otobe, who is often portrayed with puppy ears perked up curiously, so there is a hint of the standard elements that readers may be expecting.

Overall, Because, Isn’t It Love?! pretty much delivers what it hopes to and what familiar readers might expect. It is not overly skillful or poetic, and does not develop the sex and story side by side. The story is supported by the sex, rather than the other way around, and this is okay. While perhaps not as strong an adherent to the ridiculousness that other yaoi volumes embrace, Ebihara’s collection is still very much in the tradition of the yaoi fantasy, and readers who are comfortable with that will not be disappointed.

Final Score: 3/5

Read Because, Isn’t It Love?! yourself on eManga!

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