Castle Mango volume 1 by Narise Konohara and Muku Ogura

Reviewed by Cait
Published in print by Juné

Short Answer: Good

From the website: “Yorozu lives at Castle Mango, a “love hotel” where couples pay for a few hours to themselves. But his quiet life is violated when Togame arrives to shoot an adult film! Soon Yorozu’s being “mistaken” for an actor, having his pants suddenly removed and watching his little brother get hit on. Togame eventually agrees to stay away from Yorozu’s brother, but there’s a catch – and it’s not something Yorozu’s going to like!”

Yorozu Shirosaki is the worst kind of homophobe. He’s the kind of homophobe that doesn’t want to be seen as a homophobe, so instead of expressing concern to his mother that a man he suspects of being a child predator is interested in her other son, he shuts his mouth and devises a ridiculous scheme to protect said brother by whoring himself out. Every moment he spends in his fake relationship with Togame is tinged with internal monologue about how disgusted he is by kissing or hand-holding or the awful potential gesture of being presented with flowers. This is surely building up to his revelation in volume two of developed romantic feelings for Togame, but to be perfectly honest, he doesn’t deserve any kind of happiness after the terrible lies he tells in this volume or for the horribleness of his assumption that because a man is attracted to other men he is automatically attracted to boys. The explanation given to try to forgive this over-protectiveness of his brother rings hollow at best. It’s far more likely that the assumed lie of jealousy over Togame’s interest in Satoru is a lot truer than he wants to believe. His taciturn personality always made his more outgoing little brother favored in the eyes of others, and he doesn’t like seeing it when people who are cold to him are instead warm to Satoru.

Togame is seriously a great guy. Putting aside the curtness in his outward personality, the combination of his forthrightness and his sense of duty is endearing. That he has an as yet not fully explained tragic backstory is telling of his unwillingness to get close to anyone, though his attraction, emotionally and physically, to Yorozu is near-heartbreaking to witness throughout the volume. I was left with the strong desire to see him get his happy ending, to find salvation in the love of another human being, but watching Yorozu basically make a mockery of his earnest feelings was infuriating.

It is, however, a testament to Konohara’s writing and Ogura’s drawing that I can have such strong, almost polarizing, feelings for two fictional people. I’m gripped with both the uncontrollable desire to know what happens next, and the gut-clenching fear that Togame’s heart is about to get ripped out of his chest at the ultimate revelation of all of Yorozu’s lies and the sinking in of betrayal. Konohara does volatile emotions well and when this shit invariably hits its fan in the future, it is going to hit it hard. She does not shy away from the painful, but nor does she shy away from forgiveness. I’ll be looking forward to volume two.

My one big complaint about the localization is that someone didn’t catch the mistake on the cover, where Konohara and Ogura’s names are switched, before this went to initial print. It is correct on the website (though not on the image above).

About cmbranford

Twitter: @cmbranford
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