Three Wolves Mountain

Loner Kaya Susugi has two things in his life: the cafe he owns, which he runs during the day, and the graveyard that he guards at night, protecting it from human thieves and supernatural threats alike. Until one day he finds two visitors in his graveyard and suddenly his life gets a lot fuller — and a lot more complicated.

Jiro and Tarou are brothers descended from werewolves. Jiro, the younger, looks human, but can heal wounds by licking them; Torou has the form of a wolf, but can speak. They’ve wandered into Kaya’s graveyard after being kicked out of their home by their father and they have nowhere to stay. Though he has doubts about the arrangement, Kaya brings the brothers back to his home. Before long, Jiro and Tarou have become part of his life — and Jiro might just end up being more to Kaya than a housemate or a friend. But there are humans, ghosts, and monsters who don’t want to see them together, and some are more than willing to kill.

The primary storyline here is blunt; tough-guy loner Kaya finds himself first physically, then romantically, entangled with upbeat, emotional Jiro. It’s an unusual relationship to say the least: their first sexual encounter is a result of Jiro going into heat, and subsequent ones often take place during the full moon, when Jiro has wolf ears and a tail. (The full moon also renders Tarou a bit more human, which becomes relevant when his own romantic interest appears toward the end of the story.)

There is a lot of sexual content here. (My copy actually has “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” on the cover.) It’s as explicit as it can be without actually showing clear images of full-frontal nudity. There’s quite a bit of discussion of sexuality. Kaya was sexually abused as a child, and Jiro worries that this could make it hard for Kaya to enjoy being intimate with him. There is also discussion (after some misunderstanding) when Jiro decides that he would like to try switching roles in their sexual relationship — Kaya is embarrassed at the idea, but eventually does give it a try.

The characters’ reactions to Kaya and Jiro’s relationship varies. Jiro seems a little concerned when he first realizes he is attracted to a man; Kaya worries only that Jiro is too young for him. Tarou is startled to walk in on them before he knows anything is going on, but then proceeds not to care — he loves his brother and cares for his friend just the same. Jiro and Tarou’s father is upset, though this is mostly played for laughs, and the werewolves’ mom supports Jiro.

The artwork is pretty manga-standard fare, though the small, cute, chibi-style figures used for characters in the background appear frequently enough to merit a mention. The characters are distinct, easy to tell apart, even in wolf form. Some of the action scenes (both “action” in the sense of fighting and in the sense of bow-chikka-wow-wow) confused me, with small inset panels showing close-ups of actions that make them sometimes hard to contextualize and understand. (Did someone just hit Kaya? What body part is Jiro grabbing there?) In sex scenes, I think this is done on purpose to minimize the appearance of some of the most scandalous bits.

The story plays with character’s names in fun ways. Kaya calls Tarou “Taro,” which at first seems like a mistake, but the book then notes that “Tarou” means wolf, while “Taro” is a common boy’s name. It becomes an affectionate joke of sorts between the two friends.

The book has sweet moments and steamy moments, and the largely-accepting attitudes of characters toward the central relationship is refreshing. (The world needs more stories where a gay couple can skip fighting intolerance and get right to fighting grave-robbing monsters.) There’s some violent content, but nothing too bloody, and everyone is okay in the end. The main limiter as far as audience is the graphic sexual content. But a reader looking for yaoi may not be fazed by that, in which case I’d absolutely hand them this cute wolfy love story.

Three Wolves Mountain
by Bohra Naono
ISBN: 9781421543468
Sublime Manga, 2003
Publisher Age Rating: Mature

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