In an unnamed, modern, but vaguely Eastern European city, a blood feud simmers below the surface and threatens to engulf a pair of young lovers. If the plot sounds familiar, it could be Romeo & Juliet. Throw in some werewolves and it could be the plot to any of the Underworld films. In this yaoi manga by Ranmaru Zariya, it’s a Romeo & Julian story involving an ancient, noble family and a hidden race of werewolves. The lovers both live dangerous double lives, hiding secrets, and not daring to exchange real names or phone numbers.
The younger man, shy and wary as his namesake, is the titular Coyote. He’s an orphaned member of the endangered werewolf pack, threatened by the mafia-like Galland family. He watches a beautiful, blonde piano player, whom he calls Marlene night after night. Marlene, nicknamed after singer and actress, Marlene Dietrich, calls Coyote “Lili,” after Dietrich’s famous song, Lili Marlene, and pursues the youth with an intense, sometimes teasing passion. The pair play a fraught game of cat and mouse while skirting the violence that threatens the peace of the city and exposure of the werewolves, who, hunted for sport as well as ancient, Eastern medicine, are on the verge of extinction.
Coyote, orphaned as a young boy, seems ready to take his place in protecting his pack. He’s given a task by his leader—take out one of the remaining members of the Galland family. In the meantime, the head of the Galland family decides to move against the pack once and for all. On top of this tense, violent standoff, Coyote inconveniently enters his first “heat.” Confused, frightened, and driven mad with lust, he is relieved when Marlene rushes to his rescue. What follows are some exceptionally well drawn sexual encounters, with plenty of yaoi-related sexual tropes.
Coyote was first published in Japan in 2016 and has been on yaoi fans’ radar for years. Popular to the point of being illegally scanned and posted online, it is a joy to see a proper, legal, English publication by Viz Media’s SuBLime imprint. The English translation is modern and smooth—no awkward idioms or dated language. The artwork is gorgeous. The backgrounds are detailed and stylish. With more realism than a lot of manga styles, the story is played straight (no pun intended), with no comedic or shojou romance special effects. The plot twists carefully, but not unexpectedly. It is an explicit, in-depth romance between star-crossed lovers.
Coyote’s secret mission is exposed at the end of volume one. With volume two slated for publication this summer, only time will tell if Lili and Marlene are ill-fated, as Marlene’s hidden past threatens to collide with his and Coyote’s precarious future.
This manga is rated Mature for explicit sexual content. I personally think it’s one of the best yaoi titles published in 2018, next to Scarlet Beriko’s Jackass, and I would recommend it as an addition for any yaoi manga collection.
Coyote. Vol. 1
By Ranmaru Zariya
Art by Ranmaru Zariya
Publisher Age Rating: 18+