A grizzled soldier wakes up in a field full of flowers. He has no memory of his past, not even his name. But before he can puzzle over that too much, a weird creature—a sort of bunny-puppy-alien hybrid—pops over to investigate him. So does the creature’s owner, a cheerful young man who says he’s here to help.

The young man’s name is Makoto, and he explains that the soldier has died and gone to Limbo, a place for souls awaiting rebirth. Limbo is a lovely and peaceful place… except when it’s attacked by huge, voracious monsters called “maws.” That’s why Limbo has its own defense force, a small group of fighters called Reapers who guard the realm and slay the maws. And the soldier, whom Makoto gives the name Calen, has been chosen as the newest Reaper.

Life in Limbo takes some getting used to. As a Reaper, Calen has important ceremonial duties in addition to maw-fighting responsibilities. Then, there’s the day-to-day routine of bartering, cooking, spending time with friends and sharing a house with Makoto, who soon confesses that he has a crush on Calen.

Calen still has only flashes of memory, so he doesn’t know much about what he did in life, but he has a feeling some of it was pretty bad. Even if he likes Makoto, does Calen deserve a shot at love and happiness? And does it matter that kind, bubbly Makoto is not entirely human?

A story where everyone is already dead and the protagonist is a scarred former soldier might have high potential for tragedy, but Love in Limbo is upbeat and cute. Calen is pragmatic enough to quickly accept his new situation, with little angst. Makoto is caring and sweet, and his biggest source of stress is fretting over whether Calen shares his feelings. The other inhabitants of Limbo are mostly friendly, including the cute bunny-puppy-alien creatures that Reapers and their caretakers (like Makoto) keep as helpful pets. The maws that Calen fights appear only rarely, and are always defeated before they can cause significant harm. This allows the story to focus mainly on Calen’s adjustment to Limbo and his new relationship with Makoto.

After Makoto confesses his feelings, Calen takes a while to consider how to respond. Once he decides he’s in, though, things move quickly into a long and explicit sex scene. It’s not just sex for the sake of titillation—the characters talk about what they’re doing, and their relationship continues to develop during the scene. Still, I will note that the book earns the “Explicit Content” label on the cover. This scene includes full-frontal nudity and detailed portrayals of sex.

In addition to sweet and steamy, Love in Limbo is sometimes quite funny. There’s humorous awkwardness between Calen and Makoto, but the best laughs are in Calen’s interactions with Makoto’s father. Grumpy, but good-hearted, Makoto’s dad alternates rapidly between the positions of “don’t you be getting ideas about my son!” and “you know my son likes you, so why aren’t you hooking up yet?”

Because Makoto introducing Calen to this new world is a big part of the plot, we learn a lot about the setting and how it works. Limbo is an interesting blend of original fantasy and various religious traditions. It’s run by beings called angels, but it also incorporates reincarnation, and some of the characters have supernatural abilities. For example, Reapers can summon their maw-fighting weapons, and the bunny-puppy-alien creatures give their owners the ability to teleport.

While the tone of this manga is mostly light and fluffy, there are hints that the stakes will rise in the second volume. Still, the ending of this volume is conclusive enough that it could be read as a stand-alone story. With love, sexytimes, and humor all set in a magical realm, Love in Limbo will appeal to fans of fantasy yaoi romance.

Love in Limbo, Vol. 1
By Haji
ISBN: 9781974706341
SuBLime, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Mature

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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