Yakuza Lover, a new series by Nozomi Mino, follows the romance between a college girl, Yuri, who gets swept off her feet by the young underboss of the Oya crime syndicate, Toshioma Oya.
In the first volume, Yuri, feisty and beautiful, attends a party in search of a boyfriend. After being hit on by rude guys, she and her friend decide to leave, only to walk in on some illegal drug use—and that is where the trouble starts. Although Yuri is prepared to defend herself (through violence if necessary), they are interrupted by a suave, sexy yakuza named Toshioma Oya, who takes care of the problem, wraps Yuri in his coat, and gives her his business card. Oya is immediately smitten by the headstrong, gorgeous woman and Yuri is undeniably drawn to the handsome, gallant gangster.
Name your romantic trope and Yakuza Lover has it. In spite of that, this shallow-sounding romantic plot works. Oya is not your typical yakuza. He’s slim, stylish and romantic, rather hulking and thuggish. Yuri is brave and capable and smart enough to not immediately fall into bed with him. The romance proceeds apace and the reader isn’t kept waiting for the good stuff. The only refreshing original plot point in Yakuza Lover is that Yuri exercises her sexual agency without being manipulated or forced. Oya, in a dangerous line of work, seeks to live his life to the fullest—he sees what he wants and goes for it, but it’s left up to Yuri to make the last step and cross the line into a sexual relationship with Oya, even though it may put her in danger.
What fun would it be if she played it safe?
It’s not a love story for the ages but the manga is well drawn and enjoyable enough. The characters are gorgeous and volume 1 ends in a cliffhanger that will be enough to keep me interested in the second installment. Only time will tell if the plot is sustainable over the long run.
Yakuza Lover is for mature readers (18+), featuring violence and on-the-page sex (although not full-on nudity). It’s a great, modern romance for fans of titles like Midnight Secretary, An Incurable Case of Love, or Happy Marriage?.
Yakuza Lover is published by Viz Media and a second volume will be released in September.
Yakuza Lover, vol. 1
By Nozomi Mino
Publisher Age Rating: 18+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese