Love Prison: The Sadistic Knight and the Indecent Vow
恋獄奇憚 ～S系騎士と淫蜜の誓い～ (Rengoku Kitan – S-kei Kishi to Inmitsu no Chikai)
Josei – Romance, smut, supernatural
4 Chapters (complete)
The main line of the Takanashi family is rumored to die young, but Yui just wants to enjoy life without being bound by her family’s name. However, the curse of the Takanashi family may soon take Yui’slife as well, but she is saved by a stranger… who then kisses her! But Yui’s anger is replaced by surprise — the young man grows animal ears and a tail!
Warning: this review is of a series that is recommended for ages 18+ and is not safe for work!
First, “sadistic” isn’t the word I’d use to describe Natsu. Natsu is a guardian dog, but he can only use his powers when Yui charges him with kisses and by doing ecchi stuff. So while he immediately starts making out with Yui, at least he’s doing it out of necessity. Plus, he’s really a dog, so a lot of his actions (at least, most of his initial ones) are out of instinct and loyalty rather than a desire to dominate.
The story: Yui is an orphan who attends an elite school. She doesn’t have many friends though, as everyone knows about how the Takanashi family dies young. As she’s walking home one day, a man pulls out a knife and pulls her into the woods, but a hot guy saves her. This guy then kisses her, but before Yui can do anything, he transforms into his wolf-human hybrid form which looks a lot like a combination of Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss and Jin from He’s My Only Vampire. He (whom Yui later names Natsu) explains he’s been sent by a local deity to protect Yui. He can purify the evil energy that is drawn to Yui, but he needs energy from the one he’s contracted with (Yui). And the manga continues from there.
So, it’s rather unusual for these smutty stories to be a supernatural tale. Love Prison is hardly the first to be about needing sexual energy for magic, but it does attract attention from other Manga Reborn titles. Plus, the fantasy elements give way to a second plotline besides getting the main couple to fall in love: breaking Yui’s curse, of course. I’ve only discussed Natsu so far, but other guardian beasts as well as their lords appear in the story. Many of these manga have only a couple of named characters for the series, but Love Prison has quite a handful considering it’s four chapters (albeit longer than average).
That’s one of the biggest downsides of Love Prison. It feels like a full-length shoujo series shortened and sexed up. But perhaps that’s not the best comparison; perhaps it is most similar to an adaptation of an otome game. Natsu’s fellow guardian of the shrine shows up and offers to take Natsu’s place. Then there’s the truth behind the Takanashi curse. This is just a bit too short to be a reverse harem, but if you’ve ever played a romance visual novel, you can definitely recognize some potential flags and decision points. Heck, Natsu uses his powers to infiltrate the school as a doctor — certainly an apt setup to raise or lower Natsu’s affection. Either way, there are a lot of Japanese fiction staples like the supportive best friend, the jealous rival, and, of course, Japanese mythology involving shrines. I think in a longer piece of work, this could have been quite an interesting read, perhaps Black Bird crossed with the aforementioned Kamisama Kiss.
Natsu, not being human, is bewildered by Yui’s seemingly random outbursts and his own new emotions. Again, him not being human makes the titled “sadistic knight” much easier to stomach — and even root for — than other male leads. Yui, on the other hand, I didn’t feel as close to. I didn’t know if she wanted to be just a carefree, rebellious teen or a more sulky, emo one. She says she doesn’t want to be bound to her family, but what did she do not to be bound to her relatives? It’s mentioned she’s been going to marriage meetings, but has Yui been purposely bombing them? Does she show up and not say a word? She didn’t even know what club she wanted to join because she doesn’t have any particular interests. What has she been doing all these years in her free time?
Finally, a word about the art: it’s good. I don’t mean “good” as a polite euphemism for “okay”, but “good” in the truest sense of the word. Love Prison actually looks like a manga serialized in the popular, big shoujo magazines. As you probably have picked up from my description of Yui and the cover, she’s not exactly the most expressive heroine. If she attended a normal school like she wanted to, she’s the type who would look like the beloved class president or something. Since the series is so short, Natsu doesn’t actually fight that much, but his struggle in the final chapter made me wish I could have seen Shichiri challenge herself
Love Prison just seems like it could have been the basis for something bigger, and Yui is a little dull as a main character (but at least not a pushover). However, if you still want much of a shoujo experience while stepping into something more explicit and not have to worry about a cruel lover, then consider Love Prison.
Manga Reborn has also released I’ll Teach You Everything and The Flavour of a Kiss from the Most Dangerous Guy at Work by Shichiri, and she also drew Alice in the Country of Clover: Twin Lovers from Seven Seas.