Love Me Kiss Me and Hug Me
恋してハグしてキスをして…xoxo (Koishite Hagu shite Kisu wo shite … xoxo)
Josei – Romance, smut
1 Chapter (complete)
When janitor Miyoko confronts the student who was spotted ruining the garden, Miyoko learns he’s the heir to a rich and powerful family. But Asahi’s background makes no difference to Miyoko and demands he fixes it. Asahi finds Miyoko interesting, and he offers his literal seal of approval. Miyoko declines, but Asahi won’t let her get away easily!
Warning: this review is of a series that is recommended for ages 18+ and is not safe for work!
Love Me Kiss Me and Hug Me is slightly longer than most of these releases, running about 55 pages. And in those pages is a better manga than many — if not most — of these multi-chaptered josei stories.
The only aspect some people might have an issue with is the age gap. At least, I assume there’s an age gap. The story never reveals how old either of the two leads are. The school is almost certainly a high school, so that puts Asahi about 15 to 17. Miyoko mentions she can’t get jealous of “her peers”, and it is legal in Japan to not go to high school. Asashi asks Miyoko to not treat him like a child, so she surely is older. I’m going to guess around 18 to 19, so this relationship might be technically problematic in many countries. Even if the age gap is minimal, Miyoko’s job might also present a legal challenge. However, since no one can say for sure (and I’m sure as heck am not going to research whether janitors can date students), it would be a stretch to call this an illegal or abusive relationship by manga standards. There’s no force or coercion like in many of these stories.
Otherwise, though, Love Me Kiss Me and Hug Me is a breath of fresh air among Manga Reborn’s catalog. Miyoko is slightly jealous of being forced to work in an unglamorous job at a place where students can literally throw money away, but she knows dwelling on it won’t change anything. She hears that it was Asahi who smushed her flowers, and the students are stunned when she instructs him to fix it. Asahi then offers Miyoko a special badge that gives her privileges, but since it doesn’t do anything useful like get a discount at a grocery store, she hands it back. She gets a bad feeling when he grabs her and says he won’t let her “make a fool of the Iwasaki name”…
… But no worries! He doesn’t threaten her, extort her, or start raping her! Hooray for decency! OK, he does start trying to get Miyoko’s track suit off, but it’s a combination of manga comedy and his pure-hearted feelings for Miyoko that downplay it. (Plus, it’s literally two panels.) In fact, several times the author fakes readers out by making it look like Asahi has an evil plot; in reality, he’s just trying to get Miyoko to like him and take his badge.
I could go on and point out some flaws, like a mystery hunt being mostly skipped and how it’s unclear how long a period the story takes place over, but what can I say? It’s enjoyable. Maybe it’s not the most amazing, groundbreaking story, but you can see how Miyoko is drawn to Asahi. Although he is a rich boy who doesn’t fully understand that money isn’t the answer to everything, at no point is he cold-hearted. He genuinely likes Miyoko, and he genuinely wants Miyoko to like him too. When his attempts don’t work out, he doesn’t get angry but a little sad or essentially goes, “Darn!” and moves on. Most other stories, Miyoko would have been assaulted the moment she almost attacked him with a broom. A slightly less explicit ending, and this would be recommended for almost all teen readers.
Also, while I keep mentioning Asahi, Miyoko also deserves credit for her hard work and determination.
The art is a more realistic, serious style. Think of series like Hot Gimmick, Sand Chronicles, or Black Bird: lots of shaded pages, a heroine that doesn’t get comically angry a lot, and some mature aspects. While many of these types of explicit manga look like a doujin work, Love Me Kiss Me and Hug Me is drawn by a true professional. It’s something that wouldn’t look out-of-place on a (physical or digital) bookshelf. No off-model shots or incomplete backgrounds here. Also, Asahi’s carefree whistling face is adorable. So far, I would put rate this art as the best… and very little uncomfortable images of sexual assault to boot.
Love Me Kiss Me and Hug Me is just about everything you can expect — and ask for — in a one-shot. The story itself is pretty good, but the art just pushes it over the top into being a solid read.
Manga Reborn has published Takahashi’s Just Drown in Me.