Hana Ikeru Doutei-kun
Boys’ Love – Romance, smut
1 Volume (complete)
Media Do (MediBang)
Ei, whose hobby is flower arranging, has liked his stepbrother Natsuki for 10 years, often fantasizing about him. But Natsuki is a womanizer, so Ei keeps his feelings to himself. But when Natsuki decides to play a prank on a friend, he pulls Ei into a closet with him, and both young men are surprised when Natsuki kisses Ei!
Warning: this review is of a series that is recommended for ages 18+ and is not safe for work!
Hana Ikeru Doutei-kun has Ei dreaming of pushing his stepbrother, Natsuki, down. Instead, he channels his desire into flower arranging, a hobby he picked up from Natsuki’s mother’s job. While most people think he zones out because he’s so into flower arranging, it’s actually because he’s imagining what he wants to do with Natsuki. But Natsuki likes girls, so it would appear that Ei’s feelings are destined to be unrequited.
That is, until they hide out in a closet together. Natsuki tries to scare his friend Anri, whom Ei knows is interested in Natsuki romantically (or at least sexually). In such a tight space, Ei can’t hide his desire, and Natsuki suddenly kisses Ei. The incident shocks both of them, and Natsuki ends up running away in embarrassment. While the manga doesn’t have named or numbered chapters, after this opening, the protagonist switches from Ei to Natsuki. It’s very unusual for a complete switch in the character whose point-of-view the story is from, but it makes sense in this case. First, it’s Ei secretly desiring to sleep with his stepbrother. After that, it’s a straight guy trying to figure out why he was attracted to his stepbrother. Ei’s big crisis is over since there’s now a chance his fantasies will come to life, but Natsuki’s begins after the kiss.
Of course, there’s a little bit of a question why Natsuki suddenly to decides to tease Ei when he notices he’s aroused. Since the manga explores his struggles, we know Natsuki wasn’t secretly gay for these past 10 years, and even when his best friend kisses him, he’s physically ill. So I doubt he’d be considered pansexual either, but either way, Natsuki realizes he’s only okay with Ei kissing him because it’s Ei. Then there’s some jealousy and misunderstandings as the two of them try to figure out where their relationship goes from here.
… If you guessed the bedroom, yes, eventually. Ei becomes proactive after the closet incident. The opening details how explicit his fantasies with Natsuki are, and so he’s anxious to live them out. It’s pretty explicit but not the smuttiest I’ve read. Since they live together, it’s easier to work in scenes of them fooling around; at the same time, there is more reason for a personal crisis since they have been living as brothers. The manga is about average in length (approximately 150 pages), and fortunately there are no side stories or one-shots to make Ei and Natsuki’s story shorter. I do wish we could have revisited Ei’s thoughts a little more, and I think Anri could have been the main rival without introducing Nachi in the last third or so. Still, there’s not much to dislike overall, as Natsuki isn’t too stubborn about the changes in himself and with his relationship with Ei. Even when he tells Ei to stay away, he approaches him not too long afterward. Natsuki does question if he’s becoming more like a girl (becoming more emotional), but to readers, it’ll probably read like he’s more like a female tsundere love interest.
The art is probably what gives the manga the final push into solidly good territory. The manga isn’t the most polished or advanced, but it is full of natural charm. There’s the visual humor of the normally stoic Ei looking so content making a pretty bouquet when readers know what he’s actually thinking about. Natsuki’s sharp eyes gives him the look like he’s a trickster, but he’s the one who finds himself being played with. (Heh.) I also like how only Ei’s chapter is separate, as the rest of the manga flows together without breaks. There are naturally places in the drama for a chapter ending, but it’s kind of nice not to waste pagetime with filler images. The manga is also laid out so that there’s not a whole lot of shifts between scenes, so I’m not left wondering if it’s been 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days. The cover kind of gives the impression that it’s an aggressive guy chasing after a completely innocent love interest, but of course, Natsuki has experience with women and is the one who made the first move, albeit to his surprise.
Honorifics are used. The translation uses “big brother” when talking about Natsuki’s older age compared to Ei’s, but “onii-chan” and variants when addressing Nachi and Natsuki directly.
Hana Ikeru Doutei-kun is going to be a nice read for fans of this genre.