Setona Mizushiro is the mangaka behind some of my favourite shojo manga series, such as X-Day and After School Nightmare. In addition to shojo, Mizushiro has also drawn a number of Boys Love series, but none of them had been released in English… until now.
Kyoichi Otomo’s marriage is in trouble. He and his wife have nothing in common, the only way he knows how to make her happy is to buy her things and he’s had numerous affairs over the years that they’ve been together. His wife seems to suspect something is up and has hired a private investigator to discover if he’s cheating on her. Luckily for Kyoichi, the P.I. she hires turns out to be Imagase, an old friend of his from college. Imagase is willing to lie to Kyoichi’s wife for him, but he wants something in return: a kiss! Turns out Imagase is gay and has had a crush on Kyoichi for a long time. Kyoichi goes along with Imagase’s demands and, when his marriage falls apart in spite of everything, Imagase uses this opportunity to continue to pursue him. But is Kyoichi ready to accept what it would entail to enter into a serious relationship with another man?
Setona Mizushiro is a master of writing compelling character drama and her skills are on full display in this manga. Kyoichi and Imagase are both deeply flawed characters; Imagase is obsessive and prone to self-destructive behaviours and Kyoichi is indecisive and selfish. I really shouldn’t be rooting for these two to work it out and end up together, but I was completely engrossed by the push and pull of their troubled relationship.
Kyoichi is a protagonist who I think I would have deeply disliked if he had been written by anyone else. He’s always just gone with the flow when it comes to his relationships. He doesn’t want to reject or upset anyone and he desperately wants to be loved, but he’s too disconnected from his own feelings to be able to properly connect with his partners. This leads him to pretty much sleep with any woman who comes on to him and, as a result, most of his relationships don’t last long. The reason I think I never wound up hating him is that Mizushiro never lets her characters off the hook for their poor behaviour. Throughout the manga Kyoichi is continually called out for being wishy-washy and he is forced to face how his actions effect other people. Kyoichi’s waffling can be frustrating, but we come to understand over the course of the book that he is behaving this way because he’s afraid. I never really felt sorry for Kyoichi, as most of his troubles stem from his own poor decisions, but I found myself pulled more and more into the story as I watched Kyoichi struggle and I was glad when he was finally able to accept his feelings by the end.
Imagase is a little harder to understand, in some respects. It’s baffling to me why he, and so many women, seem to find Kyoichi so desirable. He’s an attractive enough man, but other than that he doesn’t seem to have a lot going for him. Even Imagase seems to have a hard time explaining the source of his obsession, saying he fell in love with Kyoichi at first sight. If this manga has a weakness it would be that we’re not given a very convincing reason why Imagase is so set on Kyoichi and willing to give him so many chances. The story is mostly told from Kyoichi’s perspective, so we don’t get much insight into Imagase’s thoughts and even the few flashbacks we see to their college days don’t shed much light on why Imagase would have fallen for Kyoichi so hard. Imagase says that Kyoichi is kind and faithful, in his own way, but we don’t actually see Kyoichi do anything that supports that. Hopefully the source of Imagase’s feelings for Kyoichi will get expanded upon more in the sequel, which is scheduled to be released next year.
I found The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese to be a captivating and very sexy read and I can happily say that it completely lived up to my expectations. If you’re a fan of Setona Mizushiro’s other works or of mature, character focused, Boys Love stories then I definitely recommend that you check out this manga.
Final Score: 9 out of 10.
For more information on this manga visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website: https://sevenseasentertainment.com/books/the-cornered-mouse-dreams-of-cheese/
What did you think of this manga? If you’ve read any of Setona Mizushiro’s other works, what are your favourites? Let me know in the comments.
You can also check out some of my other Boys Love reviews:
- Our Dining Table Review
- Yarichin Bitch Club Vol 1 Review
- Melting Lover Review
- The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms Review
- Love in Limbo Series Review
- Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato Review
- Monster and the Beast Vol 1 Review