Manga Review | Living With Him by Toworu Miyata

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Warning:

This review will contain spoilers for the and anime series Living With Him. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.

Content Warning: There may be references to parentification, mentions of breakups, overwork, and devastating injury, as it appears in the manga.

Synopsis:

This review includes the bonus story Living With Him: Heating Up.

Ryota Natsukawa, now in , is ready to start his new life of independence. Well, really, he's always been independent. While his mother often worked, Ryota, the oldest child, took on many home responsibilities, including caring for his younger sister. This has inadvertently made him the ideal homemaker, and while he doesn't have a problem taking care of the house and others around him, he's ready to focus on himself. Unfortunately, due to pressure from his mother, Ryota loses his chance to live alone and is forced to move in with his old childhood friend, Kazuhito Tanaka.

Ryota isn't looking forward to caring for someone else again but quickly falls into his homemaker and parental role. As they interact with each other in close quarters, Ryota realizes that Kazuhito is more than capable of taking care of himself and seems to want to take care of Ryota. Maybe this living arrangement isn't so bad? Even though Kazuhito is a great roommate and seemingly perfect in every way, he can't seem to keep a girlfriend. Thankful for how great of a roommate Kazuhito is, Ryota offers to fake date him to identify the issue. As expected, Kazuhito is an excellent partner, and Ryota finds himself falling for him.

They're great roommates. They're great fake boyfriends. But what if they were real boyfriends?

Review:

Before we dive into the art like I would traditionally start, I want to talk about the spice level in this. The main work is 100% . There is a single side story at the very end of the main volume that does have some mutual masturbation, but it is otherwise smut-free. However, the separate bonus story is 75% smut, which is everything. I mention these because if you're someone who doesn't like heavy smut and looks for more fluff, the main story is everything for you. You can read 99% of this story without seeing much of anything sexual. With that said, if you must have smut in your story, unfortunately, you won't get anything in the main story. I don't think the story needed anything sexual, and we'll talk about why in a little while. Plus, it was all the more satisfying when we did get it in the end. The sex in the bonus episodes and volume was a great payoff, and I appreciated it.

Cover art for Living With Him by

A really fun and smart design choice is Ryota's hair color. It signifies his growth from teenhood into adulthood. But it also serves as a great way to differentiate the present from the past. Flashbacks in media can be confusing without some very clear identifier that we are moving from the present to a flashback. However, in this series, it's made perfectly clear in a very subtle way since Ryota has light hair in the present and black hair in the past. It's a perfect visual cue to tell us when a time change occurs. However, the overall art, while very cute, is very inconsistent. It is extremely light and airy, which I love, but it certainly isn't the most stunning piece of art you'll see. It ultimately fits the mood, though, so to hell with consistency. I'd much prefer it to fit the story than to have stunning art and trash story.

While we're talking about the story, I adored the development of Ryota and Kazuhito's relationship. It's very gradual and sweet growth, with very little drama and tension. It's so refreshing to see a couple fall for each other without some inner struggle with their sexual identity, internalized homomisia, or some intense fear of losing the friendship. That doesn't mean they just immediately accept their feelings, of course. Ryota does go through a moment of uncertainty where he questions if he can handle having a popular boyfriend, and he takes his time making sure what he is feeling is indeed love, but that's not predicated on any of those harder and common topics we usually see. It's simply a young man trying to understand if what he feels is love or something else, which I enjoy. Ryota and Kazuhito start fake dating. Kazuhito admits he feels real feelings for Ryota, and then Ryota spends time making sure what he feels is real. It's a very soft and low-tension scenario that I enjoy.

Ultimately, it's a lovely coming-of-age story about a young man, Ryota, who, having taken on a parental role during high school, is ready to live independently. But then he's forced to live with a childhood friend he's lost connection with. Of course, he's frustrated, feeling compelled to care for someone again now that they're living together. But he learns that while he thinks he doesn't want to care for someone else anymore, he finds himself wanting to take care of Kazuhito, not because he has to, but because he simply longs to. He also learns how to be cared for, as Kazuhito dotes on him during their fake relationship. Ryota isn't the parent; he isn't solely the homemaker; he is an equal to Kazuhito both as a partner and a roommate, and that turns out to be what he truly wants. He wants to care for someone, but he also wants to be cared for. It's such a nice step of growth for Ryota as he realizes his ability to care for someone isn't what he needs to grow away from, but something he wants to give to someone he chooses. It's precious.

Results:

This is really cute. I wouldn't say it's phenomenal or groundbreaking, but it does take common tropes like ‘forced ,' ‘,' and ‘,' and, rather than taking them to darker or more painful places, it lets them gradually and organically resolve. Of course, this is fiction, but it has a real, down-to-earth quality that makes it feel more realistic than other titles with similar elements. Plus, we get the sexy bonuses at the end with smut that feels earned and is chockful of well-developed chemistry. I don't think it's a favorite, but it's a solid win.

Have you read Living With Him? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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