Manga Review | Love at First Bite by Sakana Tojo



This review will contain spoilers for the and anime series Love at First Bite. 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 peer pressure, , internalized homomisia, knowledge gap, near-death experience, forced outing, break ups (not between the main couple), sexism, and ecouteurism, as it appears in the manga.


Makoto just wants someone to love. As a closeted gay man, terrified to put himself out there, that seems like an impossibility. Still, he can't help but continue to want and dream. Makoto finds himself practicing saying ‘I love you' whenever he's alone to prepare himself for the day he meets the one. It's just another night in the park when he decides to practice again. Alone, he says the words out loud, but a small boy appears out of nowhere, silently watching. Embarrassed, Makoto is just about to question the boy, only for him to pass out.

In a panic, he takes the child home and nurses him back to health. But when the child finally wakes up, rather than answering any of Makoto's questions, the child's first words are ‘I love you.' And from there, the child tells Makoto to say the words again. A week passes by, and it's clear the child Makoto ‘saved' is not a human child. Really, he isn't a child at all anymore. He's now a full-grown man named Shiro — instead, he's a full-grown demon. Shiro is a demon who feeds on words, and his favorites are the happy and loving ones from Makoto. The two live together, with Shiro feeding on Makoto's words, often begging him to say his favorites, while Makoto tries his best to keep his distance.

Makoto isn't annoyed or disturbed by Shiro. It's quite the contrary. Makoto finds himself intensely attracted to the demon, and though the demon seems attracted to him in return, he just can't work up the nerve to confess his feelings.


Is there any question at this point that I adore 's work? It's got that light and sketchy quality that I love. It always feels like you're meandering through a dream, which I really enjoy. It just has a unique quality to it that, even when the story might not be the most fleshed-out thing in the world, keeps me reading for more of that fluffy, light feeling. I've yet to find another artist that makes me feel this way just by looking at their art, which is why I insta-buy everything from as soon as it's licensed and released. It's not the most consistent or cleanest style in the world, but it's a style I really enjoy.

Cover art for Love at First Bite by Sakana Tojo

As far as the story, just like with Baby, Sugar, Succubus (though that was specifically Succubi if that title didn't give it away), this is a really unique take on demons. Our demon top in this series feeds on words. He prefers words full of happiness, joy, and pleasure, but he can also consume cruel and sad words for nutrition. A common theme in many of Sakana Tojo's works is names and the power of words (such as My Cat and My Bed and, more recently, Sweet Apartment in Paradise), which is an inherently strong theme. Of course, the most basic and obvious meaning in this case is simple: words are food for Shiro so he can grow. Words have meaning and power, especially so for a demon who feeds on them. However, this theme really shines in the importance of words to our non-demons, specifically Makoto. Words are just as important for Makoto, who longs to say “I love you” to someone and truly mean it. Makoto has lived his whole life worried that he'd never be able to find a partner because he isn't “normal,” yet he never gives up, even going so far as to practice saying “I love you,” which is what conjures Shiro. The power of his want and need for love, and his willingness to one day give that intense love in return, ends up manifesting Shiro.

And it's no wonder that the words Shiro loves to consume the most are his name and “I love you.” Words have meaning and power within themselves, but they have even more power based on who says them, which is seen clearly between Shiro and Makoto. Makoto ends up getting a confession from his best friend (well, as much of a confession as that asshole could manage), and though being with a human would be easier, those words have no power to Makoto because Makoto doesn't see his friend in that light. However, Makoto feels betrayed that his friend tricked him into outing himself. His cruel words had power because his trust in their friendship was broken. Meanwhile, when Shiro admits he loves Makoto, it allows Makoto to reciprocate that love, showing that Shiro's words, because they are coming from Shiro, have power. Plus, the strength of the love behind Makoto's profession of love allows Shiro to finally become human and be with Makoto like a regular couple.

Now, as much as I gush over the art style and the overall theme and meaning of the work, I have to mention that it does have a single instance of something I hate: the bottom being referred to as a girl for being the receptive partner in anal sex. I know this can be a form of humiliation play at work, which is cool and all, but it's also implied with the asshole-best friend that his boyfriends are boy-girlfriends, which is very irritating. This is an unfortunately common theme in smutty titles, where the receiving partner is referred to as a girl or is more feminine because of the role they play in sex. Thankfully, it is only during sex, so it could be passed off as play, and the asshole friend saying it just highlights how much of a sexist and bigoted asshole he is, but it still irks me. This is probably a very minor and nitpicky point for most of you, but I want to talk about these things because I'm sure others out there might be bothered or even hurt by it, so I want to make sure to discuss it so you all can make informed decisions regarding the content you consume. This wasn't enough to deter me, but if it is something that might disturb you for one reason or another, now you know.

However, something I do like about the scene with the “girl” comment is that the best friend is listening in and jerking off to it. This led me to learn a new word, “ecouteurism” (not to be confused with eco-tourism). Think voyeurism but without the visual. And while I, of course, like it because it's a hot scenario, and I am a self-professed degenerate, I like it even more because of its parallels to the main narrative. A demon feeding off words and moans for nutrition (and pleasure) isn't all that different from a man getting off on his crush's moans and words during sex over a phone call. It's a clever sexual reflection of the main story's theme, plus it's hot, so this was a huge win for me.


Overall, this was a win for me. It certainly isn't perfect, and I'm finding that even as much as I adore Sakana Tojo's work, most of their work wouldn't make my favorites list as much as I adore them. They come up with very unique and interesting concepts, their plots are generally slow and fluffy, and they can draw a sex scene that'll make even a degenerate like myself blush. I will continue to purchase all of their work as it becomes available, but I would not say this is the best story in the world. I recommend it, but I am incredibly biased, and this slow, superficial narrative with great themes and even better may not be for you.

Have you read Love at First Bite? 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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