This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series The Beautiful Greenness. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to homophobia, homophobic slurs, kink-shaming, abortion, BDSM, and assault, as it appears in the manga.
Taro is an author, or at least he is supposed to be, but he has been experiencing writer's block that has been impossible for him to overcome. In the meantime, he has been freelancing and writing articles for a couple of publications to make ends meet. Otherwise, he spends his days lounging about his apartment, depressed and alone. Life doesn't seem like it will change anytime soon until he runs into a greengrocer hawking his wares. Taro doesn't intend to buy anything, but the greengrocer targets Taro and offers him a deal he can't possibly refuse: 100 yen for a carrot and spinach.
Despite Taro not knowing how to cook, he accepts the deal and spends the rest of the day complaining about the persistence of the greengrocer. That night, he discovers his bath is out of order, and the following day, he is forced to go out to a public bath, where he runs into the same greengrocer. The two get into an argument due to Taro's poor attitude and homophobic comments, which prompts Haruki, the greengrocer, to buy back the produce. However, while heading back to Taro's house, Haruki discovers that Taro might be hiding something tender and sad inside him. When they finally arrive, Haruki takes the chance to see if he can peel back Taro's layers to find what secrets he has hidden within.
I would not call this art style particularly beautiful. It is very sketchy in the beginning and during the sex scenes, and I might even call it ugly at times. Even so, I absolutely love it. It is very unique, and there is something about it that really draws me in. Taro, in particular, looks absolutely gorgeous as the story goes on. It's very satisfying to see the artwork evolve as the story does, and as a result, it really compliments the narrative. For example, in the beginning, Taro is very sketchy and honestly ugly, which reflects his internal struggle with self-loathing and internalized homophobia. However, once he grows to accept his feelings for Haruki and the “dirty” side of himself, his character becomes softer and prettier in design. His outer appearance reflects his internal feelings. It's a beautiful transformation.
I also love the development of Haruki's character. He is a self-professed giver in all of his past relationships. He spoils his partners to the point that he hurts himself in the long run. However, with Taro, he finds himself wanting to bully him and even be a bit selfish, which matches Taro's masochistic tendencies perfectly. I find that typically, with dom and sub relationships, the dom is usually domineering and even rude outside of the dom/sub relationship. However, Haruki is sweet, kind, and fluffy outside the bedroom, then oppressive and cruel in the bedroom. It gives Haruki more power than he's ever had in any of his past relationships, which I love for him.
However, I do need to talk about the healthiness of the BDSM dynamics. Based on what we are shown, I wouldn't say they are the healthiest. It doesn't seem to mention a safeword or anything like that, which I can't agree with, especially when some of the play they participate in includes punishment. Now, I am not going to lie and say I didn't enjoy the play just because there was no safeword, but I do want to point it out since some readers find the illustration of the couple coming up with a safeword important. That is lacking in this, so if you find that important, this may not be for you. One manhwa that does have that discussion with super healthy BDSM dynamics is Alien in My Wardrobe, which I highly recommend.
Unfortunately, the method they chose for censoring in this is really, really rough. They censor with harsh white scribbles, which sometimes makes it impossible to understand what is going on. I would have much preferred the lightsaber method or the black/white bars over what was ultimately chosen. They use bars in tandem with the scribbles, making everything harder to read. Don't get me wrong, the sexy time is still a great time, but if the method of censorship is important to you, this is a rough one. However, the sexy time is a small drop in the beauty that is the story. The growth of Taro is really where this story shines. You may come for the BDSM sexy time, but I promise you will stay for Taro's development. This is a beautiful story of love and self-acceptance.
I love this manga. I almost didn't read it because I didn't care for the art on the cover, but it has really solidified itself as one of my favorites. Seeing the growth of Taro from this self-loathing introvert into someone who can communicate and accept themselves, even to the point that they can find love, is just beautiful. Don't let the artwork on the cover and in the first couple of chapters fool you; it is beautiful. I highly recommend this series. There is even another series based on a pair of characters that show up in this that is also a fun time. I will be reviewing that one soon, too, but if nothing else, I really hope you'll give this one a go.
Have you read The Beautiful Greenness? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!