That man will take away both your heart and your body, together with the jewels...
Kaitou Crow is a beautiful, unidentifiable young man who's only after jewels. Ruri, the daughter of a jewel designer, accidentally saw the kaitou while he was going for a preliminary inspection. While snatching away Ruri's first kiss to seal her mouth, Crow announced that this time, he would steal both her heart and her body, together with the jewel...?
The dangerous love mystery of a conceited, forceful, beautiful, young and perverted kaitou!
(Source: Shoujo Manga Maniac Scanlations)
Included one-shots: Kuchizuke wa Amai Bara wa Kizuato, Kiss yori Yasashii Mystery (An Easy Mystery Better Than a Kiss)
To call the art exquisite is a huge understatement, because personally I feel this is one of Asami's best work, including the expressions, the chibi forms, the backgrounds, the focal jewelery in question and the painstaking attention to detail with costumes and furniture. Inevitably, you will lust after the rougish and mysterious Kaitou while the tenacious and somewhat gullible Ruri is depicted as a strong heroine, not simply a dummy entranced by the crook!
So Kaitou Crow is a practised and notorious jewel thief who has set his eyes on a particular piece "The Doll's Eye" which Ruri's dad has made specially for her. On a
reconnaisance trip, Kaitous is accidentally spotten by Ruri but to avoid a commotion he silences her with a kiss. She is quick to rebuke him (Atta girl!) but understandably impressed that a young boy should possess such mastery and cheekiness! Further the story explores how they meet yet again and again and he manages to steal every jewel he puts his mind to despite Ruri's presence there and her feeble attempts to foil his plans. While she becomes infatuated with him, he claims he cannot belong to one woman and she decided to tame him! Will she be able to? Or will she only be left jewelery-less at the end of each exchange?
So much about this story is invigorating that it's hard to point out specifics. Ruri proves to be very empowered in her strong will to be around Kaitou as well as her resolve to make him all her own! Not one aspect of her is insecure or annoying. Kaitou's character is also played out in interesting scenes where his player personality emerges when he beds a grieving widow, but also how he feels especially tender towards Ruri when he oh so gently strokes her cheek! Eee, *hands on cheeks* Otaku overload! Over the three sequels, we also see a fair bit of development on both sides, how the uberly self assured casanova struggles with growing affections and the headstrong ingenue puts her foot down, refusing to compromise any longer, so it's not a shallow storyline.
The dialogue was humourous at many places accompanied by cute SD chibis, and intimate when the scenes demanded it. There is one hilarious panel at the end of each chapter. An absence of unnecessary smut or uncouth groping makes for an elegant and enjoyable romance, and a gripping cliffhanger leaves you greedy for the next volume! A well deserved 9/10!
Two unrelated one shots are also included.
Kuchizuke wa Amai Bara wa Kizuato:
Miori's a bit on edge coz she's got a flu and her period at the same time, and in the market, she's bludgeoned by this tattoist Rei's shopping bag and gets wet. Out of the goodness of his heart, he takes her to his studio to dry up, but is fascinated by her pristine white back which he feels is an excellent canvas. However Miori can't believe he would corner her half naked like that! In a later exchange, she is enthralled by the tattoing process and changes her mind about him and a tattoo but he still sees as a minor and refuses to change his policy about doing a young girl (both tattoo and make love!).
Artwise of course, Rei always looks the epitome of smoothness and adroit capability, while Miori looks the part as a flustered school girl taking the edgy tattoo parlour in for the first time. While some of the dialogue and scenes try too hard to emphasise the difference in maturity and level of sexual experience, at other times, it's too trite to swallow!
Funny moments include how he almost never calls her by name, which annoys her no end as well as her exagerrated reactions to his nearness. The intimacy is subtle while the romance between them is a bit underdeveloped and seems awkward, even unnecessary.
Some may enjoy this semi-coming-of-age story more than others. Personally, I think the plot is a tad childish albeit racy. 7/10 (Coz the bishie is too damn hot!)
An Easy Mystery Better than a Kiss:
This isn't your average girl meets cute boy, conflict, interaction, kiss, misunderstanding, make up. This short story has an interesting murder mystery plot entwined along with issues of friendship brought out. Chinatsu is a high schooler who likes to think she has good detective skills, but when she's faced with the apparent suicide of a close friend and tries to figure out what exactly transpired to cause that event, she realises real life doesn't always provide organised clues or safe confines to run to in times of danger. Along this journey, she learns that her friend led a completely different life than the one she portrayed at school and was clearly suffering beneath her cheerful exterior. At this point, Chinatsu questions her growing closeness with Manabe who has been suspiciously helpful to her all along.
I enjoyed the novel and its intriguing plotline and sympathised with the characters' fears, a rare feat for a one shot. Dialogues are succint and add to the story, whose length doesn't feel too short. No unnecessary drama ensues. Some twists you'll expect, others keep you at the edge of your seat. Artwise another masterpiece, while the humour factor is replaced with the underlying anxiety every character faces. 9/10