If you’re a fan of the Boys’ Love genre then you may recognise Lyee Kitahala as the mind behind Gelateria Supernova or Gelateria Supernova Royal Vanilla which are both available in the West thanks to Renta!. Today I’m here to check out the new Tokyopop release Bergamot & Sunny Day, which is one of the mangaka’s more recent works. Does it impress? Let’s find out!
The story takes place in America, in a city reminiscent of New York, where we meet protagonist RIku who has just been dumped as he approached the three-month milestone in a relationship. Unfortunately for Riku, this isn’t a one-off; he’s never been able to make it past the three-month mark in any of his relationships and he’s starting to think he never will!
During the day, Riku works at the Sunny Day Café, where the regulars and his co-workers are well aware of his struggles with love. So it’s no surprise to anyone when Riku turns up looking the worse for wear after the most recent breakup. But could true love be closer to Riku than he could have ever imagined? The handsome owner of Sunny Day Café, Josh, has feelings for Riku and as he consoles the younger man over his latest breakup, Josh wonders if this might be the perfect opportunity to finally express how he feels.
One thing leads to another and the two end up sleeping together. However, since Josh never got around to conveying his feelings properly, when Riku wakes up in bed the next morning, he assumes that their night of passion was simply Josh taking pity on him and being willing to sleep with anyone. After all, Riku is lacking in confidence and Josh is older and appears far more put-together in Riku’s eyes. Josh has sent Riku’s clothes to the cleaners and made him breakfast before rushing out the door to work, and it’s difficult for our protagonist not to feel as if this is something the older man has done many times before. Surely, this means that no matter how wonderful it was for Riku, it won’t lead to anything lasting.
As the book goes on, Riku and Josh enter into a ‘no strings attached’ fling of sorts. To all intents and purposes, they’re basically dating, but with Riku’s lack of confidence and Josh worrying that he’ll lose him should he push too far, the misunderstandings between them continue to pile up. Riku is happy to enjoy the ride for now, but it’s not long before he finds himself growing more and more attached to Josh and he worries about what will happen when this relationship comes to a premature end as all his others have.
Bergamot & Sunny Day packs its whole storyline into this one volume and sometimes for other manga like this, that’s a struggle, but for mangaka Lyee Kitahala this has proved successful. There’s not a lot happening outside of the central relationship; Riku goes to work and occasionally talks to his roommate, but otherwise, the manga only has the romance to move along. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time getting to know the roommate since he was an interesting character, but at the time I appreciate there’s not a lot of time to do everything.
I also appreciate that the relationship between Riku and Josh was handled well. There’s an age and social gap between them, but that never feels like a problem. Nor does the fact they’re a boss and employee. Josh isn’t always at the café day-to-day and Riku has been working there long enough that them becoming an item doesn’t feel uncomfortable the way it can in other workplace romances. This is honestly a very sweet story that’s easy to get invested in, thanks to the delicate approach Kitahala has taken with it.
The artwork is nice too, the character designs are attractive and I will say that Josh looks better in the series itself as opposed to the cover where I don’t think the angle is doing him any favours! In terms of the world the two inhabit, it’s easy to imagine the two walking the streets of New York or a similar American city together. The atmosphere and appearance of the location and the café are just right; it’s cosy which helps you get immersed in the storyline.
As mentioned earlier, Bergamot & Sunny Day comes to the West thanks to Tokyopop under their LoveLove imprint. The release is translated by Katie Kimura with lettering credited to Vibrraant Publishing Studio. The release reads well with no issues to note, it also includes two colour pages at the beginning. The digital version is available now with a physical edition scheduled for a release in November.
Overall, Bergamot & Sunny Day is a sweet romance story that offers an engaging read, especially if you’re looking for a workplace love story with more adult characters. Mangaka Lyee Kitahala does well to wrap up the storyline within this single book and I appreciate how well the atmosphere of a busy café in America has been captured.
Our review copy for this title was provided by the publisher Tokyopop.
This book contains sexual content and is intended for an audience aged 18 years and up (from the publisher’s website).