I thought I was ready. But I was naïve. I didn’t understand… what being the partner of a diplomat… and someone who would eventually be ambassador would entail. (Toushirou)
In an alternate omegaverse in which the Nyartigian race (cat people) co-exist alongside humans, Toushirou, a Japanese omega has met his (maybe predestined?) alpha mate, Alex, who’s in the diplomatic service. But their newly found happiness together is interrupted when Alex is dispatched to the UK on a special assignment – and is told to bring his omega mate with him. Toushirou is excited at the prospect of travelling by ship to London in company with his beloved Alex, even when he learns that Gilbert, Alex’s father (the relationship between father and son has become strained) is also behind the invitation.
However, when they arrive in London, Toushirou is no longer allowed to act as Alex’s valet and is not invited out to dinner, when Gilbert takes Alex to meet a young Nyartigian woman of marriageable age. Gilbert tells Alex – in English – that he must break up with Toushirou. Meanwhile, Toushirou, confined to his room, meets Jack, a half-Japanese servant at the town house, who’s been sent to look after him and seems very friendly. Toushirou, glad to be able to speak Japanese with someone his own age, soon relaxes in his company – much to Alex’s surprise and disquiet. Is Gilbert the one to have placed Jack there?
Alex is soon very busy on a secret assignment which means he has little time to check how Toushirou is. But it’s not until Alex’s mother Shelley invites Toushirou to help her preparing traditional sweet treats in the kitchen that he learns the truth about his virtual imprisonment in the embassy. Omegas (and, by association, alphas) are ‘taboo’ in Europe and if he were to be found out, he would have to be confined in a special protective facility.
Feeling more and more isolated, Toushirou only has Jack to turn to for support and friendship. But can Jack be trusted… or does he also have an agenda of his own? And what’s going on with Alex’s secret assignment?
In spite of the hazy background montage on the front cover showing the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben’s clocktower, poor Toushirou doesn’t get to see any of the sights of London in the second volume of Boys’ Love My Mate is a Feline Gentleman. In fact, as the main storyline draws to a close in Chapter 4 (Chapter 5 is flashback to happier days in Japan) the young omega’s situation has never looked worse! Arata Asanae reveals more of the way her version of an omegaverse works in this alternate history context, with inevitable parallels between Nyartig and other non-European nations at the end of the nineteenth century. Toushirou is still viewed as more as a chattel than a human being (except, of course, by Alex) to be used by others (just as he was in Japan before he met Alex). On the whole, I find it’s probably best not to try to decode what’s going on at a deeper level in omegaverse stories or to find parallels with human sexual relationships but just to read and accept each variation on the theme on its own terms. And Arata Asanae’s art is attractive enough to make this an engaging read, even if it would be satisfying, in plot terms, to see Toushirou assert himself a little more, instead of always being the victim. This volume, like the first, earns its M Mature shrink-wrapped rating from some rather sweet consensual scenes in the final chapter (although maybe the discussion of male pregnancy is also a contributing factor).
The Bonus story focuses on Rodney, Alex’s Nyartigian aide in Japan and what happens when he goes to help a man being attacked (or so he believes) in the street – and that man turns out to be Asai, Toushirou’s half-brother and owner of Asai Mercantile, the one who brought Toushirou to Alex’s house as a servant. Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship…?
The translation for Yen Press is again by the ever-reliable Leighann Harvey with lettering by K.T.B. and the edition, with the mangaka’s subtle use of colour on the cover and the colour illustration inside, looks good. There are no translation notes and an extra two-page short story ‘On the Ship from Japan to the UK’ that was originally under the dustjacket is reproduced on the inside of the cover.
Volume 3 of My Mate is a Feline Gentleman: UK Arc Under is due out in April 2024 and after that there’s one more volume to go, so this second volume is very much a transitional episode and halfway-though, setting up conflicts and problems to be resolved.
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.