Fox-Colored Jealousy Review

Akiha Konno has been living a sheltered life – but now, at eighteen, he’s going to stay with distant relatives so he can attend college in Tokyo. But on his way there, he’s groped on a crowded train. Luckily, a young man comes to his aid and rescues him; when they get off at the next station, Akiha is so relieved and grateful, he hugs his saviour – and two soft tufted furry ears appear. Flustered, he apologizes profusely but the young man seems unfazed, just saying cheerfully, “Those are adorable.”

©Machi Suehiro, Yen Press

It’s not Akiha that’s done the hugging, it’s the fox spirit that shares his body – and which has a mind all of its own. It’s a family inheritance; perhaps one of his ancestors annoyed a fox in the past… But when the fox takes over, ears and a bushy tail appear, Akiha’s eyes change – and, worst of all, it makes him behave in unpredictable ways over which he has absolutely no control. It’ll leave me in totally unfamiliar places… get totally wasted… or tear up fields. Which is why he’s fervently hoping that his relatives (who run a temple) will help him get the fox spirit under control. Warmly welcomed, he meets the two sons of the priest: Tamaki and Yukuri Takahashi. And – surprise! Yukuri turns out to be none other than the young man who rescued him on the train. On seeing him, the fox spirit takes over again – to Akiha’s acute embarrassment – and kisses Yukuri. Maybe it’s because all animals love Yukuri, his brother suggests jokingly.

Starting college goes well for Akiha – until the fox takes over once more and he ends up being picked up by a total stranger. Luckily, Yukuri comes to the rescue again and tells Akiha, “You can rely on me if you need any help, okay?” In spite of himself – and the fox spirit – Akiha begins to feel attracted to Yukuri. But there are three of them in this uneven relationship and the bold fox is unabashed when it comes to throwing himself at Yukuri whereas Akiha is unworldly and retiring. But then Hayato, one of Yukuri’s friends, also begins to show an interest in Akiha and won’t easily be dissuaded from pursuing him. Is Hayato attracted to the fox – or to Akiha? Akiha wants to make his own choices but all the time he’s possessed, he feels frustrated and powerless.

Fox-Colored Jealousy is the first of Machi Suehiro’s Boys’ Love manga to be published in print in English and Yen Press have given it a trade paperback edition which suits the mangaka’s clean and accomplished graphic style well. The characters – especially the two versions of Akiha, with and without the mischievous fox spirit – are attractively portrayed and Machi Suehiro know how to tell a story in a clear and engaging way. This manga is cute but on the fluffy side; there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s always nice to have as a fun but undemanding read. Also, it’s a clever take on the ‘possessed by a ghost/animal spirit/yokai’ trope which is different enough here for it not to feel like a re-run of ever-so-many other ‘boy with ears and a tail’ BL stories. The internal conflict and jealousy that Akiha feels toward his foxy other self gives the story just enough drama and interest to hold the attention until the end.

My only gripe? A line (which doesn’t really need to be there) which throws us back into one of the more tedious old tropes of BL. Early on, Yukuri says to Akiha (when he’s rescued him from the groper on the train), “Oh you’re a guy. I thought you were a girl.” I so wish we could get away from this need (is it still encouraged or enforced by the editors?) in some BL manga to tell us that the protagonist (and the uke) looks girly, so all female readers can and will identify with them. The BL reading experience these days is far more complex and diverse and has no need to pander to such tired and well-worn old clichés.

The translation for Yen Press is by Leighann Harvey and reads well (as expected from this experienced translator) with lettering by Dietrich Premier that helps to convey Akiha’s dual-personality manifestations clearly. The volume comes shrink-wrapped with a Parental Advisory Warning about Explicit Content but it really only applies to a few pages of the bonus chapter at the end where everything is consensual. The nice and original touch is that the bonus chapter is told from the fox’s point of view and that helps again to make this manga a little bit different. There’s no direct sequel but the related volume Kind of a Wolf will be released by Yen Press in July 2024.

The cute cover art is a very good advertisement for Fox-Colored Jealousy which is just the kind of light, readable and well-constructed fantasy Boys’ Love to pleasantly while away a couple of hours. Fox boys? What’s not to like?!

Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK. 

8 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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