Please be advised this review contains spoilers for Our Not-So Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 by Mone Sorai, published by TOKYOPOP.
As always, you guys already know I have an “Add to Cart” problem when it comes to Boy’s Love manga. If I see it, I don’t think twice and I purchase it. Our Not-So Lonely Planet Travel Guide was definitely this for me and I’m so glad it was. I love going in and having no clue what to expect.
Our Not-So Lonely Planet Travel Guide by Mone Sorai, published by TOKYOPOP, is a breath of fresh air in the Boy’s Love genre. It is almost entirely devoid of your typical yaoi tropes and focuses on the deeper side of gay relationships while highlighting different cultures from the perspective of two Japanese men.
Setting The Tone
Our story starts off in a Japanese airport where Asahi Suzumura is impatiently waiting for his boyfriend, Mitsuki Sayama, who is late. It is very apparent from the first few pages what their dynamic is. Asahi is very serious and nervous, while Mitsuki is the playful one. Right before they board, you can see Asahi scold Mitsuki for wanting to hold his hand. Mitsuki immediatly retorts, “If you’re going to act like that, should I really go with you?”
Upon landing in Thailand, their first stop, Mitsuki tells Asahi he loves him and makes him promise to marry him. This sets the tone for what their entire journey will be like.
One thing about this story that I really enjoyed is how the story is told. The mangaka weaves past flashbacks with the current timeline to paint the picture of that Asahi and Mitsuki’s relationship is. As we can see from the flashbacks, Asahi had some type of medical issue which resulted in him quitting his job for sometime. When Mitsuki asked Asahi to marry him, Asahi says he will do so if they travel the world together.
It’s very clear that Mitsuki loves Asahi very much and that Asahi still is not comfotable with himself and his sexuality. This is heavily explored during their stop in Thailand. When they arrive, they meet a Japanese expat by the name of Layla. Layla, who is a trans woman, advises the couple to be proud of who they are and that they are in love after Asahi scolds Mitsuki for easily admitting they are together.
Layla also brings around her friend May, who is a masculine presenting woman. Through their time together, May and Layla school Asahi and Mitsuki on how more accepting Thailand is regarding LBGTQ+ matters. May also advices Asahi to be proud of who he is and to treasure his feelings for Mitsuki.
As Mitsuki and Asahi travel through India, the trip is less eventful than their Thailand stop and before they know it, they are in Georgia. Here the pair cross paths with Mitsuki’s high school ex-girlfriend, Kayo-chan, who is also traveling with her friend. The four decide to get dinner together.
During dinner, as Mitsuki and Asahi are re-telling their friendship, Asahi cuts Mitsuku off as he is about the tell the girls they are dating, and instead says that they are really good friends. Mitsuki is upset but plays along for Asahi’s sake. Through the dinner, we can see Asahi’s growing discomfort as Kayo remininces over the relationship her and Mitsuki shared.
As they are leaving the dinner, Asahi is being carried out by Mitsku. Kayo, who still obviously has feelings for Mitsuki, tries to set up plans to meet back when they are in Japan. Mitsuki declines, stating he won’t be in Japan for a while since him and Asahi are still traveling.
Now during the dinner and this end scene, the flashbacks give away the fact that while they were all in high school, Mitsuki clearly had an interest or feelings for Asahi. We are shown a scene where while being with Kayo, Mitsuki is staring out a window, looking at Asahi.
Once back in their hotel, Asahi who got really drunk at dinner, opens up to Mitsuki. He realized how hurt he felt when Mitsuki agreed they were only friends and then in turn, realized how much he is hurting Mitsuki by downplaying their relationship to others. He starts saying that if he was a girl, he would be proud to display their relationship.
Mitsuki cuts off Asahi and tells him that even though straight coules have it easier, there’s no one else he wants to be with other than Asahi. (queue the tears)
Feeling the Feels
Our Not-So Lonely Planet Travel Guide is a story that packs the emotional punches behind the fun and light-hearted moments. While Boy’s Love is a popular genre in Japan, same sex relationships are still not commonly accepted there and other places in the world. As much as us fujoshi love our fictional gay relationships, this story really highlights the deeper tolls homophobia has on same sex relationships.
While Asahi clearly loves Mitsuki, he still struggles accepting himself and his love. As a result, he tends to lash out unfairly at Mitsuki whenever Mitsuki is being affectionate or open about their relationship. A lot of Asahi’s love isn’t expressed through dialog, but more so how he is drawn looking at Mitsuki and his inner dialog.
At first, it’s very easy to get annoyed with Asahi and how he treats Mitsuki, but as the story goes on, it’s hard not to empatize with him. He loves Mitsuki so much it scares him and he feels like he doesn’t deserve him.
Mitsuki is an amazing partner, who understands Asahi’s fears and has decided to continue loving him regardless. He knows that Asahi does love him but just can’t be at the level of openess Mitsuki is at. While Mitsuki wants to shout his love for Asahi through the rooftops, he understands why Asahi won’t let him.
This story truly caught me by surprise with how deep it truly is, especially regarding LGBTQ+ issues and acceptance. I love how it ties in these perspectives through travel and exploring new places. Mitsuki and Asahi may bicker at times, but their relationship only grows deeper on this trip. I’m excited to see their relationship progress in volume 2.