Maiden Rose 1 by Fusanosuke Inariya: B

Taki Reizen and Claus von Wolfstadt should be enemies since their countries are at war. But a bond forged at school abroad leads Taki, a nobleman, to make Claus his knight, fighting by his side while Taki takes the role of division commander, marshalling his humble subjects as they seek to defend against the enemy’s advances. Many view Claus with suspicion, despite his apparent devotion to the commander, and are more apt to regard him as a “mad dog” and possible spy than as a trustworthy ally.

The two adjectives that best describe Maiden Rose are “promising” and “confusing.” For a boys’ love manga, this story is extremely complex, and features many character types and conflicts not traditionally seen in this genre. The character designs are also terrifically varied, from beautiful Taki to gruff Claus to the myriad middle-aged men who make up the rest of the division.

Confusing, though, is the exact nature of Taki and Claus’ (sexual) relationship. A flashback to their first encounter makes it clear that Taki wanted this, but now it seems like Taki is simply allowing himself to be violated by Claus after each battle. This makes for some disturbing scenes, but what’s good about Maiden Rose is that it doesn’t shirk from the consequences of Claus’ roughness. Too, Taki has enough depth as a character that one can read his passivity here as a desire to be punished for getting innocent people hurt; he’s commanding them because he must and it’s better than remaining ignorant while they die, but it’s definitely taking a toll on him.

So, yes, a very promising boys’ love manga indeed. It’s perhaps not for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely something different.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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