Lock Me Up and Throw Away The Key! Reviewing Irodori Aqua’s “Arrested Love Vol. 1”!

The cover of Seiju Natsumegu's doujinshi, Arrested Love Part 1.

Publisher: Irodori (Irodori Aqua)

JP/Original Title:
ヤクザと目つきの悪い女刑事の話

Original Story and Art by: Seiju Natsumegu (@Seiju_natsumegu)

Translator: Ed Ayes
Letterer: Tim Sun
Formatting: CC Su
QA: On Takahashi and Zhuchka

Page Length: 23
Color or B/W: Full-color Prequel, B/W for the Main Content

TWs/CWs: None


Reader’s Note: I received a review copy of Arrested Love Vol. 1 from Irodori Aqua in exchange for an honest review of the material. I was not compensated for my review, nor will I be post-review. Additionally, any images seen in the review are taken from the official release. Opinions are my own.


One Sentence Summary
A cop and a Yakuza underboss play a romantic game of cat-and-mouse as they go about their jobs in the streets, but don’t worry: it’s just how they flirt… even if they don’t know they’re flirting.

Expanded Summary (Take from the Back Cover)
They’re just madly in love with each other!! Todoroki, an underboss of the underground syndicate “Tsuchigumo”, and Arigaya, a detective of the 4th police division, are constantly at each other’s throats. During a raid, Arigaya gets the chance to throw Todoroki behind bars, but the truth is she actually…

I think I feel comfortable saying that Irodori Comics is currently at the forefront of Japanese to English doujinshi translation and localization these days, though they’re not alone. They stand with the likes of Lilyka, Digital Manga Publishing’s Yuri imprint, soon-to-be Macaron Press, another Yuri imprint, and so many more publishers doing excellent work online with doujinshi. We’re really living in a golden age of accessibility: I’m constantly in awe of how much translated doujinshi I can access these days!

So, it’s safe to say that I was quite happy when I got the chance to review Arrested Love Vol. 1, a doujinshi from Irodori Aqua, Irodori’s all-ages imprint. In fact, I wasn’t even expecting to review this title: it got sent to me by accident, but hey, I decided to review it anyways!

I’d actually been eyeing picking up Arrested Love, but hadn’t gotten around to buying myself a copy. Now that I’ve read volume 1… I really regret not getting my hands on it sooner! Why might that be the case? Well, read on and find out!

In General (and The Plot)
Arrested Love focuses on two characters: Arigaya, an investigator/cop, and Todoroki, a Yakuza underboss who are, as the title says, in love… except they don’t know that it’s mutual. A lot of the comedy comes from misunderstandings and foibles that come from a cop and a Yakuza underboss falling in love and encountering each other while on the job.

Seiju Natsumegu does a really good job combining clean, slick looking art with an enjoyable plot that has a lot of room to grow in the following volumes. While art isn’t always important, honestly… Natsumegu-sensei’s art really does help the story a lot: after all, a good deal of the impact of the comedy comes from how Arigaya and Todoroki react. 

Another big part of why everything works for me is thanks to Ed Ayes’ translation. It’s snappy and keeps pace with the comedic parts of the plot. Todoroki easily could have come off as a bit corny: instead, he feels like a dynamic character while also playing up the Yakuza aspect too. I really love how he was translated, and feel that the voice Ed chose to go with suits Todoroki quite well.

In the same measure, Arigaya comes off as serious, but not cold: she’s dedicated to her job, but she’s not been translated to sound so serious. If anything, she feels quite human in how she’s been translated. Ed Ayes treads a fine line between playing up aspects of the characters -i.e. Todoroki’s way of speaking and Arigaya’s tone and manner- and being true to the source material. Instead, Ed Ayes’ finds the sweet spot of a readable, enjoyable translation that feels well done and properly edited.

I’ve also got to praise Tim Sun, the letterer for this volume. Everything is sized really well, and is nicely centered in the textboxes. Additionally, the sfx are well designed, matching the scenario without fail. I’m a sucker for really good lettering: I hope that Tim stays on for the full run of this series. In fact, I might be a Tim fan: I hope I get to enjoy more of his clean lettering. (It’s so easy on the eyes!)

Speaking of good things… let’s talk about the art!

The Art
Natsumegu’s art is quite the treat: everyone looks well designed, characters are very distinct from each other, and there’s no “same face” syndrome to be found here. Of note is Natsumegu-sensei’s line work: the lines are very neat and crisp, making the facial expressions very sharp. The characters all feel solid and don’t float off the page of feel mismatched with the background, which is something that I appreciate. Sometimes, backgrounds can feel like an afterthought: however, it’s clear tha Natsumegu-sensei really thought everything through, and made it all work together.

Overall: I’m a big fan.

One thing I noticed is that occasionally, Natsumegu-sensei will employ stick figures to fill in characters. Honestly, I found that really charming and quite humorous: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doujinshi with stick figure filler characters, at least not one that I can clearly remember. It adds a certain level of comedy to an already comedic series.

Additionally, I’d like to give props to Arigaya’s design: she feels like a realistic woman, with a normal sized bust and little sexualization. When she blushes or emotes, she’s quite cute: when she’s serious, she looks super cool and focused. I’d love to see a mini-book of just Arigaya, if I’m being honest: she’s my favorite of the twosome the story focuses on.

The Characters
Speaking of our twosome, let’s talk about the characters more in-depth. While there’s definitely other characters present, volume 1 really focuses on Arigaya and Todoroki, two characters who play off of each other in a really hilarious way.

Arigaya comes off as your stereotypical cop: she’s focused, she leads with no hesitation, and she’s not afraid to get in the mix. But that’s not: she’s actually quite easily flustered, and honestly, very, very cute beneath that “cool cop” facade. 

That switch, when done right, can be really, really enjoyable: I’m glad to tell you that Natsumegu-sensei does things write, as does the translation. Arigaya is a treat to read, and made me laugh every time her personality switched and she revealed her real thoughts and emotions.

Todoroki is very similar: he comes off as your stereotypical mid-level Yakuza boss. He’s got a flashy suit, slicked back hair, sunglasses that he wears no matter where he is, and a swagger. Yet he -much like Arigaya- isn’t showing his hand, and when Tetsu expresses just how he feels about Arigaya, it’s very enjoyable, in all the ways that a well-crafted rom-com often are. 

Fans of Way of the Househusband might compare him to Tatsu, though I caution readers to try to separate these two series. While yes, they both include a Yakuza character in their stories -and while yes, I recommended Househusband at the beginning- I personally felt Arrested Love is very different, in a good way. Both are enjoyable titles for distinct reasons.

Speaking of those reasons… let’s go through volume 1 in detail, which means spoilers. You can skip to the TL;DR if you want to go into this titled un-spoiled, or you can read on and get the 411 on Arrested Love.

Here There Be Spoilers!

Arrested Love is divided into four cases/chapters, with a prequel that’s exclusive to the volume 1 release. The full-color prequel – “Arrested Love in High School 1”- follows a teenage Arigaya and her first encounter with Todoroki on Halloween. While walking home from school, she’s stopped by Todoroki who’s complaining to his underling about needing to get rid of all the sweets they’ve got for the holiday. 

Cue Todoroki stopping Arigaya and handing her a bag full of Pocky and various snacks, complete with a menacing grimace.

A sample of the full-color prequel chapter. It shows a teenage Arigaya encountering Todoroki during Halloween.

Naturally, teenage Arigaya is suitably shocked and ends up rushing past him without taking the snacks, reflecting on her somewhat harrowing encounter. The story ends, leaving you wanting a bit more background on if they ever met again when Arigaya was still in school. I guess we’ll have to see in the next volume.

On to Case #1, which is aptly titled “Arrested Love”. This takes us to modern day: Arigaya is an investigator working for the 4th Division of the Bureau of Investigation. She’s no longer a teen, though she’s clearly been swept away by Todoroki, who seemingly doesn’t know that she’s the same teen he encountered that fateful Halloween. Still, that does little to hamper the comedic beats of their almost-romance, especially when Todoroki suddenly confesses his love to Arigaya when she finally corners him for an arrest.

A sample page of Arrested Love. The scene is focused on Todoroki declaring Arigaya as "his woman" and her reaction to this words.

Naturally -because this is a cat-and-mouse style rom-com- Todoroki takes advantage of Arigaya’s shock and escapes, leaving them to meet in the streets yet another day.

This is an on-going theme throughout Volume 1: Arigaya and Todoroki meet in some sort of situation, and they keep confusing their reactions to each other’s flirtation for the wrong emotion, or -on Arigaya’s side- simply a joke or way to throw her off balance. These moments actually feel quite genuine: you really do want them to get the point and just kiss already!

Arigaya in a sleeveless dress. The scene focuses on Todoroki's reaction to how fine she looks.

In one final twist, Volume 1 ends on a cliffhanger: Arigaya, disguised as a stylish young lady out for a night at a high-class club, is drugged by her target, and is quickly whisked away from Todoroki’s watchful eyes. The worst part is is that just five minutes before, our twosome were almost one step closer to seeing their mutual affection! My poor heart can’t take the suspense!

While Arigaya thinks Todoroki’s joking, he’s 100% serious: but on his side, he thinks she’s pretending to flirt in return, continueing the trend of them being so, so oblivious. It’s all a part of their dynamic, and it’s a suitable finish for these two oblivious lovebirds, and a good hook for the next part. I know I’m certainly invested in seeing Arigaya take down a bad guy while trying to get her flirt on with Todoroki!

Truly, the love between an investigator and a Yakuza is tough. In fact… that might even be a direct quote from the doujinshi!

For me, all of this amounts to why comparing Arrested Love to Way of the Househusband does a bit of a disservice to both series. Househusband is straight comedy: while we encounter Tatsu’s wife, the story really revolves around an ex-Yakuza member trying to be the best househusband he can while also coming off as otherwise. The comedic beats come from Tatsu’s seemingly suspicious behavior, and his foibles. The jokes don’t come from romance, not in the way they do in here.

Conversely, Arrested Love plays up a lot of rom-com tropes: the laughs come from Arigaya and Todoroki’s obliviousness, from their clear infatuation, and from their combined anitcs. Househusband doesn’t center romance as part of the plot but Arrested Love does. We don’t laugh at Todoroki because he’s a Yakuza: we’re laughing because he’s so hopelessly and obviously in love with Arigaya. We laugh at her for the same reasons: she looks like your typical cool cop, but actually, is utterly besotted.

But honesty?

Both titles are really good, and honestly, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to try out Arrested Love simply for the cop/yakuza ship.

Continue?
This is thankfully an easy choice: it’s a continue for me! In fact, I’m really, really excited for Volume/Part 2. I want to see Arigaya and Todoroki develop past their foundational tropes, and I really want to see them enter a proper relationship. 

I hope that the story grows the beard in Volume/Part 2. I’d like to see Arigaya get fleshed out more, and I’d really enjoy seeing another prequel encounter with Todoroki. I’m rooting for them to get together, but I’m also very hear for all the jokes sure to come out way.

TL;DR: Arrested Love is a cute, all-ages that is just as enjoyable as Way of the Househusband, and really, really good. If you’re a fan of the Yakuza video game series, want a good chaser after reading Way of the Househusband, need a quick read, or just want a light rom-com to fill out your digital shelves, I highly suggest picking up Arrested Love today!

Where To Buy
You can buy a copy of Arrested Love Volume 1 from Irodori Aqua here. Currently, it’s only available digitally, but don’t let that deter you: the digital edition is beautiful, and really showcases Natsumegu-sensei’s art, along with the lettering and solid translation work.

Ratings

Plot: 9 / 10
Art: 8.5 / 10
Characters: 8 / 10

Overall: 8.5 out of 10

Read If You Like…
Way of the Househusband
The Yakuza Series
Hinamatsuri
Romantic Comedies
Lighthearted Comedies


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