YAGI THE BOOKSHOP GOAT (MANGA ONE-SHOT)
Creator: Fumi Furukawa
Publisher: TOKYOPOP (@TOKYOPOP)
WHAT IS IT?
A happy-go-lucky goat gets a job at a bookshop and bonds with his carnivorous co-workers in this adorable boys’ love one-shot.
Think Zootopia with a BL twist.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Carnivores and herbivores live in harmony in their respective zones in the land Yagi the goat calls home. He has dreamed of working as a bookseller for as long as he can remember. The only issue is that goats are notorious for eating paper on sight and are banned from entering bookshops! Desperate to fulfill his dreams, he ventures over to the carnivorous side and begins asking for employment.
When Ookami the wolf discovers that Yagi has a peculiar talent, he offers him a job at his bookstore. You see, when Yagi eats paper, he can taste the feelings within the words written on them, which makes his opinions highly valuable. His recommendations, innocent personality, and curious love of reading bring patrons flooding to Ookami’s shop on the daily. Ookami, however, still acts aloof and grumpy around the ever-cheerful goat. He's unable to admit his growing feelings for his innocent employee and fears for his safety more with each passing day.
As Yagi continues trying to live his best life, the dangerous nature of the carnivores threatens to bare its ugly teeth. Between the harsh realities of the world and Ookami’s stand-offish nature, will Yagi be able to overcome the obstacles life throws his way, or will he be forced to head back home with a broken heart?
Furukawa has created an immensely adorable and memorable cast. With their animalistic features and soft designs, the characters of this manga have a perfect balance of traits from both their animal counterparts and human attributes. Reintroducing the human-leaning characters is a refreshing take on the theme when many others fall into the anthropomorphic animal style instead.
The art style is filled with light shading and delicate, soft features. There is a noticeable lack of harsh blacks and an abundance of gentle shading and wispy textures. The illustrations are absolutely lovely and bring a sense of comfort to readers with the cozy clothing and inviting settings.
All of the text is legible and sized appropriately for the bubbles, the sound effects are subtle and don’t overpower the panels, and the fonts stand out against the backgrounds.
Unlike many other one-shot stories, Yagi the Bookshop Goat has a decent amount of character development (partially due to its 200+ page count). Though it falls into a few common and overused tropes, they are used well within the constraints of a single-volume story and allow for a deeper connection between our main couple.
The relationship between Yagi and Ookami is well-developed. There is a tenure to it since we are dropped into their story long after they meet, and they are portrayed with a sense of closeness that makes the journey they go on satisfying. Their personalities match that of their animal counterparts, which also plays well into the overarching narrative.
The supporting characters play a hefty role in the story, acting as more than simple plot devices to push things forward. They have strong personalities and spend time bonding with the main couple, helping to flesh out the world and allow Ookami and Yagi to grow outside of just the romantic aspects.
While the theme of herbivores and carnivores attempting to live in harmony has been used frequently in stories, the use of it in this manga works exceptionally well. It becomes a tangible threat to Yagi’s innocence in the form of themes like worried parents and preconceived notions, but doesn't lean on the fear factor to push the story forward.
The characters' names are the Japanese words for their animals! Yagi means goat, Ookami means wolf, and so on. It’s a clever detail.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: One brief moment of violence with blood, one scene of Yagi “under the influence,” nudity, heavy sexual themes/scenes of a sexual nature, use of alcohol. Recommended for 18+ readers only.
Though incredibly common in TOKYOPOP’s LOVExLOVE collection, the scenes of intimacy can seem a bit out of place (especially in a title as cute as this) and may catch some readers off guard.
It isn’t always easy to tell when the scenes are switching and the flashbacks aren’t always clearly defined. Often you’ll suddenly be on a new day from page-to-page without much warning.
There is a scene where Yagi essentially becomes high after eating an adult magazine. He’s shown to be quite delirious and forces himself onto Ookami. Ookami does eventually relent, so though it is consensual, it can be a bit off-putting since he isn't clear-headed. The scene is lengthy and fairly uncensored.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
A surprise hit from TOKYOPOP’s LOVExLOVE collection that many call their new favorite comfort title, Yagi the Bookshop Goat has all of the charm and comedy, as well as the sweet and sensual moments that we’ve come to expect from this lineup of one-shots. A refreshing take on fantasy BL with a cozy bookshop setting and down-to-earth cast, this manga is filled with low-key humor, cute romance, and themes focused on the importance of always following your dreams.
Though it does lean into some cliches and formatting repetition when it comes to the story beats that are common not only in the LOVExLOVE collection but in BL as a genre, the aesthetic and vibe of the story, as well as the whimsical character designs, gives it such a sense of cozy comfort that they can be easily dismissed. Yagi the Bookshop Goat is a worthy addition to any romance fan’s collection that is a guaranteed title you'll return to again and again.
HOW DO I READ IT?
(This title was given to me for review purposes, thanks TOKYOPOP!)
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