Riyako's love life is a lush bed of roses. Wrapped in the warm embrace of her dashing lover Nobuki, she dreams of their future together... that is, until the day she is pricked by the thorns of his betrayal. In reality, Riyako is only one of his many collected trinkets, strung along for temporary titillation. Cast aside, confused and cheated, Riyako turns to the sweet new stranger called Shogo, who appears in the nick of time to save her from her loneliness. This new beau, however, may be more deadly to her heart than her even former trauma. Their chance connection is a counterfeit of coincidence and the sweet kisses are laced with a deceitful poison.
For all the hot and heady pleasures of their affair, like drug, Shogo's touch comes with a high price. Will Riyako be able to give up her new addiction?
Pretty Poison had promise. I had studied that sweet style on the front cover with interest, peeling away the shrink wrap with the hopes of uncorking a potent little love potion... but an erotic elixir, it is not.
Pretty Poison recovers from being a hopelessly insipid concoction thanks to the engaging character set up and a refreshingly realistic mix of complex personalities. Riyako is naive, somewhat immature but sweetly stubborn in her heart, adhering fervently to her morals. It is the only thing that gives her an edge of maturity over her bad boy high school lover, Shogo, who for the greater part, holds the all power in their relationship.
It is not enthralling yet holds more appeal that the prior redikomi I have read from LuvLuv press. Shogo simmers with an air of arrogance, his defiant gaze permeates the panels with a provocative presence that affirms his addictive quality to the reader.
As for the ecchi elements, there's a little heat with a dash of desperation but again, Pretty Poison does not have the strength to achieve sex scenes that are truly alluring.
At the close of the title piece follows Narukami's short, Yuji Scores, a nice little story about a girl preparing to be the perfect footballer's wife.
Cheery Chisa is wild about her pro player partner, Yuji and when he proposes out of the blue, it seems like a dream come true. Reality and responsibility, however, threaten to shatter both her confidence and their connection for good.
Drawing from personal experience, as Narukami expresses in the author's after word, goes a long way in building a believable bond between characters. This is one of the elements that I feel is often woefully absent in so many redikomi I have encountered. While other genres may not generate authenticity from the fibres of real life, this is not what matters, in the end it is the author's own conviction that counts. To Narukami's credit she has used own experiences to her advantage pushing Pretty Poison points of appeal just that little bit higher.