Taketora, a struggling novelist, is used to living in the shadow of the past. He is, after all, the very image of his late grandfather, a handsome actor with a dour demeanour, an association that keeps Taketora ever tied to his lineage.
When it feels as though it would take a miracle to escape his creative dead end of dissolution, destiny unearths a divine gift of from his ancestry. Shiba, grandfather's his dearly departed dog has returned from the dead to serve his master with all the devotion of his heart! The catch? His canine character has been reborn in human form!
Shattering a solitary existence (along with a whole lot of crockery) Shiba is determined to repay his debt of gratitude to Taketora.
The devotion of man's best friend transcends both time and the afterlife as resurrection turns to romance in Ruff Love.
Deux continue to draw out more adventures in anthropomorphism with the release of Ruff Love (from the Japanese title Shiba to Issho – Shiba & I). Kemonomimi manga are particularly appealing to readers who can recognise their own experiences in the pages. Authors draw upon the habits and idiosyncrasies of their animals, particularly for comic effect. When combined with a Boys' Love breeding, this gives the read a bright and glossy coat and irresistible charm to animal lovers! This is where Kirishima's work shines; she knows her dogs down to the ground, which acts as a nice piece of reality to temper the rather ridiculous premise.
The dichotomy of domestic pet lovers tends to fall into two distinct demographics, those who favour cats and those devoted to dogs. Naturally, as I am personally fond of felines, the work touches me less but this is not what makes me have a bone to pick with the book. It is another matter of taste, I concede but for me Kirishima's character designs are inconsistent and unattractive. The story, while humorous and heart-warming is hampered by a heavy style that kills the animal magnetism integral to boys' love erotica. For a furry hardcore piece this really puts Ruff Love out in the doghouse.
Art apart, I enjoyed the story for the interactions with past and present, love and obligation presented through the personification of pets. Additional canine company in the form of the gruff Akatsuki, another shaggy soul that strays onto the scene, fetches up some welcome wildness to counteract Shiba's subservience.
For the benefit of other yaoi fans, if Kirishima's style suits your breed of bishonen you might want to adopt this little puppy dog's tale into your home