TOKYOPOP’s Love X Love line of manga has been knocking romance stories out of the park, especially in the BL genre. With Our Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1, romance blends with travel and ultimately tell a story of a couple deepening their connection and discovering more about themselves along the way.
Created, written, and illustrated by mangaka Mone Sorai, Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 is published by TOKYOPOP through their Love X Love imprint, translated by Katie Kimura with retouching and lettering by Vibrraant Publishing Studio. In this volume, we’re introduced to a couple made up of polar opposites. Asahi Suzumura is serious, anxious, and an ex-salary man, while his boyfriend Mitsuki Sayama is an easygoing free-spirited professional photographer. While they may seem like an odd couple, they’ve known each other since high school and have promised to get married—once they vacation around the world and end up back in Japan, of course.
The power of Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 is how Sorai not only shows an already existing relationship but also how they explore Asahi’s impetus to travel. As the pair travel from country to country, the different people, cultures, and cuisine they encounter begin to bring them closer together. And when they have chance encounters with both strangers and old friends, they begin to be more open about their relationship allowing walls they had put up—or more specifically that Asahi put up—to begin to fall slowly.
As a romance, Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 is stunning. Most BL tend to focus on couples coming together. Still, this one focuses on an existing couple discovering each other and learning how to take the next step in their relationship. It’s an added lens that makes every sight they see and every experience they have, carry even larger importance.
Beyond the beautiful romantic storytelling, Sorai’s artwork beautifully illustrates diverse landscapes with both vibrant fashion and food that pop, even without full color. Additionally, they illustrate emotional and tender moments between Asahi and Mitsuki. Small touches, longing looks, bouts of bickering, and all of these small moments paint a larger picture of affection and love that is palpable even without dialogue. Instead of telling the audience every moment of their romance, Sorai shows it to us, with tiny hints on the page showing that there is more to the story than what we so far. From Mitsuki’s camera to the scar on Asahi’s chest, there is more to told, and I can’t wait to read it all.
While some elements of the series feel slightly dated, in ways of translation and reaction to different cultures, those are quickly blown past. Additionally, the places that the pair visit aren’t your standard fare. The story starts in Japan and then moves to Thailand, India, and Georgia (of all places), showcasing the wonder and culture in each country.
Overall, Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 offers a beautiful story that I’m happy is a series and not a one-shot. Asahi and Mitsuki’s dynamic is playful and intimate, and there is just enough mystery to their journey that will help spread the story across multiple volumes.
Our Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 is available wherever books are sold now.
Our Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1
Not-So-Lonely Planet Travel Guide Volume 1 offers a beautiful story that I’m happy is a series and not a one-shot. Asahi and Mitsuki’s dynamic is playful and intimate, and there is just enough mystery to their journey to help spread the story across multiple volumes.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.