One of the newest releases from Juné Manga, Wish of God is a collection of boys’ love stories by Jugoro Isaka. The titular story stars two men who get tasked with helping a talking Shisa statue find its mate, and they must confront their own feelings for each other along the way. The anthology’s other tales also depict gay couples who seem fated to be together, even if they don’t receive such literal divine intervention. Though their settings and plots may vary, there are a number of recurring threads throughout the book. But is that to the manga’s benefit? Is Wish of God good?
As far as the titular story goes, its ideas are stronger than their execution. I love the concept of the two men growing closer through their quest to find the other Shisa statue. What better context for characters to bond than through a journey? Seeing queer men play the leads in such a supernaturally themed story is also nice given how relatively rare it is. With that said, there’s not a lot of actual bonding here. The pair actually spend a lot of page-time apart from one other, and their relationship’s progression at the end doesn’t feel earned. The mystical elements also feel underutilized to the point where they could be removed without affecting the manga all that notably.
The collection’s other stories go up and down in terms of quality. “How to Tame Your Puppy Boyfriend” has perhaps the best art, as Isaka delivers lots of amusing, cute, and emotive facial expressions. The characters’ feelings are clearly on display and it’s fun to watch their banter play out. The story doesn’t try to do too much at once; we get just a few scenes that show who the men are as individuals and as a couple.
“Unrequited Love Spell,” meanwhile, is much less successful. It has sort of a romantic triangle, as a young man develops feelings for his brother’s friend who has feelings for said brother. Unfortunately, none of the characters get developed very much and their angst just isn’t that interesting. The art here is also some of the roughest in the volume, with wonky anatomy and facial inconsistency issues. Some of the dialogue also feels a bit stilted and doesn’t flow in a way that feels natural.
“Enough of Life” and “Coward’s Love Song” are the anthology’s most similar pair of manga. Like “Wish of God,” they depict pairs of men who suddenly find themselves together. The characters in “Enough of Life” have fairly consistent personalities and a well-written dynamic between them. With that said, the art and plot are too bland to make it worth writing home about. “Coward’s Love Song,” meanwhile, is like a worse version of the aforementioned story. In this case the new couple consists of a high school student and an adult whose relationship is both gross and just unbelievable. The characters’ actions don’t make sense and the manga attempts to end on a happy note that feels both unsettling and driven by plot necessity.
All in all, Wish of God is neither one of the best nor one of the worst yaoi titles I’ve read recently. One of its biggest cons is just that it’s bland. Most of the stories and characters feel very underdeveloped, and a lot of the art is rough and unpolished in ways that don’t seem like conscious aesthetic decisions. There is some good dialogue sprinkled throughout, and when Isaka’s at her best she delivers some great facial expressions and body language. Nonetheless, the volume is largely forgettable.