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Manga / Love Mode

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Love Mode is an eleven-volume Boys' Love manga series created by Shimizu Yuki, which was serialized in Magazine Be x Boy from 1995 to 2003.

It centers around the Aoe Family, primarily Aoe Reiji, who runs, among other things, a dating club for men. There is also an audio drama series of seven volumes, loosely covering the middle of the manga series. The storyline features many different couples.

This work contains examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Naoya is often compared to a cat, so it’s almost fitting that he ended up adopting a stray kitten. Whenever most people talk about Reiji’s lover, Naoya is usually referred to as “the kitten”.
    • Jin is often compared to a “wolf”, and Kiichi specifically warns Naoya about the “big bad wolf Jin” when Naoya visits Reiji after-hours. While Naoya does run into Jin at the Blue Boy, Jin knows exactly who Naoya is and is nothing but respectful to him.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Reiji and Kiichi’s dad, Shougo.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Upon their first meeting Reiji quickly gets fed up with Izumi’s denials over his sexuality and the nature his relationship with Takamiya. After dishing out a "Reason You Suck" Speech over Izumi’s treatment of Takamiya, Reiji points out that Izumi chooses to hang out with Takamiya despite his protests and more or less asks, “That must mean you like him, right?!”. Izumi responds by throwing a clock at Reiji and through Takamiya’s window, screaming that he doesn’t like Takamiya.
  • Art Evolution: And how. Just compare Reiji and Naoya in Volume 2 to the one-shot sequel.
  • Bank Robbery: In Volume 6, Naoya, Haruomi, and Kiichi become unfortunate victims during a robbery of a jewelry store. Naoya and Kiichi are kidnapped during the getaway.
  • Battle Butler: Kashima Haruomi, who is the housekeeper for the Aoe estate, but can kick much ass as well.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Although the lovemaking scenes are drawn, they mostly show cones of light for a penis.
  • Bitch Slap: In one of the flashback stories, Aoe Shougo of all people is on the receiving end of this by Nishiki when the former continues inflicting abuse upon Haruomi. As with the trope Shougo falls into Stunned Silence…but then he grabs Nishiki and drags him off without another word.
  • But Not Too Bi: Reiji is confirmed to be bisexual, but his relationships with women are relegated to his backstory (where Kiichi states Reiji used to have older girlfriends when he was in high school) and a cheating ex-girlfriend who he dumped at the very beginning of Volume 2. His romances shown in the series though are with men; his first love Shiki and Naoya.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Only one male character is admittedly heterosexual, and he is a subordinate at that.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The entire cast, with a few supporting characters, is either tall, handsome and successful, or smaller, wide-eyed and cute.
  • Caught Up in a Robbery: In Volume 6, Naoya, Haruomi, and Kiichi become unfortunate victims during a robbery of a jewelry store. Naoya and Kiichi are later taken hostage during the subsequent high-speed chase.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Aoe Shougo. Blackmail and extortion were very common business practices by Shougo, and it didn’t matter to him who he hurt in the pursuit of money and power. He even used his own children remorselessly to get what he wanted. In addition, Shougo was the founder of the Blue Boy, which can politely be described as a gay Host Club but in reality the premise of the business is prostitution. But this easily fits until Shougo’s business practices.
    • Reiji is a subversion to the trope as he handles his father’s businesses reluctantly but professionally and as ethically as he can manage.
  • Declaration of Protection: Haruomi gave one to Kiichi when they were teenagers, and he is devastated when Kiichi falls victim to kidnapping and is shot in Volume 6.
    • Shougo gives a villainous one to Nishiki in Volume 9, promising that he (Shougo) would destroy anyone who would dare hurt Nishiki. But subverted when Nishiki tells Shougo that he’s the one who hurts him most.
  • Delinquent Hair: Arashi dyes his hair blonde, but he’s simply rebellious and not a delinquent.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Naoya loses his entire family in a motor vehicle accident, loses his job, has his apartment burned down, and has to leave school due to a lack of funds. He just misses becoming The Woobie.
  • Did Not Get the Guy: Jin fell in love with one of his clients, a foreign Prince named Shareef who was supposed to join the clergy, ten years prior to the series. Their relationship however was doomed to never evolve past a host/client relationship because while Jin wanted more, Shareef only sought to be “dirtied” by Jin. Then there was the fact that Shareef was already in love with his cousin Fai. Jin ultimately understood all of this and encouraged the pair to be together no matter if their relationship had religious or societal stigma.
  • Disappeared Grandpa: In volume 5 Naoya finds out he has a maternal grandfather who only takes an interest in him because of his own ailing health. Considering Naoya had been living in horrendous poverty before meeting Reiji, he's not in the least bit pleased about this news.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Aoe Shougo. After giving Reiji and Kiichi appalling childhoods and destroying people’s lives for power, he dies abruptly in a plane crash.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Katsuki has a habit of doing this when he’s down on this luck, and whenever he’s having problems with Jin.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Seiichi really dislikes drug usage and he doesn’t hide his dislike from clients. When he sees Tomoki popping pills he bluntly tells him to stop it, and when Tomoki shows signs of being ill later he blames the pills and confiscates them. Seiichi however had no way of knowing that the “drugs” Tomoki was taking was actually painkillers to make the pain of his inoperable brain tumor tolerable.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Reiji and Kiichi’s father Shougo didn’t love them. He kept them so long as they were useful to him, and the moment one of them (Kiichi) lost value to Shougo he was discarded and disowned. He was also a brutal businessman who had no problem destroying lives in the pursuit of money and power. The only person Shougo did love was his lover, Nishiki, who was also the only one who could somewhat keep Shougo in line. But only somewhat.
  • Furo Scene: The Jungle Bath at the Aoe estate.
  • Gorgeous Gaijin: Ian Sanders fit this to a T, being a gorgeous American model in Japan. Blonde hair, green eyes, plus he’s tall and has a fit muscular physique.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Shakashita Izumi, Rin, and Katsuki are known to fly into screaming fits with the slightest provocation.
  • Has a Type: From what is shown and based on dialogue, Jin seems to prefer younger and pretty men.
    • Men from the Aoe family have been shown to have younger, fair-haired men as their lovers.
  • Hot Pursuit: During a Hostage Situation where Naoya and Kiichi are kidnapped by Chinese crooks, Haroumi's twin brother Tien Lee chases the bad guys, while his partner Yi Shin shoots the car with a slingshot!
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Shakashita Izumi is a victim of forced sex due to the similarity in names with a host of the Blue Boy club. Over time he falls in love with Takamiya, but he’s the only man Izumi loves.
  • Incest Subtext: Both Reiji and Takamiya experience this with the people closest to them in their lives Kiichi and Shiki respectively. They even bond over this and their own fears over such feelings.
  • Infodump: Upon their second meeting, Kiichi tells Naoya everything about Reiji, from the business’s he owns to the type of partner he’s looking for. Reiji is not amused.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Though Reiji is only a jerkass in the sense of how he treats Shakashita Izumi (ex. his indifference to what Izumi has experienced being mistaken for Yanase Izumi) he does have a point when he yells at Izumi over his treatment of Takamiya. While Takamiya did mistake Izumi for a host, Reiji points out to Izumi that Izumi chooses to continue to hang out with Takamiya after this happened; continuing to visit Takamiya’s apartment and be alone with him, despite Izumi’s insistence that he hates homosexuals. Reiji feels that Izumi would not be doing this unless he actually liked Takamiya, which Izumi does but at that point he was not ready to admit it to himself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: At the end of Volume 1, Reiji gifts Izumi a box of chocolates laced with aphrodisiacs as a means of “helping” his relationship with Takamiya. Neither Izumi or Takamiya are happy with this “help”, and Takamiya even punches Reiji in the face later in retaliation. Fast forward to Volume 7, and Reiji finds himself on the receiving end of such “help” from Kiichi when Naoya finds himself with those exact same chocolates!
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Tomoki has an inoperable brain tumor, has essentially a few months left to live, and all he wants is for somebody to love him. So he hires Seiichi of the Blue Boy, whom he had fallen in love with after meeting him by chance at a hospital, to be his lover for two weeks. Seiichi ends up falling in love with him for real and quits his job at the Blue Boy so Tomoki can spend his remaining days with somebody who loves him. They move together, but Tomoki dies only a day or two after that.
  • May October Romance: A couple of the relationships feature significantly older Semes and younger Ukes.
  • Meaningful Name: Haruomi’s name. His name is actually Tien Shue, but when Aoe Shougo “gave” him to Kiichi he renamed Tien Shue “Haruomi” after Kiichi’s dead puppy. Who Shougo himself had killed earlier that day.
  • Mistaken for Host: Shakashita Izumi is mistaken for Yanase Izumi on two separate occasions, and in both instances the first Izumi ends up in a bad situation.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Takamiya, when he realizes that the Izumi he’s been with is not a host from Blue Boy.
    • Wataru has this when he cuts Naoya with a box cutter.
  • One Head Taller: The primary ones are Reiji/Naoya and Takamiya/Izumi, but there are plenty of side arcs with others.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Shakashita Izumi spends most of Volume 1 being very outspokenly homophobic and says several times that he “doesn’t like homos”. However, given the fact that he had quite a few instances of very bad encounters with gay men, his attitude is seen very sympathetically. By the end of the first volume though he gets over this as he realizes and accepts that he loves Takamiya.
  • Redemption Quest: Takamiya spends the majority of Volume 1 trying to redeem himself to Izumi for mistaking him as a host from Blue Boy and despite Izumi’s insistence that he won’t ever forgive Takamiya he still hangs out with him and gradually becomes open to Takamiya kissing him. Takamiya ultimately accomplishes this trope by the end of the volume as he finally earns Izumi’s forgiveness and love.
  • Sadistic Choice: After Haruomi sells himself into servitude to Aoe Shougo, Shougo gives Haruomi two options; he can have his entire body tattooed, or he can publicly “fuck a dog”. Given the huge social stigma of tattoos in Japan, and also Bestiality Is Depraved, obviously neither option is good for Haruomi. He does choose to get tattooed though, but due to the reluctance of the tattoo artist Shougo himself only gets as far as tattooing two dots onto Haruomi’s forehead before Kiichi appears.
  • Shipper on Deck: Kiichi is very supportive of Reiji and Naoya getting together, and is also supportive of Yanase Izumi getting together with Arashi.
  • Significant Name Overlap: There are two main characters with the first name Izumi; Shakashita Izumi (a high school student), and Yanase Izumi (a Bishounen host). The confusion between the two Izumi’s kickstarts the plot of Volume 1.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Reiji and Shakashita Izumi. Ian and Jin.
  • Truth in Television: While Naoya's life in between losing his whole family and meeting Reiji may come off as overly extreme, there have been cases in Japan (ex. the Sugamo case of 1988, and the Osaka case of 2010) where children are alone and fending for themselves (and in some cases have died) due to societal abandonment.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When Arashi stumbled upon Yanase Izumi being raped by a stalker he beat the assailant so severely that he'd thought he killed the man. After asking Kiichi about it, it's revealed Arashi crushed the man's nose and left him covered in blood.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Naoya really doesn’t like cars because he lost his family in a car accident. In the beginning he absolutely refused to get into a vehicle and would walk everywhere, and a second car accident with Reiji didn’t help matters. Eventually he’s able to ride in cars without fuss, although it is still uncomfortable for him.
  • Yakuza: Aoe Reiji is tall, dark, and, at least once, mistaken for yakuza. The fact that his business includes a variety of shady businesses probably doesn't help matters much.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Rin has the physical appearance of a gender-flipped version of this trope, however his personality is an aversion to this trope.