Every quarter we are running a Manga Review Contest where you can submit a review from a selected list of manga. If you want to participate or learn more, click the link. This manga review is about Links by Natsuki Kizu.
This review is written by Elizabeth
When I read the first volume of Natsuki Kizu's Given in 2020, I immediately became hooked on its irresistible melding of boys' love and band intrigue. After binging the books, the anime, and the live-action adaptation, the wait for Given volume 7 (and its long-awaited OVA) made me twitchy for a Kizu fix. So, the news of an English release of Kizu's earlier collection Links was welcome indeed!
While Links differs from Given in many ways, it's difficult not to compare the two works. Not only do the BL romances share a few key themes—grief, music, the "out for you" trope—the characters often are similar visually. Shinobu looks like he could be the twin of Given's Haruki, and so many of Yusei's mannerisms reminded me of Haruki's bandmate Mafuyu. The key issue for me was not how much the Links characters resemble the Given guys, but how much they resemble each other! Yusei, Ryo, and Yahiko have very similar hairstyles and facial expressions. Since the stories have very abrupt segues from chapter to chapter, it can be hard to tell the characters apart at times. This really confused me, and undercut the effectiveness of the connected plotlines (Even though it may spoil things, I recommend consulting the character bios at the end first; I wish I had). Those used to Given's spare scenes of school and stage may be overwhelmed by Links' detail-packed panels; the imagery is gorgeously detailed, but the stories can feel somewhat rushed. I admire Kizu's ability to tie everything together but feel that more development and fewer couples would have pushed Links from good to great.
While I would recommend Given first, I would call Links a must-read for Given fanatics, since it foreshadows a lot of what makes that series special. Links' ambitious plotting and graphic richness make it easy to forget that Kizu was just 22 when she wrote it. So, in spite of my quibbles, I think it's a worthwhile volume for the Kizu-curious and BL fans who already know Given.
Check back every month for our manga review contest page as we will be adding new manga to the list! Don't forget to submit your reviews for a chance to win a $75 gift card like Elizabeth did!
Links features story and art by Natsuki Kizu.
BL collection of intertwining stories covering four not-quite lovers as they find what links them together.
Akiha plays the piano and ponders his relationship with Yahiko, a friend with benefits he can't quite bring himself to call his lover regardless of how freely Yahiko cares for him. Despite their constant bickering, Sado and Nakajo appear close enough to be lovers. But Nakajo has convinced himself he can never have Sado, which leads him to seek out reasons to hate him even as he stays by his side. Shibata is an overly friendly older man who rather insistently hits on Sekiya, a socially awkward radio DJ. Even with his DJ persona, Sekiya has a hard time expressing the roiling emotions within him. A stray cat brings Kameda and Ogikawa together. The two spend lazy days eating, drinking, and playing with their cat, all without calling it love.Add to CartLearn More