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Alley of First Love    by Ellie Mamahara order for
Alley of First Love
by Ellie Mamahara
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Ellie Mamahari's Alley of First Love is a tender love story that truly depicts the feelings of someone in love. Shusuke's best friend Atsushi moved to England after high school to study environmental science and then work in the university's lab. Shusuke was sad that Atsushi left without really consulting him, but thought it was best as it would give him the chance to get over his confusing unexplored deeper feelings for his best friend.

When Atsushi's lab is shut down and he returns to Japan, Shusuke is not sure he can take it. He breaks up with all of the girls he is currently seeing, but still cannot get up enough courage to tell Atsushi how he really feels. Keeping his feelings bottled up, Shusuke almost ruins not only any chance of romance, but also their friendship.

While Blu is the yaoi imprint of Tokyopop, Alley of First Love is not as hard as many of the titles they publish. It is not filled with graphic sex scenes (like some yaoi) but rather is a sweet love story to which anyone can relate, although it is still aimed at women. Also, due to Mamahari's more angular and minimalist style, Shusuke and Atsushi are not as drop-dead gorgeous as many yaoi bishonen; rather, it is their emotional character that makes the reader fall in love with them.

Alley of First Love is a one-shot with a complete story that leaves the reader satisfied at the end (and the bonus story is a nice little epilogue that lightens the mood). While Ellie Mamahari's drawing style may not be my favorite, she sure knows how to tell a story and I will be looking for more of her work in the future.

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