With a title like “Long Lost Pals Living Their Breast Life”, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was going to be straight-up hentai. But Breast Life is published by Irodori Comics under their all-ages Aqua label. And while I’m not sure I’d call it “all-ages” exactly – it definitely is a fanservice series – it’s far from the ultra-niche porn the title suggests.
The Obvious Draw
It sure does have a really specific gimmick though. You see, main characters Shun and Nana both have very impressive chests. After dropping Nana on her head as a seven year old during a botched attempt to carry her like a bride, Shun dedicated the next 15 years of his life to getting absolutely ripped as a weird sort of penance. Now he has a flawless, statuesque upper body. Nana, for her part, spent those 15 years simply living normally, and genetics worked its magic.
Breast Life wants you to know that these are both equally valid ways to get incredible tiddies. One of the biggest selling points for this series is the equal-opportunity fanservice. For plot purposes, Shun is the primary viewpoint character. But the art spends plenty of time in both their heads, looking respectfully in the first-person way that many ecchi manga these days use. Shun appears shirtless just as many times as Nana does, which isn’t actually that many – the nudity in this manga is surprisingly brief and fairly innocent.
Fanservice doesn’t work without good art and character designs, and of course Breast Life has plenty of that. The line art is super clean and the expression work is cute and varied, with enough chibi gag faces and flustered reactions from both parties to satisfy any rom-com fan. The character designs are all appealing, if not particularly distinctive in the whole spectrum of manga, though that may partly be the point. They look like fairly normal, believably hot people. Shun’s design especially strikes a good balance of tall and built but with a kind of nerdy face. That makes it easy to buy into Nana’s attraction to him but doesn’t go against his quiet, awkward personality.
The Long-Term Appeal
The character writing is where this series really comes into its own, in my opinion. It’s nice to read a story about adults who mostly act their age. Shun is painfully awkward at times, and Nana is seemingly a bit oblivious, so it never strays too far from the fluffy rom-com manga framework. But as things go on, they communicate pretty clearly with each other and are respectful of each other’s autonomy. They treat each other the way one would hope adults would.
Shun, as our viewpoint character, is a little bit better developed than Nana. He’s spent 15 years trying to mold himself into someone he fundamentally isn’t, and when he finally reconnects with the object of his affections, it becomes clear that the only change was external. He’s still just as shy and wishy-washy as he was at seven. But he keeps trying! He operates on pure bravado a lot of the time, only cringing, panicking or second-guessing later on when he’s alone. It’s a fun, and for me extremely relatable, character type.
We spend less time in Nana’s head, and so her characterization feels a little thinner to me, but it’s still a nice contrast to Shun’s. Her attraction to Shun seems like a more recent development, rather than a long-held love. But unlike Shun, who can’t deny his feelings, Nana seems hesitant to risk letting their old friendship turn into something else. So she also puts on a facade, pretending not to be picking up on Shun’s signals, at least at first.
The fun comes from watching Shun’s completely manufactured forwardness break down Nana’s walls and make her more accepting of her own feelings. The way they both poke and prod at the line between platonic and romantic more and more as the story goes on is adorable. It’s the perfect recipe for my classic will-they-won’t-they relationship-loving soul, but it feels a bit more adult, which is refreshing. Doubly so because I absolutely would never have expected a series with a hook like this one’s to go this hard on characterization.
If I had to offer one small gripe, it’s that this depth mostly comes in the second volume. I’d encourage interested readers to grab both volumes at once, because I can see some people thinking it’s “just” a shallow rom-com with a silly gimmick if they get through the first volume and stop there.
Long Lost Pals Living Their Breast Life has a lot to offer the comedy and fanservice crowds, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth it eventually rewards you with. Look beyond the massive mammaries and perfect pecs and you’ll find a realistic, charming little romance story about childhood friends reconnecting. It’s cute, funny, and a little sexy, and strikes a great balance between the romance and fanservice halves of its approach. Neither gets in the other’s way, and both are integral to its storytelling success. Unless you absolutely can’t abide by any fanservice whatsoever, I’d recommend Breast Life to any rom-com manga fan.
You can purchase Long Lost Pals Living Their Breast Life from Irodori Aqua.
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Story and Art: Tamaki Nao
Letterer: Finn K.
Compiling and Formatting: Zhuchka
Project Management: Katarina Kunstelj
Quality Assurance: On Takahashi, Zhuchka, Hara Gyatei
A special thank you to Irodori Comics for allowing us the opportunity to review this title. Receiving a review copy has in no way altered the opinions expressed in this article.
- Cute, realistic romance between adult characters that actually act like adults.
- Abundant fanservice doesn't distract from the plot, and even feels like a necessary part of it.
- Surprising depth of character writing.
- That depth doesn't really show up until the second volume.
- You definitely need at least a tolerance for fanservice to get the most out of this series.
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