Manga Review: BARBARITIES Vol. 1 by Tsuta Suzuki (2023)

Genre: Historical Yaoi Seinen
Year Release in English: 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Political corruption, sexual harassment, explicit sexual content

People call this a historical fiction inspired by Renaissance Europe but I’m pretty sure it’s a secondary world fantasy minus the magic and monsters (I would love for someone to correct me if this is not the case).

Viscount Adam Canning is hired to be the bodyguard of Lord Montague, who has several secrets up his sleeve in order to maintain the efficiency of his station. But tensions between church and state brew in the background, and while a romance between a playboy and a sexually inept young man play out in the forefront.

I kept this manga on my radar when an artist was drawing Luis and Gil, one of the other couples in this work (they are very gay and absurd in their affection). The characters are charming with very quick work done by Suzuki to establish their backstories. I am pulled in hard by the political intrigue unfolding in this work. There’s a tension between the main religion and the more secular monarchy, plus Adam’s entanglements with the queen and her cohort. Joel seems to have several tricks up his sleeve, including eluding an assassination attempt. Who sent the killers? What does he know? I’m invested in the story as well as seeing when (if?) the insta-love and the slow-burn crush will even out in their attraction.