by Minoru Toyoda; adapted by David and Eriko Walsh
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.95 US
The first thing that sets this manga apart is its look, specifically, the characters’ eyes. They’re simple and flat, like a kid would draw, yet they’re used to achieve subtle effects. The same is true of the lead.
Hoshino walks up to Negishi during a crowded classroom lunchtime. In front of their fellow students, he declares that he likes her and asks her out. She doesn’t even know his name, and of course, she’s embarrassed by the way he’s drawing attention to their interaction. He’s direct and unashamed to tell her what he feels and thinks. This makes him oblivious to normal expectations about how people should relate to each other; he also doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of him.
This attitude, combined with the flat art style, made this manga remind me of a minicomic. I was thinking of creators like John Porcellino or Jeffrey Brown, although the art here isn’t quite that simplified. It does give the feel of being drawn by someone younger, though.
I kept wondering what Hoshino’s story really was. I didn’t want to accept him as he presented himself, because it would have been too obvious. Maybe we’re supposed to, and I’m just reading depth into stoicism and surface motivations. I’m not sure. (In that way, I feel like Negishi.)
Anyway, he and Negishi go on a date, kiss for the first time, meet parents, and so on. It’s not like other manga, requiring a certain amount of acceptance for both the characters and the reader, but its unusual approach to teen romance makes it a great choice for those looking for something out of the ordinary.