by Kanoko Sakurakoji; adaptation by Mai Ihara
published by Viz; $8.99 US
A classic romance set in a kabuki theater provides a comfortable “getting to know each other” story about a young couple proving that opposites attract.
Akari’s the typical “ordinary girl” manga character, a bit of a klutz who accidentally injures Horiuchi, a young stage star. She’s drawn with the typical wide eyes; he’s tall and glower-y, considered hot by Akari’s fellow schoolgirls. When she follows his cat into a theater (in a way that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland), she discovers his career.
To make up for her earlier thoughtlessness, Akari becomes his assistant (a combination dresser and gofer). Everyone’s stunned by this because he’s a known misanthrope, hating everyone. Because this is a romance, it’s really that he’s emotionally blocked, and his growing relationship with Akari allows him to become a better person, learn the importance of love, as well as improve his art.
She sees a part of him no one else does, and she won’t give up or leave him to himself. We read lots of her internal monologue as she ponders Horiuchi’s attitudes and her feelings about him. She’s in love, but she knows she doesn’t fit in his exclusive world of the theater. It’s solid emotional drama with the familiar Harlequin-like theme of waiting for the two to realize what the reader already knows: they’re made for each other.