by Shouko Akira; adapted by Mai Ihara
published by Viz; $8.99 US
As I thought previously, this series is growing on me, just like Macharu, the boy who looks like a baby monkey, is growing on Haruna.
When I first started this series, I thought it was another shojo high school romantic comedy full of hijinks, but it’s turning out to be softer and more emotional. It’s really about what happens when the one you care for isn’t the one you’re supposed to be attracted to.
The structure is interesting, too. There are three stories here: the first chapter, continued from the previous book, shows Haruna and Macharu’s first date at an amusement park. He’s a kid, giddy at rides that raise his adrenaline, while she doesn’t care much for the thrill rides. But they gain pleasure just from being in each other’s company, doing what the other one wants and enjoying their happiness.
The second, lengthy piece is (as the author explains in a later note) a more stand-alone story intended as a showcase for the series. It features the students competing on a quiz show at the same time Haruna’s father is getting out of jail. It works well as a sample of the series’ strengths and themes.
The last is a charming tale of Macharu’s younger sister. She’s got a crush on a friend of her brother’s, but at a band recital, she, like Haruna, learns the virtue of the nice guy it takes a while to notice. It shouldn’t surprise me that the artist is so good with love stories, since she’s previously done a book of short romances, Times Two.
It also wasn’t until now that I began noticing how good the art was, how smooth and well-drawn with plenty of feeling. Just seeing Macharu’s grin makes me happy. The characters seem to have more unique looks than the standard shojo cast, although much of that comes from their expressions, not their design.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)