by Yumi Unita
published by Yen Press; $12.99 US
The first chapter presents the concept of a memorial tree, a growing thing planted to mark a particular key point in a child’s life. As the kid grows, so does the tree, giving the family a living marker of connection. Daikichi intends to plant a memorial tree to mark Rin’s starting school, but that leads to additional questions, as she (and we) learn about his tree and whether one was planted to mark her birth by her deceased father. The tradition connects relatives across generations, as the same plant is chosen for its various good characteristics.
Even more so now that Rin’s active and opening up, I love seeing her on the page. She’s minimally but elegantly designed, with a focus on her eyes and simple flowing hair. It’s refreshing to read about such an energetic, centered, determined child. Simply put, seeing her makes me happy.
She and her little friend Kouki are looking out for each other. Like many girls, Rin is the mature one, solving problems for him. Meanwhile, Daikichi thinks more about how to manage his work life (and budget) to be a responsible father, pointing out to himself (and thus us) how unsupportive culture can be of working parents. Rin’s mother continues to be a supporting character, as Daikichi attempts to keep her aware of her child without giving her an opening to reclaim or hurt Rin. Daikichi also gets hit on by a new co-worker, who’s portrayed in an unflattering fashion to get to the message that hurrying home to make dinner for his daughter is ultimately more enjoyable than meaningless dating.
This series is slice-of-life that’s realistic for so many potential readers, but exactly the kind of thing you don’t see in many American comics. (Those cartoonists who know parenting tend to be too busy to make them!) As Rin grows up, the potential for different kinds of stories — her school adventures, dad’s workplace encounters, their family moments — increases, making for a very nice variety of reading in each volume.