Another month has gone past, and that means another otaku reads round up! As I was in Japan for half of November, I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted. But I still managed to check out two romance series and one comedy. Check out which one I enjoyed the most and which one was my biggest frustration of the month. Also, quick, psst you can read about my Japan travel adventures over here!
Marry Me! (Ongoing)
Art & Story : Yuuki Miku
The Japanese government has started a new law called the ‘NEET Protection’ law. The law essentially couples together a working individual with a NEET, they get married and it’s hoped that the working individual has a positive influence on the NEET. Akiyasu Shin, a 28 year old civil servant is one of the first individuals to get married under this law. His new wife, Sawamoto Himari, has become a recluse after the death of her grandmother and is not too happy to have a random husband knocking on her door!
I love romance stories, but I find in manga they’re often not done well. So I’m always on an endless search to find something that is unique and gets my heart racing, and this story did just that. I loved seeing the relationship between Akiyasu and Sawamoto slowly develop from two people thrown into an odd situation to something more. Sawamoto in particular is such a likeable character, she’s anxious but excited to learn about new things, there’s such a strength to her seemingly frail persona. I adore this series!
Kareshi no Neko ga Kawaikunai! (Ongoing)
Art & Story: Maeda Aki
Matsuri has just moved in with her baseball superstar boyfriend, but there’s one thing standing in her way to a happy home life. That is, her boyfriend’s cat Sayuri. Thus begins a battle of wits as Matsuri and Sayuri compete for attention and also have to learn to tolerate each other’s company.
Overall I found this series really funny. Each ‘chapter’ is just a one page gag, which makes for some easy very light reading. One thing I did get a bit confused on is there was no real consistency with Sayuri’s character, one moment she’s doing internal monologue and then it disappears for 15 chapters and then she’s back doing it. But I still had a lot of laughs making my way through this series and found some moments very relatable with my own struggles with my cats!
And the Down Right Frustrating…
Not A Sugar Daddy (Ongoing)
Art & Story: Pyapya
Dear god where do I begin with this one? The series starts off like a wholesome silly boys love webtoon. The story follows couple Jungwoo (who looks 30) and Youngmin (who looks 18), when in reality they’re both in their early 20s. Now, I was totally onboard for this mix-matched couple and the cute misunderstandings that arise from their looks. But then, chapter 2 came round and ruined everything! Youngmin is viciously bullied at his university when a girl who has a crush on him mistakes his relationship with Jungwoo as compensated dating. If things couldn’t get any worse, a professor that Youngmin admires rapes him. After the assault, Yougmin is manipulated into thinking that he ‘led’ the professor on and is blackmailed into doing sexual favours.
At the time of writing this, there’s about 24 chapters out and I don’t know how I go through them. It was just so horrendously bleak and upsetting, and almost unnecessarily so. Almost, as if, the creator went ‘how can I make these characters suffer as much as possible?’ and just threw everything they could at them. So, essentially, there’s not much of a story except seeing two genuine guys suffers for no reason at all. The art itself is alright but I noticed some weird shading here and there. Definitely my worst and most frustrating read of the month.
That’s it for November! I hope you enjoyed reading my reactions to these three series, and I’ve either introduced you to a cool new series or warned you off a bad one. Next month is December so I may be doing a top manga of 2018. We’ll see how I go!
Let me know in the comments what your favourite/ most impressionable reads of the month were!
Otaku Monthly Reads is a new feature that will be added to Two Happy Cats. At least, I hope, we’ll see how long I can keep it going! Just to give a quick overview of it, each month I’ll be selecting about three manga/ manhwa/ webtoons I’ve read that really stood out to me, whether they be for the right reasons or the wrong ones. Each manga will get a quick synopsis and review, but nothing too detailed as I want this to be a ‘bite sized’ monthly feature. Since it’s October, the manga I will be focusing will all be horror but in most other months it’ll be a mixture of genres.
I hope you enjoy this new feature!
Pumpkin Night (Ongoing) Story: Hakazono Masaya Art: Taniguchi Seima
A young girl is home alone and receives a threatening message from someone unknown to her. A stranger appears at her doorstep, attacks her, she runs but can’t call for help. Sound familiar? Like most horror films, ‘Pumpkin Night’ begins with a pretty familiar set up and runs with the cliche. As, following on from the girl’s death, we’re introduced to a group of friends who seem to know the attacker and the secret behind the ferocity of it. ‘Pumpkin Night’ won’t win any awards for ingenuity but somehow seeing the same old story reimagined once more just works with the manga’s intense art style.
In fact, it was this art style that first drew me to ‘Pumpkin Night’. I first stumbled upon the series when a mutual was sharing screen caps of it on Twitter. I was immediately gripped by the harsh and detailed art style, and couldn’t tear my eyes away from the blood and gore. I knew I immediately had to check it out. The series never tries to be more than it is, there’s no ridiculous philosophical monologues or epic life and death discussions. It’s a classic horror tale with cheap gore, but gosh does it work well.
Kuroi Hon / Kuro Ihon (Complete) Story: Hokazono Masaya Art: Takaminato Motosuke
Is – is that two works by Hokazono on your top three list? Yep, it is! And to be honest I didn’t even notice until I’d finished writing it. Over the last few years Hokazono has worked on a collection of short horror stories, divided into three manga volumes ‘Kuroi’ (Black), ‘Akai’ (Red) and ‘Shiroi’ (White). Each chapter is introduced by way of a group of people who have gathered to tell ghost stories. They usually begin with saying “this happened to a friend of mine” or “this was told to me by my co-worker”. Each story is very different to one another, but most are pretty creepy!
Since the stories are so short there’s not much development in them, and I feel Hokazono’s work really flourishes when he can expand on characters and settings. But what I did enjoy about the series was the art. Takaminato has an almost deceptively simple art style, reminding me of the early 1990s manga series like Sailor Moon or Ranma 1/2. But then a ghost or demon will appear and the details in their deformed face and its contrast to the characters around them is quite disturbing. There’s a few images in particular that pop up in my head when I’m trying to go to sleep at night.
And The Disappointing
Kiriko (complete) Art & Story: Honda Shingo
A small group of adults have returned to their country-side high school, for a mini-reunion after receiving a mysterious letter from ‘K’. The letter references the death anniversary of their classmate, Okumura Kiroko, a death all of them have been running from for the last 17 years. Nonetheless, the six of them gather to celebrate their lives and the memory of their school idol.
The series had an interesting story, great art, a fantastic twist and lots of potential right up until the last few pages But it was all ruined in about 10 pages as the story tangled itself up into a bunch of nonsense. I won’t spoil the ending as this is just a review, but gosh was it disappointing!
Unfortunately as I’m currently on hiatus, I wasn’t able to share all the fantastic horror manga, webtoons and anime I read this month. But I’m really glad I had this post planned to at least get into the spooky spirit. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and maybe even checked out one of the series I mentioned.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite/ most impressionable reads of the month were!
It’s no secret in the otaku community, that reading manga through sites like MangaFox and MangaRock are the norm. These sites are free, but ultimately harm the manga business as mangaka, translators and publishing companies do not receive a single cent for their hard work. My theory, for the use of these sites, is based on two reasons – availability of manga and cost. That, if there was a way to get the manga you wanted quickly, easily and without costing an arm and a leg, fans would be more inclined to support the artists and the work they so desperately love. That’s where ‘Renta’, a digital English manga streaming store comes in. The store allows readers to either rent or purchase digital versions of their favourite (or soon to be favourite) shoujo, josei and yaoi manga series. Even better, it’s ridiculously cheap and all the funds go straight towards the translators and manga artists!
The site works via a point system. Users create an account and purchase points, with 100 points equally about a dollar USD. Buying points is cheapest on Wednesdays, with a discount of about $9.71 for 1000 points. 100 points can usually purchase one chapter of a manga. You can also pay for chapters with cash, but points are recommended. Chapters or volumes can be purchased forever or to rent for 48 hours. If you change your mind after choosing to rent, and want to keep it, you can always upgrade your purchase easily.
Rentals rarely cost more than $4 USD, and forever purchases at most are about $8 USD. From my experience, these ‘higher’ end purchases are usually for the entire volume not just individual chapters. If you’re unsure about a series, many manga also offer the first chapter completely free so you can get a taster before diving in.
After purchasing a chapter you can read it on any of your devices. Please note that the Google Play app was recently rejigged to comply with the Play Store’s terms and conditions, so you can expect that to be avaliable in the coming weeks! The IoS version is up and ready to go.
There’s also something for everyone available, below is just a small excerpt of all the various yaoi sub-genres you can enjoy.
Another massive plus is that all the translations are done by a professional. So there’s no grammar or spelling mistakes or awkward phrasings. I’ve also found that the translations are really good at getting the nuances of the language and translating them well. Even in the example page below, the use of ‘alrighty’ conveys a very different tone to words like ‘fine’ or ‘okay’. It’s those nuances that really change the way one reads and connects to a manga series.
My only reservation with the site is the app. I found to download the manga I had bought to the app, I needed to log in to the site, hit a button and then go back to my app and wait for quite a while for it to download. It did seem a little bit redundant to access the site on my iPad and then switch over to the app. I also had issues when I would flick to the next page, it would send to me to a previous one and I would get a bit lost. I would really love to see the app be upgraded a bit more so that individuals can purchase manga direct from it using Apple or Google Play funds, and access their new manga instantaneously.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed by Renta. It actually feels really good to be reading manga that you enjoy and know that the creator is receiving your support. The site is also ridiculously cheap, so there’s almost no excuse not to use it. If you’re not already sold on this great site check out below. Renta has prepared a special gift for readers of Two Happy Cats!
A Very Special Gift!
When I was working on this article I reached out to Renta, and they kindly offered coupons for readers of my site. The coupon is for 100 points. To claim the coupon sign up for an account on Renta, and then come back here and use this link with the code RRMG2DTU to claim it! The code is valid for one per person, for the first 150 people, so get in quick!
It has been a very long time since I have participated in the OWLS blog tour. Some months I struggle to find something to talk about or am just completely overwhelmed by other blogging/personal happenings. But this month, as soon as I read the prompt, it was like a light bulb went off. Our theme for August is ‘Journey’, and when I read that I immediately thought of my own emotional journey from last November when my grandfather died from cancer. Often people joke about the cliche ‘5 stages of grief’ but when you actually go through it, you realise how true it is, but that’s not the only way to think about death and loss. Recently, when I picked up a manga called ‘Natsuyuki Rendezvous’ it brought back all the feeling I had 6 months ago and changed the way I viewed my grandfather’s passing.
We have all heard this saying in some shape or form: “Life is a journey.” We travel down a path in hope that we reach a goal or destination, but the travel in getting there isn’t always easy. Along the way, we encounter some personal struggles. It is in those moments where we must overcome an adversity to complete our journey or take a different route or path instead. In this month’s OWLS post, we will be discussing the personal journeys of pop culture creators, icons, and characters. We will explore the journeys that these characters went through, discuss the process and experiences they had on their journeys, what they discover about themselves, or share our own personal journeys.
Ryosuke Hazuki fell in love with flower shop owner Rokka Shimao at first sight. It seems like a gift from the heavens when the store puts up a sign hiring part-time workers. After working for over 6 months, Ryosuke’s feeling continue to grow for his boss. One day he meets her at her house (around the back of the shop) and sees a strange man. Initially annoyed that his love is unrequited he runs away, only later finding out who he saw was a ghost! That ghost was Atsuhi Shimao, Rokka’s husband who died 3 years earlier from an illness. As Hazuki and Rokka’s relationship develops, the series delves into the complicated emotions of moving on, grief and acceptance. Early on in the story, Atsuhi says a line,” I wonder who goes through more pain, the one who left or the one left behind?” , this really stuck with me and it’s how I’d like to examine each of the characters in the series within their individual journeys.
The One that Left
Even though Atsuhi died, he continues to stay by Rokka’s side as a ghost, watching over her. To him, it seems him personal journey is halted by his death, he is caught in limbo. His mind is clouded with anger at not living a full life with his wife. He knows he’s caught in a cycle of remunerating over the past, and what could have been. But he can’t do anything about it, his view of journey is narrow-minded. He can’t see how his memory takes on another journey. The people who were close to him, like Rokka, carry him through their lives, and memories of him influence the way they act and live.
The One Left Behind
Rokka’s journey is divided into very clear sections, there’s the life before Atsuhi’s death and the life after. On one section we see her opening up and falling in love and in the other, her learning to deal with her husband’s death. How unfair it was, and just like Atsuhi, thinks of what could have been. When my grandfather died I was never angry, I was just sad, the loss of someone who you always thought would be there is quite sickening. I felt like a part of me had disappeared, and it was strange knowing that I could never talk to him or laugh with him again. Just like Rokka, I had to learn how to pick pick up the pieces of her life and learn to live again. Rokka’s journey is one of self-love, to open oneself up to the opportunities that life throws at us, and to adapt to carrying the memory of a loved one with us when they can no longer be physically present.
A New Journey
As the old adage goes ‘when one door closes, another one opens’, life and death forms a continuous journey that we undertake. Those that end their physical journey become part of other people’s life journeys through memories. And the living must remember those they loved while going through the ups and downs of life. Reading ‘Natsuyuki Rendezvous’ helped bring me to terms with my grandfather’s death, and gave me the motivation to continue my journey.
TheFor any otaku reading manga can be a chance to escape when when you feel a little down, or had a bad day. And as fun as it is to go on grand adventures with the ‘One Piece’ crew or follow Guts on his quest for revenge in ‘Berserk’, sometimes you just want something simple that can put a smile on your face. Over the last few months I’ve really kickstarted my manga reading habit and have come across quite the number of such relaxing series. I thought that it’d be fun to share them, so they can bring a little bit of joy to you, as they do for me.
Oji-Sama to Neko
This blog wouldn’t be called ‘Two Happy Cats’, without mentioning at least one series with a cat in it! ‘Ojisama to Neko’ by Sakurai Umi, follows an old man who adopts a rather…unique looking cat. The story is told through both the man and the cat’s perspective. While the cat has been rejected most of his life for how he looks, the man has been feeling lonely since the death of his wife, in each other they find companionship. Ultimately forming a wonderful bond. Every time I read this series I’m a mix of emotions from laughing to crying. I always have to run and give one of my cats a big hug and tell them how much I love them, not sure how much they reciprocate though!
Hime no Dameshi
You know what makes everyone happy? Good food. This manga by Nikaido Kou follows the everyday life of a rather gluttonous office worker. It’s really enjoyable seeing this character be so happy over something as simple as 2 minute ramen. Reading the series always puts a smile on my face. There’s something so relatable about watching a grown who just wants to eat junk food all day and can’t understand trendy youth culture. Maybe a bit too relatable…
Dad, The Beard Gorilla and I
Another slice of life series, ‘Dad, the beard gorilla and I’ starts of one a sombre note. Michiru is five years old, her uncle has moved in with her and her father following her mother’s death in a car accident. Michiru is not particularly fond of her uncle, and the series has short funny strips of Michiru teasing her uncle, and the silly adventures Michiru has with her pre-school friends. We also get a look into the uncle (beard gorilla) trying to woo a teacher who happens to be scared of gorillas – to the point the uncle had to wear a mask around her! It’s just a really silly series, that makes you appreciate the people you have around you.
I’m sure a few of you are groaning inwardly about this being on the list. But for those of you ‘Densha Otoko’ is a story that has been done a thousand and one times. It’s based on a true story that was shared on a Japanese message board (kinda like Reddit), a young man saved a woman from a drunk guy on the train. The guy pretty much fell in love at first sight and with the help of all the people on the messenger board managed to give himself a makeover and develop the confidence to ask her out. The version that I read was called ‘Densha Otoko: Net Hatsu, Kakueki Teisha no Love Story’, story by Nakano Hitori and art by Hara Hidenori. What I enjoyed about this version was it really focused on the reactions of the other participants on the messenger board. In a way, with so many awful news stories going on, it reminded me how nice and genuine people can be to strangers.
Another series based on true stories posted on social media, T-sensei is about the everyday life of a pre-school teacher in Tokyo. Each page features a simple but adorable interaction that T-sensei had with one of his students. It just reminds me of how wonderful kids can be, they always think the best of the people around them and just want to make others happy. The art by Yukue Takana suits the stories perfectly, and I always have a smile on my face flicking through each page.
Thank you for checking out this post, I hope you enjoyed reading. What manga puts a smile on your face? Let me know in the comments!
As a female watching anime and reading manga, the designs of female characters can be quite tedious. Even in action-fighting manga, female characters are built the same – hourglass figure with gigantic boobs, with females from One Piece being the most obvious example. That’s not to say such women don’t exist in the world, and I’m not trying to start a crusade against this body type. What I am trying to say is that sometimes it’s really awesome (and empowering) to see different body types represented in media. That brings us to a series I’ve been a long-time fan of – Saotome-Senshu, Hitakakusa (also known as ‘Fighter Saotome’) by Mizuguchi Naoki. The series follows high school champion boxer, Saotome Yae. Yae has a crush on another member of her boxing club, Tsukishima Satoru, who makes up for his lack of stature and brawn through in-depth knowledge of boxing.
As my introduction for the series focused on body representation, let’s start with that. Even within athletic bodies, there’s a pretty big variety of body shapes and sizes, and this manga does a really great way of showing that. We have Yae whose body is quite muscular and a little square shaped, but there’s also character who have bodies which are a bit more curvaceous, or even characters who are very thin. None of the bodies are shown to be better than others. In fact all the bodies are shown to be beautiful, one to be proud of. There’s no off hand ‘fat’ jokes or derogatory comments. Especially amongst the girl athletes, they all really support one another.
The manga also spends some time confronting ideas of masculinity and femininity. For Yae, as a boxer and with her short hair, she’s often compared to a boy and is expected to act very masculine. But her actual personality is a mixture, and in fact is shown to be quite troubled from people place assumptions on her. I find in a lot of series that when a girl is criticised for being masculine, it’s often flipped off as a joke and not discussed. With Yae, you could see the effects that such comments had on her, at one point a girl tells Yae that her hand is big like a boy’s. Yae then becomes concerned about holding hands with Satoru and stressed about her own body. Through the support of Satoru and her boxing friends she finds the strength to be herself and show her more feminine sides. Growing up, I too was criticised for being masculine, for simply having a pixie cut, my actual personality is very feminine – I love sewing, having soft toys all around my room and my favourite colours are pastel. So seeing Yae slowly becoming more confident in herself was very inspiring to read.
Probably my favourite part of this manga is how wholesome the relationship between Yae and Satoru is. Even though Satoru is smaller and weaker than Yae, he’s not bitter about it or frustrated at his own situation (nor should he be!). Instead he just wants to see Yae achieve her very best, he studies as much as he can about nutrition and coaching so he can support his girlfriend. Yae and Satoru lift each other up and inspired one another to do better. I also love how Yae is shown to be really in love with Satoru and acts on her love. In some manga series, the female characters are just so shy and blushing – they just don’t do anything. But Yae will ask Satoru to hold her hand, or even check him out when he’s in his boxing outfit!
As you can tell I absolutely adore this series! Yae is now one of my favourite female manga characters, and I can’t wait to see how her relationship with Satoru continues to develop. If anything, the series teaches readers about strength and perseverance, and the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people. I highly recommend any manga readers give this series a shot. An 8.5/10 from me!
We all have those series we never thought we’d like. They could be from a genre we’re not a big fan of, the art-style isn’t too our liking or the story sounds mediocre. But sometimes we decide to give it a chance, and may be pleasantly surprised. This post features five manga which I was so certain I wouldn’t like, but I ended up kinda loving.
Okusan – Ooi Masakazu
As soon as I saw this series my first thought was ‘god, not another boob monster’, but it ended up being a boob goddess! The series is a gag manga that follows a young wife’s daily life. It’s filled with short and sweet stories, mostly staring her boobs, as she hangs out with neighbours, gets into trouble and flirts with her husband. It’s definitely not going to win any awards, but it’s a cute story that never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Funouhan – Miyatsuki Arata
On the other end of the spectrum is Funouhan. I found this series while I was searching for horror manga, and the first chapter actually really put me off it. I waited a few months and saw it again with some more chapters and figured I’d give it another shot. Sure enough, I began to enjoy it. Funouhan doesn’t seem to really have much of a plot, it essentially follows this guy ‘Funouhan’ as people request him to murder other people. Except Funouhan never gets his hands dirty, he uses hypnosis to murder people. The series is quite dark, and definitely not for everyone, but perfect for when I’m in the mood for something screwed up!
Lovely Complex – Aya Nakahara
Lovely Complex (aka Love.Com) is actually quite a popular shoujo manga. Throughout high school people constantly recommended this series to me, and it was only a few years ago I actually read it. The series follows two high school students – a very short boy and a very tall girl – and their budding romance. It touches on a lot of issues like body image and school pressures. But it does have a lot of the cliche tropes of shoujos like love triangles and silly misunderstandings. So why was I surprised i liked it? I actually really don’t like Shoujo manga – at all. Lovely Complex was the first shoujo I actually enjoyed (yes that includes Ouran High School – sorry to disappoint).
Geletaria Supernova – Kitahala Lyee
So my first impressions of this series was definitely not as strong as the others on this list. I came across Geletaria Supernova when I was searching for a new BL series to read, I saw the cover and kind fo shrugged – looked pretty standard, maybe even a below average series – but gosh did I fall. The series follows a university student who has a friends with benefits relationship with a handsome stranger. Before they head off for sexy time, they eat at the same ice cream shop. However, the student slowly becomes more and more interested in the handsome stranger. There was something so innocent yet fragile about this series – like everything could go wrong in a split second. It was a really fun series to read, and I do read it time and time again.
Kannou Sensei – Yoshida Motoi
In all my years of reading manga, actually consuming any kind of media, I have never really liked age-gaps in romances. I don’t know why, it just…irks me? So when I saw Kannou Sensei, a romance between a 20 year old woman and a middle-aged man, I was sure I’d dislike it. But it actually really surprised me. It sounds odd but reading this series reminded me of those old Audrey Hepburn movies – a sassy but kind of innocent young woman trying to understand the affections of an (and often awkward) older man. It definitely helps that the art is gorgeous in this series!
Thank you for reading! Do you have any series you accidentally fell in love with :)?
If you’d like to buy me a coffee, it’d be much appreciated it, a lot of time and energy is spent on writing posts and walkthroughs. By donating to Two Happy Cats, you’ll help the process!
‘It would be great if you didn’t exist’ is a rather unique girls love webtoon by Carbonara. Guk-hwa is a little upset to find her long-time, useless boyfriend has been cheating on her. She confronts the other woman and discovers it’s a drop-dead gorgeous woman named Jang-Mi. Despite the unconventional start to their relationship, the two women can’t get the other out of their mind. It seems fate is thinking along the same lines, bringing them together time and time again. Eventually the women begin to date and find true love with each other. The series currently has 71 chapters released and is still ongoing.
One of the main selling points of this series is the writing. The series manages to perfectly balance humour with soft and tender moments. For example in one moment Guk-hwa and Jang-Mi could be arguing with one another, and in the next holding hands promising to never leave the other. However, that is not to say that the story is always lovey-dovey. Over the last 70 chapters the author has explored some dark themes such as abuse, stalking and family breakdown, and is beginning to branch into bullying. All these topics are handled very sensitively. I also really enjoyed the designs of the characters, everyone is quite unique with obvious fashion styles and character quirks. By the end of a few chapters you feel like you know each character, like you’re old friends.
While the series is fantastic there are some slight flaws. First up is that the story can jump around a bit. Flashback episodes are not handled very well, and at times you’re unsure if it’s a flashback, someone thinking/ reflecting or something happening to them in real time. At times these ‘flashbacks’ lead into new character arcs, which end up being a confusing & frustrating mess. On top of this, as mentioned before, the series does deal with some complex issues. And while it does handle them sensitively, at times it fails to encapsulate the entirety of the issue. The problems often seem to be a blanket issue, or just handed in a stereotypical manner. I would have liked a bit more in-depth analysis into the problems, and how they affect the characters.
Overall, It would be great if you didn’t exist is a really fun and sweet girls love webtoon. It’s the second Girls Love series I’ve read, after my collaboration with Remy. The series is perfect for beginners who are interested in the genre as well as GL veterans. Despite some story flow flaws, the series has some really wholesome characters, and features a truly romantic relationship. I give this series a 7.5/10
If you’d like to buy me a coffee, it’d be much appreciated it, a lot of time and energy is spent on writing posts and walkthroughs. By donating to Two Happy Cats, you’ll help the process!
About a month ago Remy Fool was asking if anyone would be keen for a collaboration. I immediately jumped at the chance. Remy started blogging around the same time I did, and we’ve been mutuals for a long time. I’ve always been a big fan of his blog, he’s posts are always incredibly well-written and interesting. Remy’s blog ‘The Lily Garden’ focuses on yuri or girls love manga, anime and visual novels. I’ve always been interested in finding some yuri to read, but had no idea to start. So, this collaboration was the perfect opportunity! So Remy gave me a recommendation for my first Yuri manga, and I gave Remy a recommendation for his first Yaoi (Boys Love) manga. You can check out his awesome post here!
How I imagine Remy relaxing in his garden
Remy recommended me ‘Kase-San’. Kase-San is an ongoing series by Hiromi Takashima that follows two high school girls as their relationship blooms. Yui Yamada is a sweet but shy girl who spends her mornings looking after the school’s garden. Besides enjoying the company of plants, being at the garden gives her the perfect view of the school’s track field where superstar Tomoka Kase practices.
There was a beautiful realism in the way Kase and Yamada’s relationship was built. We can see their excitement at becoming friends slowly become tentativeness as they try to gauge the other’s feelings towards them. Particularly with Yamada, who has heard rumours that Kase has dated girls in the past. She begins to doubt herself, comparing her body and skills to the other girls in the track club. But what is truly great about their relationship is that they both see the other as like the sun – brilliant. Yamada is in awe of Kase’s running abilities where Kase is enamoured with Yamada’s dedication and kindness to the plants around her. Seeing the two of them love one another so deeply was so wholesome!
While the manga is about the girl’s relationship, it doesn’t gleam over the anxieties of high school life. Yamada feels pressured by her parents to go to a specific university locally, but Kase is applying for a university in Tokyo. Yamada begins to consider what her hopes and dreams are, where Kase fits into it and ultimately what path she should take. With Kase, Yamada gains the strength to overcome her parent’s pressure and find her true path. The manga then shows us the stress of exams and waiting for the those dreaded results. But through the ups and downs, we can see that Yamada and Lase have each other’s backs. Not only that, but by being together they bring out the best in one another.
It was really interesting comparing this manga to Boys Love series I have read. One point of particular note was how the characters viewed their relationship. In many Boys Love series the main characters typically feel their relationship has no hope because they’re both men, there is no future for them – this ‘plot point’ can continue for entire series. It’s a frustrating trope that frames all LGBTIQ relationships as almost hopeless endeavours, that the characters almost ‘give up’ something by being in one. Which is definitely not the case! In Kase-San the idea is that ‘so what we’re both girls, we love each other’, as mentioned above, the characters actively plan their future together and barely mention any of the hurdles they may face in the future. The series celebrates their relationship as two people who can overcome anything that comes their way.
‘Perfect World’ is a Josei manga by Aruga Rie. The series has been around for a few years, with 5 volumes released, but I only discovered it recently. Unfortunately the series is not licensed in English so I only discovered it from the good will of online translators, who are still hard at work translating it! So far 1 volume has been translated, but I’m absolutely taken with this series. I read through it once, and then stayed up till 2am re-reading it! The series follows Kawana Tsugumi who is reunited with her first love, Ayukawa, when they’re both working adults. However she’s shocked to find out that Ayukawa is now in a wheelchair. The series follows the complexities around their relationship, with the reader learning more about life with a disability.
When Tsugumi learns of Ayukawa’s situation she is shocked, but it in no way changes her perception of him. Her love for Ayukawa is rekindled and she begins to spend more time with him. Through this she is able to see the world from Ayukawa’s perspective, changing the way that she sees the people around her, and society in general. One particularly poignant scene is when they go to see a film. Ayukawa’s wheelchair causes very slight inconvenience to the people around him – they literally just have to take a step to make way for him. Ayukawa continues on his way, focused on Tsugumi, but Tsugumi is taken aback at the public’s reaction. They stare at Ayukawa and mutter under their breaths, displeased at his very existence.
Another aspect of Ayukawa’s life that the manga points out is accessibility for people with disabilities. In one scene, Ayukawa (who is an architect) fights with his client after his client refuses to include a ramp in his shop design, quoting that it is an unnecessary expense and the general public will not use it. This was a particularly interesting point for me, as in Australia, I feel that there are a lot of facilities to help make life easier for people with disabilities. For example, pretty much every single train station has a lift, cinemas in Australia provide captioned services for people with hearing impairments and all shopping centres (big or small) as well as most bigger eateries have specialised disabled toilets that have extra room and facilities. In my High School, which was a government funded school, a student was enrolling that used a wheelchair, my school quickly organised to have a lift installed and ramps built around the school so that the student would not have any issue. Of course, I’m not saying Australia is perfect, but from reading this manga it really changed my perspective. I realised that I shouldn’t take what is in Australia for granted or that it is the norm. Other people around the world may have access to the structures that are available in my society.
Ayukawa was asked to talk to a client’s son who recently lost use of his legs.
Ultimately the manga tells us the reader that having a disability is not the end of the world. It is a long and difficult road to adapt to life, but it is one worth taking. My father was born blind in one eye, and in response has changed many things in his life. He had to give up his dream of being in the army, and he has many issues when it comes to sight – depth perception, reaction times, even just having a smaller field of vision! But he does what he can to give himself the life that he has always wanted. Just as Ayukawa, who struggled for 6 years after his accident, works each day to ensure that his disability does not mean he has to give up on his dream.
‘Perfect World’ by Aruga Rie gives us insight into life as a disabled person, showing us both the hardships and triumphs of the everyday. On top of this, Rie weaves a mature and heartwarming love story between the two main characters. As the reader, we see a relationship unfold before us, one of support and understanding as the character’s grow together and learn about one another. This series is truly a delight to read and I truly recommend it everyone. I can’t wait till more chapters get translated (or *fingers crossed* it gets licensed in Australia!). I give this series a 10/10