Reviewed by: Eeeper
Released by: Seven Seas Entertainment
Publishing Country: USA
Age Rating: 13+
Page Count: 164
Shizuku is a quiet, reserved girl in high school who decides to destroy the manuscript of a story she's been working on. But the story is found by super popular classmate Kaori and read by her. When Shizuku asks for it back so she can stop writing for good, Kaori suggests that they pretend to date each other for material for Shizuku's next book!
I picked up this title from one of my local manga bookshops on pure impulse. The cover looked cute and the premise was interesting if a little short on detail. But as I read it, it started to set out its pitch.
Shizuku is a typical quiet girl in class. She never talks to anyone, never hangs out with friends, and would never be out at night having fun. At first, I didn't understand the reason for her being SO reserved but the book opens up, bit by bit, to explain. She did something to someone long ago in school that she feels is unforgivable and so wants to be left alone. But then Kaori comes into her life and opens the curtains in her day up to let in some sunshine. I think I know some of Kaori's backstory already but the author doesn't give away much in this first volume (reading the 4-koma piece at the end of the volume will give you a clue or two). I like how Shizuku doesn't find the idea of dating Kaori the problem but rather, why she would want to date her, even if it is just pretending. But Kaori just smiles and gives a quick missive. The world is very breezy, full of wide-open moments where the characters are dwarfed by buildings and rooms. But then Yuama is more interested in the headspace of their two leads than the backgrounds. Shizuku is cute whenever Kaori gets her to open up and Kaori's own design is as light and effervescent as her character. Yuama's art is both fluffy and arresting. There are moments of joviality, the girls might be teasing each other and the style changes to a comedy manga, and then there are moments of deep clarity where Yuama wants you to focus on exactly what they want to. The stillness is impressive and yet, returning the clean lines of the story never feels jarring or abrupt. The intention is to make me pay attention to what's going on. It works here and I'm so happy that a manga I randomly picked off the shelf has rewarded me with such a flowing tapestry.
We get these moments of transition as Shizuku has intense internal monologues as she struggles to understand why Kaori likes to be with her. I like that Shizuku struggles with mental health issues instead of it being swept away as "she's just down". Whatever happened to her in the past, it's so bad in her mind that she can't even confide in her family. We don't get to understand what's going on in Kaori's head but this is Shizuku's story as she recounts the tale of their time together that summer. I know there's more behind that pleasant smile than meets the eye. On the only minus, at 164 pages, it's a bit light and I really wanted to read more on this first volume. That being said, it feels very nice to be with Shizuku and Kaori. Fleeting, maybe, but I'll be interested to see if this fake love becomes real and how it ends.