Title: Ume ni Uguisu
Author: HIGURASHI Kinoko
Kodansha Comics, 2009
I picked up this volume for the most random reason that no one will care about but me 🙂 The cover art is cute and colorful, and the girl’s expression is kind of funny. But it was actually that funny-looking shirt she has on that caught my eye. It reminds me of this hideous swimsuit I had to wear when I was on the swim team in high school. See the wavy black stripes? See the rainbow color behind it? Imagine that as a racing swimsuit. Yeah, it was pretty awful. But I had no choice! Anyway, that obviously won’t be the reason anyone else will pick up this book. Instead, it will be (or should be) for the fun story inside! This is a one-shot volume with the main story featuring the couple on the cover lasting for 3 chapters, filling the majority of the book. There is a short, unrelated one-shot story at the end. I really enjoyed this author’s art style. It’s clean and detailed, without being scratchy or having any bizarre body proportions or other artistic quirks. Sometimes authors draw bad profiles, or can’t draw hands or something, but everything looks good here. The story is sweet, and not smutty 🙂
The leading lady here is a girl called Ume-chan. That isn’t her first name, it’s actually a nickname based on her last name, Umehara. I won’t say what her first name is, because it’s kind of funny, and it’s sort of a surprise in the scene where it’s first revealed. Anyway, Ume-chan is suffering from an unrequited crush on a boy in her class. His name is ISEZAKI-kun. He sits directly in front of her, and she spends a lot of her time observing him and writing down her thoughts in a little notebook devoted entirely to him. Ume is fairly comfortable with her situation of loving him from afar (well, from one seat behind). After all, there is no hope for her. Isezaki-kun has a girlfriend who is pretty and nice, and practically perfect. He seems to really like her. So Ume spends her time writing about him instead.
Naturally, this situation can’t last for long, and sure enough, things change when Isezaki forgets his notebook one day, and asks Ume if he can borrow her notes. Ume, totally dazzled that Isezaki actually SPOKE TO HER, hands him her class notes… only to realize she gave him the wrong notebook! Before she can grab the notebook back, Isezaki-kun is reading the notebook about himself. He quickly realizes what it is, and is understandably surprised. Absolutely mortified, Ume grabs the notebook back and runs from the class. Oh no, now everyone will know, now Isezaki knows, oh, what an embarrassing mess!
Surprisingly, Isezaki is actually a nice guy, and he handles learning about Ume’s crush rather well. He isn’t mean or anything. He takes it all with good humor, and even decides to be friends with Ume! But this is sort of pleasure and Pain for Ume. On one hand, she gets to actually speak to him sometimes. On the other, it sucks being close to a guy who you really like, knowing he has a girlfriend. But wait, what’s this? Isezaki has broken up with his girlfriend? can it be true? Or did she break up with him? Does he still love her? Could this be Ume-chan’s big chance? Isezaki knows she likes him, can she convince him to like her back?