I was ridiculously happy when I saw this book at the bookstore! I love Shimaki Ako, her stories are so cute and fun! And her art just keeps getting better and better with every volume. Seriously, her guys are totally hot now! ^_^ The art style is clean and crisp, and sometimes has an almost cartoony feel about it in the way some of the expressions are exaggerated, but it is so adorable! This is a wonderful collection of 4 short stories. I loved them all. I will say that the last story was really bizarre, and made me wonder where mangaka get their ideas sometimes! These stories were published in Cheese! magazine, but are not smutty.
The first story is the one pictured on the annoyingly color-hazed cover. (Really now, one of these days I am going to post a general rant about how I am getting sick and tired of Flower Comics and their habit of placing random translucent color hazes over the cover art. I want to see the original art! Don’t obscure it with that brown haze! Argh! Er, anyway…) The story is about a plain girl named Chise. She is friendly and helpful, but for all of her life she has been overlooked in favor of her extremely beautiful best friend Mika. From kindergarten through high school, the only time a guy would pay attention to Chise was if they were using her to try and gain favor or information regarding Mika. Chise isn’t too bitter over this though. Granted, her self-esteem is not the highest after all of this, but she tends to take things in a positive way, and sees her plain self as a foil for Mika’s beauty. Her purpose is to make Mika stand out more.
But when a really handsome guy from a neighboring class, Horikawa-kun, takes notice of Chie, things feel different. Well, ok, yes, he does seem to be interested in Mika too, but for once, a guy is actually nice to her too, and seems to be concerned for her. After all these years, Chie finds herself not wanting to lose a guy to Mika…
Story 2 is about a girl named Mizuho who is in love with her sempai, Shugo. Mizuho has loved him forever, and thanks to a little sneaking around, she has set up a meeting with him. As he waits outside at night for the person he thinks he is expecting, Mizuho ambushes him! Under the cover of darkness, she kisses him! Mizuho treasures her kiss with sempai and hopes he won’t figure out it was she who kissed him. You see, there is a slight obstacle to her pursuit of Shugo — he is her beloved older sister’s boyfriend!
As time passes, Mizuho’s sister always stands (one way or another) between Mizuho and Shugo. Mizuho knows that Shugo only sees her as a little sister, but what else can she do?
Story 3 introduces us to Aya-chan. She is a girl crawling through some shrubbery at night and in the rain. Why is she doing this? To escape an arranged marriage! Even though she is only in high school, her parents have arranged for her to attend an omiai which is basically a meeting/introduction for a matchmaking meeting. There is no way Aya is going to marry some stranger when she hasn’t even finished high school yet! She has to get away! However, Aya doesn’t get very far before she encounters the very guy she wanted to avoid — her potential fiance, Keisuke. Keisuke seems to understand Aya’s feelings, and indeed, he even helps her escape and gives her a place to hide out. Aya thinks Keisuke may not be as bad as she had thought. He is rather handsome and kind…
Finally, we have a totally random short story that had me thinking ‘what the–‘ after reading it. It is such a random story! Manami is always teased by her classmates for being ugly. Only Satoru-kun defends her. In fact, he declares he loves her! But this world is so cruel… they will have to find another world to live in! Satoru has heard rumors of a pond that will take you to another world. Can Satoru and Manami take the jump there together? What sort of place is waiting for them?