For a little change of pace, here is a josei manga for you. This means it is a series aimed at a slightly older audience than the average shoujo manga. It also means that the characters are a little bit older as well. It’s nice, now and then, to get away from all these high school girl heroines 🙂 This is a one-shot volume that ran in Cookie magazine, the same magazine that the popular josei series Nana runs in. The characters here are out of high school, and have entered the working world. I picked up this volume because I liked the light and airy look of the cover. The art inside the book is interesting. It is a little bit messy, but it is in a stylish sort of way. The characters all have a quirky kind of look to them. Sometimes their facial expressions can get very exaggerated, or even cartoonish. Occasionally there is a bit of a 70’s shoujo manga influence (mostly in the use of blank eyes for shock). I enjoyed this volume, and would kind to like to see more. The main story takes up the most of book. There is an unrelated short story at the end.
Nao is a girl from a country town who has spent the last 4 years away at college. Now she is back home and starting an office job, and things feel very weird. Everything is different, yet still the same in her quiet hometown. Nao herself has changed a lot from the awkward schoolgirl in glasses she used to be. In the past, she spent most of her time as part of a foursome of close friends. The group was made up of Yuzuru, a friendly, outgoing boy. Then there was Suzu, a pretty girl, Nao was the most bookish of the group, planning to go away to college. Finally there was Ikuo, Yuzuru’s much younger brother. The three friends pretty much raised Ikuo.
Shortly after returning home, Nao encounters Yuzuru as he is driving home from work. Their reunion is an awkward one. Yuzuru was Nao’s first love. Back in school, she always thought they would go away to college together. Things didn’t quite work out that way. Yuzuru’s father collapsed, and Yuzuru was forced to take over his family’s business, so Nao was the only one who left. Seeing Yuzuru again brings back Nao’s memories, and makes her ache inside. She still loves him. Yuzuru seems oblivious to this, and is impressed by the changes in Nao, casually saying that she has become prettier. Even worse, he asks her if she ever received the invitation to his upcoming wedding that they sent to her. Wedding? Oh no, Yuzuru is engaged to Suzu!
Back in school, Suzu had a boyfriend. But that didn’t stop her from blatantly kissing Yuzuru right in front of Nao on their high school graduation day. Nao lost Yuzuru, and was only happy to get away to college.
Now, 4 years later, Yuzuru and Suzu are engaged?! Wait, maybe they aren’t! Suzu suddenly shows up on Nao’s doorstep, saying Nao can throw away the invitation, because the wedding is off! What is going on here!? Suzu is the same as ever. She is very pretty, a bit flighty, and very selfish. She decides to camp out at Nao’s apartment without asking permission. Ikuo chases after her, and ends up bunking in Nao’s place too!
The one who has changed the most in Nao’s absence is Ikuo. Still a middle school student when she went away, he is now 18 and is a giant. He towers over Nao, and she can’t quite believe her eyes. He looks pretty funny now, with his mop of dark hair and lazy-cool attitude. Is this really the little kid she helped raise? He is a smartass towards Nao, and acts like a warden/brother towards Suzu.
This series follows Nao as she deals with the conflicting emotions brought about by reuniting with her first love. She becomes entangled in Yuzuru and Suzu’s pre-marital woes. Does Yuzuru really love Suzu? Things get confusing when she learns that it is a shotgun wedding. Is Suzu trying to trap Yuzuru? Nao does have sort of an ally in Ikuo, but their relationship has also become weird. Will Nao fight for Yuzuru, or let him go?