Back to something short and new again, after recently talking about two very long series. This one is a collected volume of one-shot stories, however the main story does take up most of the book. As you can see, this cover is also afflicted with the ever-present translucent color-haze I am oh SO fond of, lol. But aside from that little issue, I really liked the cover art. I wasn’t quite sure if I should add this book, considering the characters in it kind of annoyed me most of the time, but they redeemed themselves by the end, so I decided to talk about this anyway. ^_^ The artwork in this book is very nice. Something I liked about it is that the body types in it lean a bit closer to realistic that many series usually do. Yeah, of course everyone is slim and beautiful (bah) but they aren’t awkward and anorexic-looking. (Seriously, the only time you ever see anyone in shoujo manga who is overweight is if they are a random sidekick, or it’s a diet story. Bleh. ANYWAY, ahem.) This is a non-smutty set of 2 school-life romances.
The main story in this book takes place at one of those many prestigious private high schools that must be all over the place in Japan. It is a beautiful school, and most of the students who go there seem to be reasonably wealthy. Our heroine, Sakura, is very excited about attending this school because it is the high school her mother graduated from, and it is where her mother met her father. In fact, her parents were brought together by a tradition surrounding one of the large sakura trees on campus.
When Sakura was a small child, her mother would always love to tell her that she would find her soulmate under that sakura tree. There is a legend that says you will find them if you stand under the tree and say an incantation in your heart three times. Sakura’s mother is gone now, having passed away a few years earlier, but Sakura never forgot her mother’s words, and she is thrilled to be attending the very same school that her mother loved so much.
On the first day of classes, Sakura manages to find the tree that her mother talked about. With an honest heart, she stands under the tree and wishes to meet the person who she is meant to be with. As she stands there, eyes closed, hands clasped, sakura petals drifting on the breeze, a boy actually arrives at the same spot under the tree. He sees her standing there, and he stares at her, as if transfixed. Sakura quickly feels his eyes on her, and when she looks up, she can only stare back at him. He is very handsome! Without saying a word, he approaches her and brushes a stray petal out of her hair. Before Sakura can react, the mysterious boy turns and walks away. Who was that??
Sakura is not left to ponder this question for very long. Walking the hallways of her school, Sakura is thinking more about how this was her mother’s school, when she notices that her female classmates are all excited for some reason. Looking out the window, Sakura sees a boy getting out of a fancy car. All the girls around her squeal with delight. It’s Takayuki-sama! Takayuki is extremely rich and handsome, and all the girls in Sakura’s school appear to be in his fanclub, they fawn and squeal over him so much. You’d think he was a movie star. Of course, you have probably guessed it — Takayuki is the same guy Sakura met under the tree!
Ah, but here in the real world, in front of all their classmates, Takayuki is like a different person. When Sakura approaches him and asks him if he remembers her, and tries to tell him about the legend of that tree, he coldly refuses to listen to her, acting like he has never seen her before! His attitude is very mean. He says such rude things, implying that Sakura is only trying to get him to help her own status! How awful! This makes Sakura so angry, that she slaps him! Everyone in the school, pretty much, is shocked by this incident!
And you know what happens in shoujo manga when a girl dares to make herself stand out and defy the jerks who rule the school, don’t you? Yes, the hazing begins. Sakura is treated to all the traditional forms of peer abuse that high school kids can dish out. It’s awful, and Sakura is miserable. Meanwhile, that creek Takayuki does nothing to stop it. Why is he suddenly so cruel? Is this the same guy Sakura met under the tree? Why won’t he remember? Is that legend true, or is it really a curse? Poor Sakura is forced to defend herself against various horrible situations and evil classmates. Will she ever find the one person who she is really meant to be with?
Sakura and Takayuki’s story takes up 3/4 of this book. The remaining pages contain a sweet one shot story about a girl named Minato-chan. She is an artist, and spends her afternoons in her high school’s art studio, working on her drawings and paintings. While her classmates are busy drooling over the handsome ‘prince’ of their school, Ryuuta, and envying his beautiful girlfriend, Minato is more interested in her artwork. But one day she gets a chance to drool over Ryuuta too, when she funds him asleep on the couch in the art room one afternoon after classes. What is he doing there? His face, relaxed in sleep, suddenly looks very handsome to Minato, and she can’t help but sketch some pictures of him when he is unable to notice. When Ryuuta wakes up, he is surprised to discover he is not alone. A girl is sitting at an easel, painting a still-life with a very serious expression. Ryuuta is amazed at how absorbed in her work the girl is.
When Minato notices Ryuuta, she is embarrassed, but he is friendly. They end up striking up a friendship, and end up often hanging out together in the art rom. Basically, he sleeps, while she works on her art. It’s a nice place for him to hide out. As time passes though, Minato starts to fall for Ryuuta, and she compiles a large collection of drawings of his sleeping face in her sketchbook. But there is no hope for Minato. After all, Ryuuta is popular, and he already has a girlfriend….
Both stories in this book are interesting reads. In the first story, Takayuki’s cold, callous, behavior seriously irked me. I generally don’t like it anymore when shoujo manga heroes are mean like that. However, he did earn some points back later on when he failed to fall for a trick that is often used to tear apart relationships. So good job there, lol. The second story is much more cute, and Ryuuta is a nice contrast to the serious Takayuki.