Nakamura is overwhelmed by his crush on Hirose, so much that he's stunned into silence for most of his class interactions. Many of his classmates think he's either shy or standoffish. One day, Nakamura gets an opportunity to talk with Hirose, and even be cast in a play with him! As Nakamura slowly starts to open up, he and Hirose strike up a timid friendship that is often interrupted by other classmates. One observant classmate draws an amateur manga of Nakamura and Hirose being in a relationship, and Nakamura absorbs some of the confidence from his alter-ego. On a class field trip, Nakamura strikes off on his own to the aquarium and is startled to find Hirose tagging along. The two converse at length about the fish and especially the octopi, Nakamura's favorite. At the end, Nakamura confesses his wish that he and Hirose would be friends, while Hirose admits he felt they were already friends.
This is a wholesome look at a first crush and some of the social pressures, perceived or real, that come from it. There is a slight undertone of non-acceptance if Nakamura came out as gay, but it takes a backseat to the fears Nakamura has of rejection from Hirose, which is a pretty universal feeling. There are a lot of situations that will resonate with readers who have ever had a crush, regardless of the gender, because of the relatable awkwardness that comes from not knowing how to act and/or not give yourself away.
Even though this originally came out in 2014, the art takes a lot of influence from classic manga of the 80s and 90s. The clothing design is akin to Sailor Moon styles, and the character design looks like something out of Rumiko Takahashi's titles. Characters have smaller, rounded eyes than the larger style that's popular presently, and they have the cliche anime hair straight out of Ranma 1/2. This styling gives the whole title a little more of a homey feel, something comforting and familiar.
The main characters are all in high school, and some of the situations Nakamura gets into would be a bit better for teen readers who have had crushes turn into romances.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Publisher: Seven Seas
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
ISBN: 9781626928879 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Romance, LGBTQ+, School Life, Seven Seas
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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