Author: Tsurukame Mayo
Release Date: August 7, 2020
Publisher: Kaiousha (GUSH Comics)
This is one example where I didn’t find the art style to be attractive but the story and character’s lines made the manga more than worthwhile. It had stunning reviews so I picked it up and I am glad I did. It rates pretty high on my list of “good reads” of 2020. If you like younger semes this manga is for you!
The story is about an office worker Hirokuni who is quite tired from working 16 hours a day (even on weekends) for the past five years, and his childhood friend Kai who suddenly appears after 12 years of not seeing each other. Kai had been working at an eatery where he also lived, but after the owner falls ill and was taken to the hospital, his son asked Kai to stay elsewhere while his father was in the hospital. With nowhere to go, he meets Hirokuni’s mother and she gives him the key to Hirokuni’s place. On his way there he finds Hirokuni lying on the ground at the side of the road. Hirokuni and Kai first met in their younger days when they both didn’t have friends. He found Kai (who is much younger than him) sitting on the same bench everyday after school and started talking to him. Hirokuni was Kai”s first real friend and someone who he could be around without him feeling like he was being pitied due to his unfortunate upbringing. He grew up with no mother and a father who barely came home. When Hirokuni was heart broken from finding out the girl he liked had someone she liked, Kai told him that he would marry him when they grew up. And after they reunite, the two start living together and Hirokuni’s life slowly begins to have meaning and hold hope for the future.
What is very sad is that the situation Hirokuni is in at work with a power-abusing boss is not a myth. Although Hirokuni was very good at his profession, his boss pressured him into thinking that he wasn’t putting in enough effort. My cousin’s son experienced something like that and almost went crazy. Although I am not in Japan, I went through a similar situation where I ended up with PTSD and depression. So, reading this made me root for Hirokuni hoping that he would be able to live a happier life, of course with Kai.
Kai, who is gay and does not show much emotions, is such an ideal boyfriend who is caring and also makes homecooked meals. Hirokuni had not been eating well but after Kai comes he is able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner for the most part. Although Hirokuni was hesitant to let Kai stay at his place in the beginning, he becomes used to having someone around. At one point Hirokuni invites Kai to go to the summer festival with him but doesn’t make it back in time due to work. He is given the chance to leave early but stays to finish the extra work he was given by his boss. This happened when he was almost done his initial workload. Hirokuni comes home and apologies to Kai, but Kai does not react much. Hirokuni realizes that Kai is extremely used to giving up (and does not expect much from people) that he isn’t affected by broken promises. This was due to his life experiences. After Kai moved away 10 years ago, his father soon abandoned him and after finishing junior high school, he started working at the eatery where he tried to eat and run.
As the story progresses, his work team leader resigns and Hirokuni becomes the team leader. His work load increases so much that he could hardly go home. But by the launch of this project Hirokuni has made a big decision thanks to Kai’s influence. By this time Kai has already told Hirokuni that he likes him and Hirokuni asks for time to think about it.
The best part of this manga is probably the actual part Hirokuni proposes to Kai. Kai was told he could go back to the store until he found a new place to live and Hirokuni finds him about to leave his place. Kai tells him that he doesn’t care if he is living or dead because he has nothing to begin with. But he realized that his existence could influence other people’s lives. He found that if it wasn’t for him the store owner would have retired earlier to live with his son’s family and would have realized that he was ill at a earlier point. He feels that if he stays with Hirokuni he would become a negative influence on him and decides to leave despite Hirokuni telling him to stay with him. Hirokuni runs outside and says to Kai that it is already too late, that he has already been influenced by him so he has to take responsibility. And I won’t tell you what he says after that as it is the highlight of the manga.
I love happy endings, especially when the characters start off from a rough life. The obstacles they have to go through make the read to be satisfying. It is especially nice that the relationship of the two really grows throughout the story where they become inseparable. Hirokuni transforms from a non-outspoken person who does what he is told without question, to someone who can really think about themselves and make life changing decisions. Kai also finds a place where he could belong. What more can you ask for in a good story? And although it’s such a heavy sounding plot, it does not come across as a really dark story. It has its comical moments. I am truly thankful to those who wrote positive reviews to persuade me to purchase this manga.
Cover image from Amazon Japan.