Manga Reading List Update (July 2020)

There is a lot of manga that I read but don’t post about. Here’s a quick spin through what’s currently on my priority read list, omitting series that I’ve covered elsewhere on the blog (ie. Warikan, Suito~to!)

1. Gokushufudō [極主夫道] // Ono Kosuke, 2018 (Kurage Bunch)

Snapshots of the life of ex-yakuza Immortal Tatsu, who’s now making an honest living as a house husband.

One of those manga that literally everyone reads – and if you aren’t…why? Eagerly awaiting an anime adaptation….no, a live-action version with Tsuda Kenjiro will do too!

2. Kūden (Noise) no Himegimi [空電ノイズの姫君] // Toume Kei, 2016 (Birz -> Evening)

Hosaka Mao’s never stood out. Her father’s a washed-up wannabe rock ‘n’ roll star. Her hair reminds people of Pippi Longstocking. She’s nowhere close to being part of the in-crowd. One morning, Mao hears someone singing in the classroom before school and she peeks in to discover the beautiful, mysterious Hasekura Yokiko as the source of the voice…

This started life as Kūden Noise no Himegimi in Birz before switching its serialisation to Evening, changing its name and ‘restarting’ from chapter 1 though it’s really a continuation. I’ve always had a soft spot for Toume’s works thanks to Hitsuji no Uta and this one features her trademark realistically-written characters, each suffering from their own set of problems, and they all come together to chase a dream career in music despite running into countless dead ends. The two main girls are misfits: one’s a secret guitar genius with no friends & the other’s a weird delinquent into taxidermy – the one thing that ties them together is their love for rock music (Deep Purple! Rolling Stones! Led Zeppelin!). There are slight hints of romance but I’m not really looking for that in this series – it’s the nostalgia of indie bands and the livehouse scene culture that I miss from my brief time living in Japan that makes me love this one so much. Still, it’s Toume so I’m always prepared for random hiatuses and for the story to go downhill at any time…

3. Kowloon Generic Romance [九龍ジェネリックロマンス] // Mayuzuki Jun, 2019 (Young Jump)

Within the labyrinth of Kowloon walled city lives a man and a woman who appear to be no more than mere colleagues in an estate agency, but their relationship and their past lives may not be all that they seem to be…

This one is only 20+ chapters in but I’m hugely, greatly intrigued by the world-building and the mystery of who or what our main couple used to be, and where they’re headed in this ’80s dystopian version of Kowloon where a giant sphere (named Generic Terra) floats above the city. The story has been shifting between present day and flashback as more of the protagonists’ murky past becomes clearer – there is the twist that seems all together too logical when you have enough pieces of the puzzle in place, but that there are yet more missing parts that I eagerly await to be revealed.

4. WonDance [ワンダンス] // coffee, 2019 (Afternoon)

The introverted Kotani Kaboku, who has a stutter, finds solace in the dance club with Wanda Hikari, a girl he can’t help but be attracted towards. A tale of youthful passion, friendship and

With Ballroom e Yokoso intermittently on hiatus, WonDance has come in and filled the shonen dance manga void for me. Love all the little details in the dance steps as well as the wide range of music used throughout the series (here’s a playlist for songs featured so far). Only 3 volumes in, but I’m very interested to see how far this one can go.

5. Kono Oto Tomare! [この音とまれ!] // Amyū, 2012 (Jump SQ)

The koto club is in serious danger of disbanding with only 1 remaining member. Captain Takezo manages to recruit ragtag bunch of misfits by accident, including a group of delinquents and a koto prodigy who has given up the instrument. Can he not only keep the club alive, but fulfil their dreams of making it to the nationals?


Started this in earnest after the anime ended & it’s one of my favourite seishun school stories now – less (but not zero) focus on romance and more on friendship and working towards a common goal. The writing really aims straight for your feels, particularly since our 2 MCs are both so socially awkward and shoulder such heavy burdens in their respective lives – it makes my heart swell to see them grow and develop both as individuals and as part of a group. Overtaken Chihayafuru in my affections!

6. Dungeon Meshi [ダンジョン飯] // Kui Ryoko, 2014 (Harta)

Laius assembles a party to venture into the dungeon in order to rescue his sister Farlyn, who was devoured by a dragon. There they meet the dwarf Senshi who introduces the group to the delights of dungeon monster cuisine.


The premise is silly fluff but it goes so much deeper than just some RPG-like adventure. Granted, the story’s kind of taken a detour as more and more characters/parties are introduced but it keeps pulling readers back in with its unique brand of humour and most importantly, a group of incredibly likeable characters. Criminal that it hasn’t gotten animated yet but then you’ll think ‘how could they ever make anything that lives up to expectations?’ The PV was amazing, but it’s a tough ask for anyone to live up to a series that’s this consistently creative.

7. Sekai de Ichiban Oppai ga Suki! [世界で一番おっぱいが好き!] // Konbu Wakame, 2017 (Comic Cune)

Cool girl Chiaki who’s idolised by tons of juniors in her school turns out to be an idiot with a boob fetish who can’t perform properly at her archery unless she gets to grope breasts on a regular basis. She finds a victim(?) to satiate her lust, the big-boobed tsundere Harumi who goes along with the hijinks without much thought but somewhere along the way, the two start feeling more than each other’s boobs…


The premise seems like it’s scraping the bottom of the yuri barrel but I can assure you it’s the most entertaining thing you’ll read every month – you never knew that you needed to know so many things about breasts and their physics. Konbu’s also an expert at introducing new characters at the perfect timing – each new girl has added a new dimension to the ‘storyline’ just as things were starting to get a little flat. Deservedly licensed and getting a release in English from Yen Press!

8. Kusuriya no Hitorigoto [薬屋のひとりごと] //Nekokurage, Ikki Nanao based on novel by Hyuga Natsu, 2017 (Big Gangan)

Maomao, a girl from the pleasure district, works as a servant in the inner palace where she awaits the end of her contract. Her training in herbal medicine however, serves her well and she’s promoted to becoming a food taster. This only helps land her in all kinds of messy palace scandals and politics, and she must use her wits and pharmaceutical prowess to solve the mysteries that come one after the other.


Another award-winning series that needs little introduction – think Cadfael in a quasi-Chinese inner court and you’ve got the gist of Kusuriya. Incredibly well-written and well-developed (as you would expect from something that originates from a novel) yet not overly complex as similar titles in this genre tend to be prone to doing. And we’ve got a great MC in Maomao as well, smart and able to hold her own against all the conniving fools of the palace.

9. Kaketa Tsuki to Doughnuts [欠けた月とドーナッツ] // Usui Shio, 2019 (Comic Yuri Hime)

Outwardly, Uno Hinako is an OL whom everyone aspires to be like: well-liked, pretty and with lots of male suitors. The truth could hardly be more different: Hinako wallows in self-loathing and suffers from anxiety, unable to take the first step in pursuing any kind of romance. One night, she breaks down crying in public thinking she’s alone, but someone reaches out a hand to help her, and it’s her overly serious work senior Sato Asahi…


Yuri fans who have been crying out for something to fill the gap left by Yagate Kimi ni Naru might find that this series is the one…provided you’re open to mature stories featuring adults who are just as imperfect and immature as high-school girls. Hinako is incredibly relatable to any one of us who’re stuck in a rut, not knowing what we want from our lives. The romance aspect has been fairly slowburn so far as both Hinako and Asahi, a lady who’s unable to break free from the chains of family responsibility, grapple with the ideas of ‘love’ and ‘acceptance’. Easily my favourite yuri manga right now – too bad chapters are only published every 2 months, making the wait as painful as watching Hinako and Asahi struggling through their lives.

10. Otona ni Natte mo [おとなになっても] // Shimura Takako, 2019 (Kiss)

Primary school teacher Ayano goes to a bar after work one day and meets Akari, an employee of the watering hose who’s drinking on her day off. The women start up a flirting game, things escalate quickly and they’re both infatuated by the other before they know it. However, Ayano drops a bombshell on Akari by turning up at the bar one night with…her husband. A torrid love ‘affair’ commences.


This is typical Shimura so you know what you’re going to get. It’s fair to say the speed of developments is incredibly glacial at this point. Ayano’s husband and his family are fully aware of his wife’s infidelity – they’ve even moved back in with hubby’s parents as Ayano’s father-in-law is ill but still, she cannot deny her feelings for the helpless Akari, who’s now found herself trapped in an affair that she isn’t even sure she’s a willing participant in. I really liked Shimura’s last complete long-form work (Koiiji) so I’m hoping that this will be just as painfully satisfying(?) emotionally…but of course, you have to be a bit of a masochist in the first place to follow and love her works.

11. Spy x Family // Endō Tatsuya, 2019 (Shonen Jump+)

Master spy, codename ‘Twilight’ spends his days on undercover missions, dreaming of a better world. One day, he receives an unfathomably tough new mission from his masters that involves infiltrating the inner circle of a top target – but what he has to do first is…’find’ his own family!?


I am ever so wary of shonen titles nowadays having been burned by the last 3 I poured so much affection into (Shokugeki, Neverland, Kimetsu) – though I do see good things in Chainsaw Man and Jujutsu Kaisen, they didn’t truly hook me in….until Spy x Family comes along. Though it’s early days with <30 chapters so far, this series has lived up to the hype – I’ve laughed so hard at Twilight and his faux family’s hijinks thus far: put a spy, an assassin, an esper and a dog named Bond together and you surely won’t get anything less than chaos to the max. With the plus point that things will never get too dark, as editor Shihei Lin promises.

12. Heterogenia Linguistico ~Ishūzoku Gengōgaku Nyūmon~ [ヘテロゲニア リンギスティコ ~異種族言語学入門~] // Seno Salt, 2018 (Young Ace Up)

A linguist is convinced by his professor, who injured his back in a fall from a hot air balloon, to continue his research on his behalf. This involves journeying into the world of monsters to learn how each species communicates. Little does he know that his first port of call will bring him into contact with an interspecies (half-wolf, half-human) with whom he is able to communicate in the human language…


A sweet little story about interacting with beings who are different from mankind – not much of an overarching plot thus far as you’d expect, but it’s a truly fascinating marriage of linguistics and fantasy Fantastic worldbuilding every chapter that makes you just sit and think – have you not ever wondered how slimes communicate?

13. Ryū to Yūsha to Haitatsunin [竜と勇者と配達人] // Gregorius Yamada, 2016 (Young Jump)

Half-elf Yoshida works as a courier for the post office of the Imperial City of Idazig. Follow her perilous yet comedic travels across the fields, seas and mountains as she strives to bring you your mail in one piece!


This one is somewhat similar to Heterogenia Linguistico thematically – you have an MC travelling around lands, meeting all kinds of people/beings and hearing their stories. I’ve always been fond of the Kino no Tabi model: bite-sized, episodic tales instead of long, draggy and convoluted plotlines.

14. Ichidō Dake demo, Kōkai shitemasu [一度だけでも、後悔してます] // Miyahara Miyako, 2019 (Dengeki Daioh)

After quitting her job at a games company, Kozuka Chiyo has fallen 3 months behind on her rental payments. Her landlady (ooya-san) barges in demanding repayment, but Kozuka’s spent the remainder of her savings on beer so Ooya-san bargains with her: “Have sex with me”. Kozuka’s mind is fuzzy as she wakes up the following morning convinced that she did indeed have sex with Ooya-san, who then offers Kozuka to knock 10k yen off her debt for every ‘service’ she provides: she’ll even let her stay rent-free provided they live together. And thus, their domestic life together begins…


Ain’t yuri without some blackmail, douchey preamble eh? Don’t let that fool you or put you off though – this manga is actually incredibly cute and sweet, particularly some dozen or so chapters in when Kozuka has fallen in love with Ooya-san for real. I’m not too sure the premise will stretch much farther but I’ll enjoy their lovey-dovey antics while they last!

15. Maiko-san’chi no Makanai-san [舞妓さんちのまかないさん] // Koyama Aiko, 2019 (Shonen Sunday)

16-year old Kiyo tried and failed to become a maiko (apprentice geisha) so she’s now working as a caterer for a maiko troupe in Kyoto. This is the story of her daily life, revolving around her lovingly-cooked meals and snacks.


I’ve got an inherent weakness for food-centric stories and this one packs in a lot of cultural charm alongside the mouthwatering, unpretentious comfort food – anything from oyakodon to mapo tofu, ketchup meatballs and even melted cheese sandwiches. You can see why this is getting an anime, also on NHK, at some point in the future – it’s pure fun and informative at the same time.

16. Nettaigyō wa Yuki ni Kogareru [熱帯魚は雪に焦がれる] // Hagino Makoto, 2017 (Dengeki Maoh)

High-schooler Konatsu moves to a seaside town in Ehime following her father’s transfer overseas. Lonely and timid, Konatsu finds herself drawn towards the perfect and popular Koyuki, the sole member of their school’s Aquarium Club. This is a story of two girls who find fulfilment in each other.


Is this, or is this not yuri? That’s a question readers have been asking over the course of almost 30 chapters and only author Hagino will know if Konatsu and Koyuki will ever be canon. It’s not as blue-balling as a certain other series [cough /AniYome cough] in terms of not-so-subtle yuri subtext – heck, we’ve had the ‘tsuki ga kirei’ line already, but the pace will probably kill a lot of people more used to the instant relatively well-paced gratification of series like Citrus and Yagakimi. The relationship between Konatsu and Koyuki is your textbook ‘beautiful relationship’ characteristic of a Class S story but I know lots of fans are hoping it goes beyond that. Here’s to hoping!

18. Daiya no Ace Act II [ダイヤのA act II] // Terajima Yūji, 2015 (Shonen Magazine)

Now in his second year, Sawamura Eijun continues the battle to be the Ace/#1 pitcher for Seidō High School’s baseball team and alongside his team-mates, make it to Koshien through the West Tokyo leg of the 90th National High School Baseball Championship.


It’s no secret that I’m a sports anime addict, but I hesitate to say the same for manga – I guess my brain is too addled to be able to adequately imagine the exhilarating action in series like Haikyuu! The exceptions are Adachi Mitsuru works, which are hardly about sport, and Ace of Diamond, a series that I’ve followed since the first anime season aired in 2013 and subsequently moving on to the manga (running since 2006). It’s got all the usual hallmarks of hot-blooded shonen sports titles: friendly rivalries, edge-of-the-seat battles, long-term character development that makes you (overly) invested in the fate of this dozen or so teenagers.

19. Fumetsu no Anata e [不滅のあなたへ] // Oima Yoshitoki, 2016 (Shonen Magazine)

From the Koe no Katachi author comes an epic dark fantasy about an immortal being who shapeshifts into figures who have died throughout his life…


Or so that used to be the case, what with the story recently shifting into its 2nd main arc set in the modern world. Now the bets are all off and I’m just utterly confused as to the direction that the series is heading into…the anime is coming to NHK this autumn bar Covidelays and I’m quite nervous about how it’ll turn out – it’ll be a challenge to animate and write the first 1-2 mini arcs, for sure.

20. Kimi wa Hōkago Insomnia [君は放課後インソムニア] // Ojiro Makoto, 2019 (Big Comic Spirits)

There’s a rumour going around, that the now-defunct Astronomy Club’s room is haunted by the ghost of a girl who killed herself and cursed the rest of the members to follow her into the afterlife. The smart but antisocial Nakami is disliked by his classmates for his moodiness. While prepping for the school festival, he’s sent to the observatory to gather cardboard, when he stumbles upon classmate Isaki, who’s a popular student in his class. The one thing the 2 share in common – sleeping problems. They find refuge in the observatory, the only place where rest awaits them – so they end up making it their own cosy little private room where they can ‘sleep together’.


If you hadn’t already realised…I love stories about misfits finding kindred spirits in each other. This is not quite your typical high school love story – there is a very relaxed vibe as we watch the 2 MCs chat life and teenage strife against the backdrop of the stars. It’s so far, so wholesome but you’ve got to wonder if Nakami and Isaki will ever take the next step….me? As a sufferer of random bouts of insomnia myself, I’m just content to go on a soothing stargazing session along with our young, troubled duo.

Current regular monthly digital manga subscriptions
Comic Yuri Hime
Dengeki Daioh
Dengeki Maoh

Sporadically pick up issues of:
Comic Rex


Suito~to! (すいとーと!)
Author: Okino Yui
First Published: 2019
Serialization: Shonen Jump+ (Shueisha)
Volumes: 1 (Ongoing)

‘Suito-to’ means ‘suki da yo’ (I like [you]) in the Hakata dialect, which gives you a clue as to where this manga is set – in the bustling heart of Fukuoka. We’re introduced to sophomore Momose Momo, your typical trendy, social media-obsessed college student with a fondness for sweets….or maybe not? Turns out it’s all a ruse to maintain her ‘cute, kind & adorable’ sweetheart image – in truth, the Tokyo-born Momo is a glutton who loves the sinfully rich, fatty stuff.

The person who unmasks her real nature is freshman Shimizu Yuzu, who comes across Momo in a ramen chain one day and from there onwards, they become partners in foodporn crime when off campus. Initially Momo doesn’t dare acknowledge Yuzu in front of her friends, lest her image be ruined.

Whenever Momo’s cravings hit, they’ll go food-hunting around town with Yuzu(pedia) serving as her guide. Each chapter is named after, and focuses on a particular dish served in the characters’ eatery of choice, all of which are real places found in and around Fukuoka.

And of course, the yuri. Yuzu is unabashedly in love with Momo from the get-go, boldly moving in for a garlic-infused goodbye kiss when Momo’s trapped in her car with no way to escape. Conversely, Momo is the ‘in-denial’ type; firmly insisting that she doesn’t swing that way and inwardly denying that she has any feelings for Yuzu but still blushing furiously whenever they so much as brush their fingertips together.

It’s not just a story of two though – add Harukawa Sakura, a Momo fangirl who’s crushed to discover her idol is nothing like what she believes her to be, and playfully cool (but lazy) 3rd year beauty Chiaki Momiji, Yuzu’s senior at her part-time job who quickly asks Momo out on a beer-and-sardines date, and our Gourmet Guild is complete!

This manga appeals to me through the two things I love most in media – food and yuri! The food:yuri ratio is about 70:30, though the romance is definitely ramping up in recent chapters as Momo comes to terms with her feelings and whether she thinks of Yuzu as ‘more than a friend’.

Alas, the latest chapter ends on a cliff-hanger with Momo’s rather stern-looking mother turning up on her doorstep. Looks like we might have to wait a while for further updates as Okino-sensei is taking a short break to do some ‘research’, though she did post some sweet bonus shorts on the Shonen Jump+ site to tide readers over.

Suito~to! is available translated to Spanish on Shueisha’s Mangaplus website/app, but no dice for English readers yet. Hopefully that will change in the near future; it’d be criminal for a series this lovely to not reach a broader audience.

Chapters so far:
1: Yakiniku (grilled meat) in ‘Bikkuri Tei Honke
2: Taiwan Mazesoba (mixed noodles) in ‘Zaiton
3: Kamameshi (kettle rice) in ‘Kamameshi Victoria
4: Udon in ‘Udon Usagiya
5: Gyoza in ‘Asahi-ken
6: Hot dog in ‘Imaya no Hamburger
7: Motsunabe (offal hotpot) using motsu from ‘Anzu Meat Factory
8: Butaman (pork buns) in ‘Yosuko
9: Kaki (oysters) in ‘Kaki House Maruhachi
10: Chawanmushi (steamed egg) in ‘Chawanmushi Honpo Inaho
11: Yakitori torikawa (grilled chicken skin) in ‘Kawaya
12: Reimen (cold noodles) in ‘Beppu Reimen Kogetsu
13: Jigoku mushi (hell-steamed cooking) in ‘Nagomi no Yado Mutsuki
14: Purin + Dangojiru (pudding + dumpling soup) in ‘Umijigoku’ and ‘Masa Shokudo
15: Hana no Pan matsuri (flower viewing bread festival)

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite Vol.3

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite 3 (やがて君になる佐伯沙弥香について (3), Bloom Into You: Regarding Saeki Sayaka 3)
Author: Iruma Hitoma, based on original manga by Nakatani Nio
First Published: 2020
Imprint: Dengeki Bunko (Kadokawa)
Volumes: 3/3

No overly detailed summary or analysis this time (by my standards) as I’d really rather just spend whatever time I have on speed-translating the novel, but here’s an outline of the major happenings. I made all these notes as I went along & didn’t edit any of it so I apologise in advance for any typos or mistakes. FAQ at the end for all the important questions!

Chapter 1/Prologue: Already translated. Basically an excerpt of Haru’s confession to Sayaka – this part is not included in the story proper, so it would be good to come back and read it when the relevant scene comes to pass.

Chapter 2:

–Brief texts between Sayaka and Touko. About acting.–

1. Starts off a month or so after the scene in the epilogue of Volume 2 where Sayaka and Haru first met. They are now friends and meet up quite often at uni. Haru invites Sayaka over to her apartment for lunch one day, since it’s fairly close to the campus. Much to Sayaka’s surprise, Haru’s a great cook. They mostly share small talk before Haru pushes the conversation to a more personal direction, asking Sayaka what she thinks of her and more importantly, whether she has a significant other. By this point Sayaka already gets the hint that Haru’s interested in her, but she brushes it off, thinking to herself that they don’t know each other that well…yet.

2. Sayaka and Yuu meet up at Miyako’s café, which has expanded to the 2nd floor now. Their conversations still revolve around Touko for the most part, but a lot friendlier. Sayaka deduces that Yuu spent the previous night at Touko’s place, but she won’t say why she knows. Yuu asks Sayaka about her uni life and Sayaka mentions that she’s made a friend. “A friend? Is she really your friend?” And she’d love to meet Sayaka’s ‘friend’ someday. Ah, Yuu remains the best foil for Sayaka.

3. Sayaka heads to the uni library to browse through the papers. The TV is on, and she watches a female swimmer being interviewed on TV. Medium-length, dark-haired, sunburnt girl.…be? Sayaka gazes intently at the screen before being interrupted by Haru, who appears to be stalking the library every day in hopes of running into Sayaka. She invites Sayaka to go to the pool. Someday, comes the answer. Haru invites her for lunch at her place (for the xth time) but Sayaka’s already eaten, and she has a lecture to head to.

They walk, and run into a girl familiar to Haru…who promptly ignores Haru’s greeting. Sayaka’s spidey senses are tingling and she decides to skip lectures (OMG!), pulling Haru to a deserted bench – their place of destiny. There, Sayaka’s curiosity about why Haru was crying when they first met is satisfied. The girl is indeed, Haru’s ex-girlfriend who dumped her as soon as they started uni cos ‘girls together? People will give us weird looks!’ Haru comes out as a lesbian to Sayaka and insists though, that she’s gotten over being dumped and isn’t bothered any more cos…fate brought her to meet Sayaka instead! And Haru keeps saying Sayaka’s beautiful which of course, makes her blush. She loves Sayaka’s long hair too.

–Brief texts between Sayaka and Touko. About Sayaka’s cats, and Touko wanting to meet up with Sayaka…someday.–

4. July 29. It’s Sayaka’s 20th birthday. Early celebratory texts from Midori and Manaka, who are living together. Of course, none from Haru cos she doesn’t know Sayaka’s birthday. Funny how Sayaka’s thinking about Haru first thing on her birthday morning! She decides to send Haru a text telling her it’s her birthday. And of course, Haru gets frantic at not having prepared anything, eventually proposing to Sayaka that she come over to her apartment where…Sayaka can celebrate her passage to adulthood with her first taste of alcohol. While she drinks Coke, of course.

Sayaka hates beer. It’s bitter as hell. Small talk again, before Sayaka moves the conversation into slightly dangerous territory by bringing up Haru’s ex. Haru ends up drinking…underage! Though she concedes she’s tried drinking cooking alcohol already, hah. Now they’re both tipsy, and heated. And Haru directly asks Sayaka if she has a girlfriend. It’s the alcohol, Sayaka believes, that loosens her mouth. At the moment, no. Which Haru correctly interprets as her having had one before. Sayaka starts describing Yuzuki-senpai and the bitterness is evident. Sayaka’s description makes Haru think she might have a chance with Sayaka. And so, she approaches Sayaka and [start confession – refer to prologue].

Sayaka feels like she’s on fire. Is it the alcohol or the confession, or both? At the back of her mind, she knew this would happen at some point. She has long sensed Haru’s attraction to her and made no attempt to discourage it. Sayaka muses that she’s allowed Haru to come this close to her and wonders what she’s expecting out of it. Does she merely want someone to understand her? Or is she looking for a new love? Sayaka’s conclusion: Alcohol is bad, it makes her say and do uncharacteristic things, and all she wants to do now is go home, lock herself in her room and analyse everything. She asks Haru for time to think things through.

Chapter 3:

–Brief texts between Sayaka and Touko. About alcohol, and comparing each other to the seasons.–

1. Sayaka goes to treat her hangover at Miyako’s café. Of course, she ends up telling Miyako about Haru’s confession, and about her past love. Miyako acts as the sage advisor, as always. Sayaka’s worried that the outcome of any future courtship will be the same as with Yuzuki, but it’s clear to see that she’s already seriously considering a relationship with Haru. In truth, Sayaka doesn’t need any advice from Miyako – just someone to listen to her, and to give her the little push that she needs.

2. Sayaka and Haru meet up on campus. It’s obviously awkward for Haru, having to face the one she loves knowing that the other party has full knowledge of her feelings. Haru ponders if they should stop seeing each other until Sayaka can give her an answer.

Sayaka texts Haru asking to meet up. Haru is nervous, but Sayaka tells her not to worry. And to expect a favourable outcome, which only serves to send Haru’s brain further into overload.

3. Haru’s face is green when they meet. Poor girl is sick to her stomach with anxiety, and…turns out she’s been drinking to calm her nerves. Hah. But Haru’s happy, for this is the first time Sayaka has ever asked to meet up – usually, the request comes from her.

They head to their bench of destiny. Q & A time:

Q: Why do you like me?
A: It was love at first sight.

Sayaka’s still unsure; proceeds to tell Haru that she’s not exactly overwhelmingly in love with her and goes on to compare Haru’s confession with Yuzuki’s. Sayaka asks for a trial period of ‘being together’. Haru compares herself to being a food sample (hahahaa) and accepts.

4. Sayaka and Haru walking together on campus again. Haru comments that something feels different now, though nothing’s changed. This makes Sayaka think of Touko and how she was too cowardly to take action for fear of change.

Before they head to separate lectures, Haru tells Sayaka she loves her again. Sayaka once again broods inwardly over her feelings and considers how she’s being unfair to Haru. Can you date someone if you’re not 100% in love with them…yet? Sayaka thinks of Haru positively, but her fear of failure is holding her back from pursuing the relationship.

5. Sayaka calls Midori (and Manaka, by default). She’s closer to Midori as they were classmates in their final year of high school. Sayaka has a strange request for Midori – she wants her to say ‘I love you’ to her. Midori complies [Manaka in background: Ah, you just cheated on me!]. Manaka then asks Sayaka to say the same three words to her [Midori in background: Now you’re the one cheating on me!]. Sayaka ends up listening to Manaka & Midori fooling around for 20 minutes. Mostly talking about cats.

6. Sayaka’s over at Haru’s apartment for lunch. As usual, their conversation is prefaced by Haru declaring her love for Sayaka. She says it out loud to reaffirm her feelings, apparently. Sayaka notes the indecision that plagues her and how Haru is the opposite, with spades and spades of conviction in her actions. She tells Haru that she has much to learn from her, which troubles Haru – because she absolutely loves the Sayaka who is front of her right now. She may not know what Sayaka is thinking or what she hides, but what she knows is that she loves seeing Sayaka laugh, loves seeing her happy.

The unusually long explanation makes Sayaka blush. Haru wants to know what Sayaka thinks of her but instead of answering, Sayaka asks Haru to say ‘I love you’ again and that puzzles her since she says it pretty much every day. Haru eventually complies and Sayaka’s response this time is just two nods of the head and an “I see, I see”.

Sayaka concedes that it’s not love at first sight for her when it comes to Haru, unlike Touko. She’s not sure that this is love, as yet. But there’s something about Haru that brings her warmth and light. It’s different when Haru tells her she loves her, compared to when Midori says it.

All the signs point to the fact that I’m definitely going to fall in love with you in the future.
So until I fall in love with you, I need you to stay in love with me.
Edamoto-san, let’s date.

Haru can’t believe it. Needless to say, she’s overwhelmed with joy. And once again tells Sayaka that she’s beautiful.

7. Sayaka’s so excited she can’t sleep. I’ve got a girlfriend. And she thinks about Haru, and how to approach this new relationship.

8. Sayaka and Haru meet up on campus. Haru notices she’s cut her hair and wonders whether it has anything to do with them officially dating…but of course not, it’s not like they’ve broken up! Haru compliments Sayaka and tells her she’s even more in love with her now, and how she can’t believe that such a beauty would ever love her back. But Haru then wonders if Sayaka is deceiving her.

Sayaka: What if I am?
Haru: Then please lie to me forever.

Sayaka still calls Haru Edamoto-san and Haru replies with a ‘Just Haru is fine’ as usual. This time, Sayaka complies.

— Sayaka and Haru exchange texts about trivial things like favourite colours and food. This time, Sayaka calls Haru ‘Haru’—

–Sayaka texts Yuu about their date the following day and asks if she can bring someone with her. Yuu thinks, ‘Oh I finally get to meet your ‘friend’!’ but Sayaka says she’s not her friend…well, only half a friend. Which completely confuses Yuu, before Sayaka gets to the point: I want to introduce my girlfriend to you.

9. Sayaka takes Haru to meet Yuu at her family bookshop. Haru is terribly nervous throughout, messing up her introductions though she does proudly manage to declare herself as Sayaka’s girlfriend. Which makes them both blush, and Yuu wonders if she should just get out of the room and stop being a third wheel. At the end of the date, Sayaka remarks that she thinks Yuu’s gonna stay over at Touko’s place again tonight. How does she know?

10. Haru asks Sayaka if anything ever happened between her and Yuu. ‘Nothing that you should be worried about’ is the answer. Haru notes that they get along so well, Sayaka insists she’s just a friend. Haru believes that love and friendship is the same, that you place the persons dear in your heart. And that you have a ranking for those persons. After enquiring about Sayaka’s family, Haru declares that she wants to Sayaka’s 5th most important person (after her parents and grandparents lol). It’s a cute conversation, which concludes with Haru telling Sayaka to fall in love with her as soon as possible.

11. Sayaka’s unnamed uni friend comments that it feels like ages since she’s last seen her. But of course, cos Sayaka’s spending all her spare time with Haru. Said friend muses whether Sayaka’s found a boyfriend, which she denies. In the midst of their conversation, Sayaka spots Haru in a passing crowd and Haru notices her too. Haru seems like she wants to wave at Sayaka but wary of her friend, keeps her head down and walks along in the crowd. Until her friend points out Haru as ‘the girl from before’.

Lightbulb moment for Sayaka, who makes a lame excuse and quickly runs after Haru. She’s ditching her friend to be with her girl, and Haru questions if that’s okay. Sayaka dismisses it, thinking that she’s done with being a good girl and that she needs to stop being bound by responsibility. It feels like she’ll lose her girl this time if she doesn’t take initiative.

12. They’re having lunch at Haru’s place again. Done with eating and the dishes, Haru walks over to where Sayaka’s sitting and wraps her arms around her shoulders, taking her by surprise. The act sends Sayaka’s pulse racing etc. Haru apologises for the sudden move, whispering in her ear…which sends a shiver down her spine. So close.

Of course Haru ends up ruining the moment by looking down and hesitating, pleading with Sayaka not to get mad, before saying ‘your boobs are quite big’. Sexual harassment! And she then asks her to go to the pool again.

13. To the university’s pool they go. There’s hardly anyone around. Haru compliments Sayaka; that no swimsuit she chooses could ever compare to her natural beauty. But also mentions her lovely legs. And again tells her she’s beautiful. But what Haru means is that she looks so erotic. Hah!

Empty pool, so they decide to race. Despite being a fast runner, Haru’s not such a good swimmer and Sayaka beats her handily. Haru protests, saying she’s a creature of the land.

They enjoy having the pool to themselves but Sayaka starts to dwell on how well this relationship is going, which in itself worries her, as she’s never experienced a love that’s progressed so smoothly. The fear of the unknown. The fear of making mistakes. What will it take to make her satisfied?

Deep in thought, Sayaka dives to the bottom of the pool and looks up, stretching her hands to reach a light that seems so near, yet so far. Haru eventually dives in after Sayaka and reaches out for her hand, her eyes signaling: What’re you doing here? Next we know, Sayaka’s closing in and plants a kiss on Haru’s neck. Haru returns the favour.

Running out of air, they return to the surface. Together, hand in hand. She’s back where she belongs, but she’s not alone – Haru is with her. They’re still holding hands, and Sayaka comments on the warmth of the palm of her hand. A warmth that has brought her to where she is right now, a warmth that makes her think that she wants to remain here. She no longer needs to run away.

Sayaka understands now, what she felt and saw at the bottom of the pool. Understands the intense pain that she’s experienced throughout the years. And now knows what love is, and that it exists in this world. Relieved that she has found peace before all the pain and failure consumes her. Believes that she now knows what happiness is.

–Sayaka and Haru exchange texts. This is post-Student Council reunion (last chapter of the manga). Sayaka tells Haru she’s going to meet up with someone – the girl she loved in high school. She wants to be open with Haru about it. Haru jokingly reminds her not to cheat on her–

–Sayaka texts Touko to arrange a meet-up–

14. Sayaka and Touko meet at Miyako’s cafe – it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other properly, discounting the Student Council reunion. Sayaka comments that it doesn’t feel that way since she gets regular updates from Yuu, whom she often sees. ‘Often’? That’s news to Touko, who jokingly(?) accuses Sayaka of cheating.

Sayaka mentions she stopped by Yuu’s shop to buy Koyomi’s book – Touko already has a signed copy since Koyomi is her university junior and they often see each other (together with Yuu).

The talk moves on to Sayaka’s girlfriend – Touko is still very much peeved that she wasn’t informed of this. Sayaka describes Haru briefly and tells Touko that she intended to meet Touko alone only after she’s certain she’s in love with Haru. They switch to more mundane topics like Touko’s attempts at cooking and Yuu. They’re not really discussing anything new, but they’re glad they met up.

Sayaka has heard Touko’s voice and has reaffirmed that she’s happy – those are the 2 reasons she wanted to see her. Sayaka doesn’t think that she and Touko will see each other much after this – she’s stopped wanting to walk parallel paths with Touko and in time, the distance between them will only increase. But before they part, she wants to try something. Sayaka proposes that they play Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide who foots the bill.

Chapter 4:

—short paragraph on Sayaka wanting to reach for unattainable stars (ie Touko) and how she failed. She has found another star to look at and this time, she intends to reach out and touch it. She’s already jumping–

It’s winter. They’ve just stepped out of Haru’s apartment and descending the staircase when Sayaka tells Haru she’s been wanting her to drop the ‘senpai’ part of her name for a long while. Haru finds it hard, but tries. Sayaka…

Haru loses her nerve and prefers to attach the honorific. Sayaka calls her a good girl, patting her on the head…which Haru tries to dodge. As random as ever, Haru declares her girlfriend a ‘beauty!’ and still can’t believe that a beauty like Sayaka would ever love her. Haru clings to Sayaka as if to confirm her existence. The moment she lets go, she starts to doubt again. Sayaka reassures Haru that she loves her, playing with her fringe a little and touches her cheek.

It makes me happy when you tell me you love me. My heart soars when you say I’m beautiful. That’s why I love you.

That satisfies Haru, and they continue descending. Turns out Haru’s been texting Yuu for advice on dealing with Sayaka, much to Sayaka’s chagrin. God knows what secrets of hers Yuu’s been spilling. But Sayaka also learns from Haru that Yuu privately calls Touko by her first name. She’s not bothered though, and accepts the fact that she’ll probably know even less about them both in the future – you get to know people, but you have to say goodbye to them someday.

Sayaka’s left Touko’s side, and she’s standing here now on a cold winter night. She tells Haru to go back to her room (or she feels like Haru will tag along all the way to the station). Sayaka says that, but she knows neither of them wants to see the other go – and it’s always like this when they part, both wanting to prolong their time together for as long as possible.

Haru wishes spring would come as soon as possible. Side by side, they look up at the sky. Haru hopes that this coming season, she won’t be crying like the first time they met in spring. Sayaka teases her saying she can’t guarantee that and jokes about slapping her on the cheek. As if she would. Haru says she’s a good girl, Sayaka denies this and muses that she’s only been holding herself back. Haru tells her not to hold back any more…and slap her if she wants, hah.

Haru takes Sayaka’s right hand and places it on her cheek. It’s cold. More talk, and the heat is turning up. Sayaka wants to feel Haru closer, leans down and Haru in turn, tiptoes slightly as they kiss. It doesn’t last long cos they’re standing there in the dead of winter.

Warm. That’s Sayaka’s assessment of the kiss, and she sees Haru touch a finger to her lips, as if to convince herself that this is real. They finally part.

….but Sayaka stops. The warmth of the kiss is gradually fading away in the cold, and a strong desire wells up inside Sayaka – she wants to return to Haru, to touch her once more. All she needs to do is turn around and she’ll see Haru again. But common sense overtakes her and Sayaka senses she’ll ruin herself if she goes back to Haru’s apartment.

It’s too early for us to be doing that.

This is what it feels like to love someone. You become selfish. Desire and love are two things that are impossible to separate from the other, Sayaka thinks.

I’ll become more like ‘myself’ in the days to come. All I hope for is that this will also lead to Haru’s happiness.


Q: Is Haru the swimming pool girl from Novel 1?
A: Definitely no, unless both Sayaka and Haru have major amnesia.

Q: Is the swimming pool girl the one on the TV?
A: Maybe. No confirmation either way, but TV girl definitely makes Sayaka think things.

Q: What does Sayaka call Haru?
A: For the longest time, Edamoto-san. It takes…169 pages for Sayaka to call Haru ‘Haru’. Sayaka still calls Yuu ‘Koito-san’ though.

Q: Who named (Edamoto) Haru?
A: Nakatani-sensei. Iruma says he’s awful at choosing names hohoho

Q: Is Sayaka still in love with Touko?
A: Not in love per se, but you can still tell that there are lingering emotions and regret. As ever, Sayaka loves to dwell on things, and she continues to have hang-ups over Yuzuki-senpai throughout this volume. Looks like all that has come to an end now that Haru’s her girl though.

Q: What is Sayaka and Touko’s relationship like nowadays?
A: They’re still ‘best friends’ but Sayaka being Sayaka, prefers to maintain a bit of distance from Touko.

Q: What is Sayaka and Yuu’s relationship like nowadays?
A: I would say they’re even better friends than Sayaka/Touko. Their personalities are more compatible in terms of forming a friendship anyhow.

Q: Does Sayaka have any other friends?
A: Her pool of acquaintances in university is tiny (probably mostly that one girl who keeps skipping lectures) and they’re never mentioned by name. Just ‘friend’ (友人). By contrast, Sayaka refers to Haru as 友達 (tomodachi), which is a more familiar, casual way of referring to a friend. I guess you could substitute in ‘buddy’ or ‘pal’ but that just sounds…awkward. For someone like Sayaka, at least.

Q: Describe Haru!
A: Unlike the 2 other girls Sayaka has loved, who she describes as being beauties, Haru is more…adorable. Very similar to Yuu, which might explain why Sayaka gets along with her so easily. Haru is the polar opposite of Sayaka personality-wise: as Sayaka says, Haru has a lot of traits that she herself lacks. She openly & proactively expresses what she’s thinking (vs Sayaka’s ‘I must go back to my room and brood about things for 12 hours!!’). She’s also a good cook, a point that Sayaka hammers home repeatedly. Haru’s independent, a hard-worker when she needs to be, always smiling, always lively – in other words, she’s the ray of sunshine that Sayaka needs in her drab life.

Q: Are Midori and Manaka dating?
A: Your guess is as good as mine. Friends with benefits?

Q: How are the cats and Grandma?
A: Still well and alive. They don’t appear much in this volume, sadly.

Eve no Okusuri

Eve no Okusuri (イブのおくすり, Eve’s Medicine)
First Published: 2019
Publisher: Vivid Girls Love Anthology Mebae (Young King Comics, Shōnen Gahōsha)
Volumes: 1 (Complete)

Thanks to my love for Warikan I decided to pick up one of FLOWERCHILD’s other works, a one-volume compilation of her stories published over the last 5 years in the Mebae yuri anthologies – the titular series is a multi-chapter story, with 2 unrelated one-shots (Subtropics Hotel & Lustful Woman x Lustful Woman) thrown in at the end.

Eve’s Medicine

A 6-chapter series largely focusing on the relationship between a school nurse Yuni-sensei and junior high school girl Eve (Ibu/衣舞) – it starts off as a typical predatory one-loli story so if that’s not your jazz, best skip this. I did raise an eyebrow at certain situations where the age gap was played up for maximum titillating effect, especially as Yuni-sensei holds so much power in her hands and doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of it. They do become consensual lovers by the end of the story as the tables turn and Eve awakens to her sexual desires and the eroticism of her own body, if that’s any consolation at all.

The secondary story revolves around Eve’s best friend Ena-chan, who has a crush on her tennis club senior Kaori-senpai – Ena is just starting to discover the teenage emotions of lust and attraction to other human bodies and I did find it quite amusing to see the vividness of her fantasies of Kaori-senpai when she’s masturbating.

After club activities one day, Ena returns to the clubroom to retrieve her forgotten phone where she stumbles across Kaori who’s in an aroused state thanks to their evil Coach Shima, who’s been messing around with Kaori’s body. Coach Shima forces Ena to watch as she has sex with Kaori and eventually, the coach makes Kaori perform oral sex on Ena as well. Kaori apologises to Ena the next day for what happened and denies that she’s dating Coach Shima when asked and tries to leave it at that, but Ena insists that she wants to continue seeing Kaori-senpai even if they stay just friends for now.

Subtropics Hotel

Sanada Tachibana & Onitora Misuzu were best friends in junior high but their relationship soured for reasons unknown once they entered high school. One of their classmates Hayashida Claire notices that the animosity between the pair tends to result in the pretty Sanada, who’s always surrounded by boys, becoming the victim of vicious pranks. Determined to fix their broken friendship, Hayashida separately calls Sanada and Onitora to her family home – which happens to be a love hotel run by her parents, and locks the pair in a room so that they can trash out all their problems. Hot, angry make-up sex happens and they end up naked in a bathtub.

Lustful Woman x Lustful Woman

A story set in the near future about 2 young ladies who work at the same café and have been dating for 3 months. 21-year old Miyako gets infected by a new strain of virus that’s invaded the country – it took her a week to recover but she’s been left with the worst side effects ever aka she grew a dick. Futanari sex with her girlfriend Keiko ensues, half of it being watched by Keiko’s younger sister from inside a cupboard. We never get to find out if Miyako’s dick ever goes away…


No matter the subject matter, FLOWERCHILD’s art style is always easy on the eyes – the ideas may be nothing more than your typical hurried, nonsensical soft-porn plotlines that are a mere pretext for sex but I have to confess the sex is as tasteful as soft-porn could possibly be, dicks and lolis and all.

I suppose it’s easy to see why FLOWERCHILD’s got a reputation as the lady who draws (good) erotic yuri! She’s obviously had to tone her love for risqué content down a notch for the sake of getting serialized in a mainstream publication like Comic Yuri Hime, but her talent is there to see. A longer serialisation should give her the opportunity to show she can write a proper story too, instead of the fragments of confusing plot that are characteristic of one-shot stories.

Warikitta Kankei desu kara.

Warikitta Kankei desu kara. (割り切った関係ですから。, Because It’s A Relationship With Benefits.)
First Published: 2019
Serialization: Comic Yuri Hime (Ichijinsha)
Volumes: 1 (Ongoing)

I’ve been waxing lyrical about this one on Twitter every month since it started its run so needless to say it’s a firm favourite of mine, ticking all my boxes – as in the dirty, dangerous and lewd ones.

Two women meet each other on a mobile dating app.

16-year old high-school outcast Kaburagi Aya aka AYA yearns to meet someone new and manages to exchange contacts with an adult lady named KURO.

They talk about what they ate today, their hobbies, and progress to exchanging selfies…but they’ve yet to meet.

One day, AYA notices that there’s something a little off about KURO’s state of mind. Feeling anxious, she goes over to KURO’s apartment to meet her…

That’s the official blurb, and the moment Aya steps into her apartment is where it all starts going to pot.

Rewinding back a little first – both Aya and Kuro, real name Kurosaki Sei, aren’t being truthful when they hook up on the app (but who is?). Aya lies that she’s a 19-year old college student and Kuro sort of lies that she’s a 24-year old public worker – she’s really a high-school teacher.

Kuro is provocative and manipulative – commenting that Aya’s breasts look big from a selfie she sent, constantly texting Aya about wanting to see her and eventually saying ‘I want to fuck you & mess you up’, giving Aya her address and telling her to come or else she’ll block Aya on the app.

Naive Aya obliges, much to Kuro’s amusement. Aya is enraged by Kuro’s antics; she was genuinely worried, only to find out that Kuro’s playing her and Kuro in turn accuses her of being dishonest with herself – if she’d really wanted some chaste friendship talking about food and hobbies then she should’ve stuck to Instagram and not gotten on a matching app.

Kuro pulls Aya into her flat and launches into a series of sexual acts on the teenager – biting, groping, kissing, licking her stockinged foot…yikes, Kuro’s an unabashed pervert. Aya does little to stop Kuro until she comes to her senses when Kuro starts to entice her into her bed.

Despite the encounter leaving a bad taste in Aya’s mouth she can’t bring herself to block or ignore Kuro and so, the push and pull continues for a few chapters as Aya’s resolve crumbles ever more quickly in the face of Kuro’s determination to break her down. Things get heavy during a karaoke date when Kuro mentions how she was in love with her best friend in school (named Yoru) & that they’re no longer in touch now after she confessed to & kept pressuring her despite being rejected.

Aya, wishing to maintain this ‘no strings attached’ relationship, agrees to take the place of Yoru in Kuro’s fantasies and they take things to the next level with a particularly lengthy and erotic sex scene that plays out over most of chapter 5, the last in Volume 1.

Along the way, we’re introduced to side characters like Kuro’s gyaru students who tease her about rumours that she likes to get it on with her pupils, plus Aya’s BFF Haruki who seems a lot more dangerous than she lets on – she’s even told Aya that she’ll die if Aya were ever to get a boyfriend.

We’re still in the early stages of the story with only 5 chapters gone but the tone is already set and I’m expecting major drama down the line as Haruki tries to wrestle Aya back from Kuro’s grasp. Of course, I can’t help but root for the main couple – there’s just something cathartic about seeing two broken people patching each other up, even if it’s through the most depraved of ways.

The art is of course, exceptional. FLOWERCHILD really has a way with drawing female bodies and putting them in incredibly suggestive positions – it’s sexy but not outlandishly so.

Just a minor change in the tankoubon where Kuro’s nipples are drawn in, plus the usual extras. Loved the bonus pages about how FLOWERCHILD met her editor and eventually got serialised – it was hilarious how her future editor already knew who she was, as the ‘person who draws erotic yuri’, and how he introduced himself as the guy who did a ‘yuri pregnancy anthology’. They’re a match made in yuri heaven!

Seriously hoping the series does well enough to warrant a decently long run….!

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite Vol 2 translation

Just in case anyone’s somehow missed it, I’ve finished translating the entirety of Vol 2 of the Sayaka novel (accessible here). I’d originally planned to go back and do Vol 1 if nobody else picked it up but the series is licensed now so do buy the volumes when they’re released. Fingers crossed that Vol 3 will be out by year-end so that we can all see Sayaka get her girl ASAP :3

(Update, February 2020: I’ve re-edited the whole thing & dumped it into a PDF for easier reading. Will delete all traces of the translation when Seven Seas gets it out officially, so grab it while you still can!)

UPDATE APRIL 23 2020: Now available to purchase digitally. Please support official translations!

Kusanagi-sensei wa Tamesareteiru

Kusanagi-sensei wa Tamesareteiru. (草薙先生は試されている。, Kusanagi-sensei is Being Tested)
Author: Yasuda Kōsuke
First Published: 2017
Runs on: Twi4 (web manga, Seikaisha)
Volumes: 2 (Ongoing)

Yasuda Kōsuke’s most well-known work is the delightfully underrated 3-volume Watashi to Kanojo no Otamari Eiga about two college students having weekend movie night get-togethers, so I went into this one with semi-high expectations. Kusanagi-sensei wa Tamesareteiru. originally started life as a one-shot/pilot before expanding into a proper series that now runs online via the Twi4 (Twitter 4-koma) platform.

First things first – if you’re at all uncomfortable dealing with age-gap stories especially where one half of the equation is very much under age, then it’s time to stop reading this and head for the exits. Don’t read this just to end up moaning at a story that doesnt’t fit in with your moral compass. Even if you’re fine with the basic idea, be warned that:

1) it’s a 24-year age gap – our protagonists are 36 and 12 at the start of the series
2) the adult half of the pairing is/was in love with her BFF, the mother of her teenage love interest
3) what starts off as a harmless crush does indeed turn into reciprocal love and as of some 270+ chapters in, they are in a (chaste) relationship

So if none of that triggers you, welcome. The titular character is one Kusanagi Minako, a 36-year old English teacher, who discovers that her best friend Yae’s daughter Kubota Kazuki has enrolled in her school. To Kusanagi’s shock, Kazuki aka Hime-chan confesses her love to her after classes one day and asks Kusanagi to go out with her. Kusanagi eventually turns her down after admitting that she’s still in love with someone…and the next day, Hime-chan turns up at school having cut her hair to look exactly like her mom used to. And so, the game is on as Hime-chan aims to capture Kusanagi-sensei in her pursuit of love.

Kusanagi-sensei runs in a 4-koma format which normally makes you think of gags & puns; there are those of course, but there is also actual development and the overarching tone is serious – no, this is not Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!? where age-gap relationships are played for slapstick jokes. There are flashbacks to flesh out the characters’ backgrounds, side-arcs featuring supporting characters and lots and lots of introspection from Kusanagi-sensei.

Yes, introspection – there’s no running away from any of the problems that you would think are likely to crop up. At first, Kusanagi-sensei’s judgement appears to be clouded by the fact that she sees Yae in Hime-chan’s face and you alarmingly start to wonder if she’d fall for her for that icky reason.

Kusanagi has deliberately distanced herself from Yae since her marriage, not wanting to suffer seeing her wedded bliss having never gathered the courage to confess her one-sided love to her, which we later on see was not so one-sided after all as Yae ponders whether her life would’ve been different if either one of them had been brave enough to explore their feelings. Yae is constantly talking about her best friend ‘Mina’ to her daughter and as a result, we see that Hime-chan is already fascinated by this idol-like Mina character before she even gets to meet her. And when they meet, the attraction is instant for Hime-chan.

We easily get to see how different mother and daughter are though – Hime-chan is your typical brash, confident teenager who’s not afraid of boldly asserting her love for Kusanagi-sensei. Strangely, Hime-chan never comes off as annoying, like many other similar characters in her position would – her head is well fixed on her shoulders and her directness is actually a good foil for Kusanagi-sensei who is extremely insecure and prone to brooding and bouts of self-loathing, which I suppose is what a 2-decade long one-sided love does to your state of mind.

A lot of people may have been hoping that this manga wouldn’t cross the line & develop the relationship between the main pair, but I honestly think there wouldn’t be a point to this series if it hadn’t. There may be jokes aplenty but love is not something you should joke about – that seems to be the message that is being driven home here.

My main concern about any age-gap story is the power balance, lest it veer off into creepy predatory paedophilic territory, but we see time and again the roles being reversed as Kusanagi-sensei cedes (or rather struggles to take) control to Hime-chan. Don’t be fooled by the tankoubon covers: it’s not provocative nor a case of one bullying the other into submission – Hime-chan’s obviously a little childish at times despite her determination to act more mature, while Kusanagi-sensei’s insecurities belie her cool exterior and devilish reputation amongst students.

For the first 200 or so chapters (? pages?) proceedings are per your usual harmless student-in-love-with-older-teacher sort of comedy/slice of life 4-koma, but things really step up a gear by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around. Hime-chan ends up crying after Kusanagi-sensei admonishes her for sneaking chocolates into her desk drawer despite a schoolwide ban on V-Day gifts. Kusanagi relents and accepts the chocolates, reflecting that her indecisive nature is what has led to this impasse – she needs to deal with this once and for all; either accept Hime-chan’s feelings or stop stringing her along & firmly reject her.

Does Kusanagi-sensei truly love Hime-chan? Or is she going to treat her as a replacement for Yae, the way she (mis)treated her ex-girlfriend Aki? The signs are all there (like how she moans Hime-chan’s name when she’s drunk) but it is through a catch-up with Aki, as well as a conversation with her teaching colleague Arimura (who also has a crush on Kusanagi-sensei) where she ultimately resolves to stop making a martyr of herself and give love another chance.

And so Kusanagi makes the decision to come clean on White Day, gifting Hime-chan a box of macarons, which initially seems to disappoint her. Turns out Hime-chan was expecting something hand-made like Kusanagi had given her mother Yae in the past, but Kusanagi explains that she thinks it’d be insincere if she just repeated whatever she did in the past: Yae is Yae and Hime-chan is Hime-chan, and she wants their memories together to be unique and special.

Hime-chan notes that all this is making her fall even more in love with Kusanagi-sensei and she jokes that Kusanagi should take responsibility and date her…and to her surprise, Kusanagi agrees. BUT with a long list of conditions – basically, they can only start dating when Hime-chan’s graduated from junior high but no naughty business until they’re 18…provided Hime-chan’s feelings don’t change, giving both of them a chance to back out at any time. Hime-chan easily susses out that Kusanagi-sensei’s rehearsed her speech at home and forces her to redo her confession, properly. Ahh, they’re so cute~

Boom, the manga skips ahead 2 years and Hime-chan’s now in high school and they’re officially dating! But here comes a new set of problems as Kusanagi-sensei is uneasy: she doesn’t get to see Hime-chan much anymore since she moved on to high school, and she’s worried about whether Hime-chan still wants to date an old auntie like her. Hime-chan lightly admonishes her for this: she’s lived up to her part of the bargain,  waited 2 years and she really doesn’t give a crap about the age gap – her feelings haven’t changed.

The one that she does want to change though, is the fact that Kusanagi-sensei still calls her ‘Kubota-san’…she wants her to call her by her first name Kazuki. Hime-chan herself attempts to call her Mina…but this still reminds Kusanagi-sensei of Yae. Eep. Their first date seems to end on a sad note when Hime-chan reflects on how she feels lonely and regretful that time went by so quickly and lamenting why she didn’t treasure each moment they spent together more.

Kusanagi-sensei quickly realises that her behaviour is causing Hime-chan to feel insecure again and she grabs her wrist, drags her to a corner and finally calls her ‘Kazuki’. And repeatedly tells her that she loves her…to which Kazuki replies ‘Don’t worry, I never doubted your love for one moment.’

That brings us up to speed to where we are with the manga right now – they’re growing into their relationship, supporting each other physically and emotionally. There are of course, a myriad of possible problems that might crop up in the future: does Minako really have the willpower to hold out until Kazuki’s turned 18? What happens when Yae finds out? And so on. Kusanagi-sensei has so far managed to navigate every obstacle in a believable way, to the point where it’s got me 100% rooting for the main couple and I look forward to finding out how their romance plays out. Please stay together! (and show us what happens when Kazuki turns legal *chortles)

A third or so of the manga has been scanlated already so you know where to look if you want to sample this!

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite Vol.2

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite 2 (やがて君になる佐伯沙弥香について (2), Bloom Into You: Regarding Saeki Sayaka 2)
Author: Iruma Hitoma, based on original manga by Nakatani Nio
First Published: 2019
Imprint: Dengeki Bunko (Kadokawa)
Volumes: 2/3

EDIT: Yes, I am going to attempt to translate the 2nd novel. Chapter 1 is already done.

Barely 6 months since the first novel and the second one is upon us already. And we have, on top of that, confirmation that a third volume is in the works! The thirst for Sayaka is indeed, real. Jokes aside, it is incredibly satisfying to see a popular side character get the love she deserves after being thoroughly shafted in the series proper, and these side novels aren’t just an afterthought – they’re a whole new world, providing insight to the character and fleshing her out where the source material didn’t/wouldn’t.

Again, this volume is split into 2 major parts with a short epilogue at the end. The tone is lighter than in Vol.1, is less plot-driven and more like a series of vignettes from the life of Sayaka, high school student. The entire book is written from a first-person perspective, so it reads like a stream of consciousness narrative where you’re getting inside Sayaka’s head. Needless to say, Sayaka is not your most objective of narrators – she’s at turns caustic, vulnerable and self-critical, but also endlessly obsessed with Touko.

Note: Anything between ‘apostrophes’ is speech, italics are Sayaka’s inner voice. Gonna be a bit of a tough read (just like trying to tell who’s saying what in light novels), so bear with me!

Chapter 1: Love, and Koito
[Japanese title is a play on Yuu’s surname – Koi to, Koito (恋と、小糸)]

The one thing that surprised me about this 2nd volume is that the first chapter, which is fairly short at 30 pages, runs parallel to the events of the manga/anime. There are retellings of, and expansions upon scenes that will be familiar to readers and viewers but this time, from the viewpoint of Sayaka. The chapter basically covers Sayaka’s thoughts on Yuu in relation to Touko, and how Yuu’s presence changes Sayaka’s views on her own relationship with Touko.

Yuu joins the student council (temporarily)
We open up with a short exchange between Sayaka and President Kuze, the student council president before Touko one of her seniors from the Student Council. They’re in the student council room, and Touko hasn’t arrived yet. The senior asks Sayaka where she is – Sayaka feigns ignorance, but she’s also secretly pleased at being asked to confirm Touko’s schedule. No one else is closer to Touko than me!

Sayaka knows Touko is likely receiving another confession from another boy, and she knows the outcome as well – outright rejection. What Sayaka doesn’t know is that somebody else happens to watch those events unfold, and she doesn’t know said person will arrive together at the student council room with Touko (we see this from Chapter 1 of the manga!). It’s a girl, whose face is obscured by the sunlight streaming into the room, making it seem as if her face is dazzling. This is the first time Sayaka meets Yuu.

The girl I met in primary school who I haven’t forgotten.
The senior I met in junior high who I can’t seem to forget.
Nanami Touko who I met in high school; I’m certain I’ll never forget her in my lifetime.
And one more person.
Koito Yuu, the first-year junior girl whom I’m most aware of.

Sayaka is curious how this girl has caught Touko’s attention – sure, she seems reliable & capable enough in discharging her student council duties. Is there anything more to her? She soon finds out the answer from a pretty lengthy exchange between herself and Yuu when they’re alone in the student council room.

After brewing some coffee for Sayaka, Yuu starts asking her a string of questions, mostly regarding Touko.

‘Nanami-senpai isn’t the president, right? Will she be running for president? Will you (Sayaka) be running for president too? What kind of person is Nanami-senpai?’

Sayaka ponders the last question and decides to lie ‘What you see is what you get’. Smart, attractive, a girl gifted with both brains and beauty. And a coward.

Sayaka asks Yuu how she sees Touko – a mean question. ‘Cool, capable, beautiful, kind’, comes the answer, and Sayaka says that’s exactly what she is. Kind? I wonder. Sayaka, knowing full well how futile her suggestion is, tells Yuu that she should ask Touko herself if she wants to find out.

Yuu is not dumb. ‘Most people don’t seem to know themselves that well’. A statement that Sayaka scoffs at – no one knows me better than myself.

‘Is Nanami-senpai busy?’ Back to the questions. ‘She said she is, but it’s probably just another confession isn’t it?’

Yuu: Saeki-senpai, have you ever been confessed to?
Sayaka: I can’t say that I haven’t
Yuu: I see.
Sayaka: You see?
Yuu: Well, you’re as cool and capable and beautiful as Nanami-senpai after all.
Sayaka: You didn’t say that I’m kind.
Ah, I’m being mean again.
Yuu: I’m sorry.
Sayaka: I’m joking.
I’m not kind anyway.
Yuu: What did it feel like to be confessed to?
Sayaka: It was troubling, ‘cos you have to think of a way of rejecting them without hurting their feelings.
Yuu: (laughing) So you are kind after all, senpai.
Sayaka: It’s just being respectful.
Yuu: Senpai, is there anyone you’re in love with?
Sayaka: It’s a secret. How about you?
Yuu: Nobody.
Sayaka: Okay.

The exchange pique Sayaka’s interest. This kid is indeed intriguing.

Much to Sayaka’s shock, Touko picks Yuu as her campaign manager for the student council elections. What does this girl have that I lack? Is Touko starting to change, and is Sayaka going to lose her place at Touko’s side?

Sayaka visits Yuu’s family’s bookstore
Sayaka stops by the bookstore after school, only to find a familiar face sitting at the counter – it’s Yuu, who’s just officially joined the student council. Touko has explained her reasons for choosing Yuu as her campaign manager, but Sayaka isn’t fully convinced – if Touko’s making so much effort at being considerate of my feelings, that must mean that she’s hiding something…could it be…that…? Sayaka stares at Yuu but she still can’t put her finger on what Touko finds so special about the girl.

Setting her thoughts to one side, Sayaka starts looking for the book she wants. She thinks back to her attempt to read a Hayashi Renma book on the recommendation of Yuzuki, her first love. Sayaka purchased that book in this very same store, and in retrospect, Yuu must’ve been the young junior high school student manning the cash register that day.

Sayaka’s purchase this time, is a literary criticism* tome; she’s never been into fiction. At the counter, she asks Yuu what books a bookshop girl reads and ‘mystery, sci-fi’ is the answer she gets. Sayaka casually asks if Touko stops by the store and when Yuu replies in the affirmative, continues to ask what type of books Touko reads – despite already knowing the answer (reference books & whatever’s on the bestseller lists). I’m being mean again.

[[[*scanlations of vol.2 extras say that Sayaka ‘likes to read new releases and critique them’ but the second part appears to be a mistranslation of 評論系 (hyōron-kei). Hyōron means literary criticism, a genre of publications where writers critique (study, analyse, theorise, evaluate, interpret) other authors’ works. So it should be ‘Sayaka likes to read new publications and works about literary criticism’. If that sounds awfully dull then you should know that your girl Sayaka really is that bookish!]]]

Back home, Sayaka reflects on how she tried to change herself – even her taste in books – to match the person she was in love with. She’s not into fiction, and to think that she’s now willing to help Touko out with the play…perhaps she really hasn’t changed at all. She’d do anything for the one she loved; even if it meant turning into dust – grinding up her ‘self’ and erasing who she is. But Sayaka can’t think of what else she could do for Touko or rather, she doesn’t want to think about it. She’s feeling so restless lately, and she knows why.

Koito Yuu. There’s something about her – something that could be significant for Touko. And it’s threatening to shake the ground below my feet.

Sayaka has always been watching Touko, so she would notice any change in her. She’s been with Touko for a year, a year where she remained unmoved yet now, Sayaka can see the tiny hints of a change – and the catalyst is Koito Yuu. What does she see in Koito-san?

She doesn’t think that it’s good for Touko to remain as she is. Yet, the thought of losing her place beside a changed Touko scares her. Even though she willingly made the choice not to persuade Touko to change.

Touko calls her ‘Yuu’
This is another scene re-enacted from the manga and we see how Sayaka is shaken to her core when Touko casually tosses out Yuu’s first name. She actually breaks out in a cold sweat when she hears Touko say ‘Yuu’. This makes even more sense when you read chapter 2 & see how laborious the thought process was for Sayaka to come to call Touko ‘Touko’.

‘Should I call you by your first name too?’ I’m being mean again. Yuu tells her to go ahead, but she refrains from doing so. Thus, Yuu chalks up another strike in the process of changing Touko and the only thing Sayaka can do is watch on with anxiety.

Sayaka and Yuu’s ‘heart-to-heart’
This one takes up a sizable chunk of the chapter and is probably the one where Sayaka and Yuu address their feelings for Touko most directly…in a very indirect manner. Even though they both know the identity of the subject of their conversation, neither of them mentions her name and they talk almost in riddles and metaphors.


Once again, they’re in the student council room alone. Yuu brews tea while Sayaka does paperwork and when Sayaka muses that it’s tough being a junior lackey, Yuu retorts that Sayaka was a junior lackey too up until recently. True enough.

Somehow, it’s only been a short period into her 2nd year but it feels so much longer, and so much more fulfilling than her 1st year had been. Though she still feels like she’s on the verge of losing something…especially ever since Yuu appeared in her life.

Sayaka senses something is up with Yuu and asks her outright. Yuu remains silent, and Sayaka makes a stab in the (not so very) dark. ‘Is it regarding Touko?’ That’s the only thing that would worry her.

Yuu still doesn’t answer. So Sayaka presses on, cryptically.

Sayaka: It’s okay to fall in love with someone, but the distance always seems to be a problem..right?
Yuu: The distance?
Sayaka: When you keep a bit of distance from someone, they sometimes appear so very attractive.
Sayaka: You might try to bridge the gap between the two of you, and so you make your move…but now you get to see your partner from an angle that hadn’t been possible before. The scenery changes and you might even get to see what the other person has been hiding. And the things that you loved about them may start to look different.

The other party would surely notice that something had changed between them. And they would change in response – their position, their views of you. They might fall in love with you or lose their interest. Sayaka had been too preoccupied with her own thoughts that she had failed to recognise the changes in Touko early enough.

Sayaka had sought to be the one who stood at Touko’s side but Touko had not sought Sayaka to be the one standing at her side. She only discovered too late that someone else has bypassed and surpassed her in the bid to win Touko’s affection. And yet, Sayaka bears Yuu no ill-will – she even thinks of her as a ‘friend’. She knows it is her own fault – she has been afraid of losing Touko if she confesses her feelings, and she now knows that regardless of whether she confesses or not, she will still ‘lose’ Touko to Yuu.

Sayaka: Let’s change [her], together.
Yuu: (in a small voice) Okay.
Sayaka: Hmm…
Yuu: What?
Sayaka: I never thought you were such an obedient junior.
Yuu: That’s rude of you….

Yuu: Saeki-senpai, I think your responses are direct.
Sayaka: So they are. To be honest, I really can’t be bothered.
I’m crude because I don’t have to show the best version of me to you.
Sayaka: That’s just me putting it in layman’s terms…
Koito-san seems to have given up on embellishing her words.
Yuu: Saeki-senpai, you don’t choose your words carefully, do you…
Sayaka: I don’t, not for you anyway.
There are plenty of people for whom I’d have to do that – my family, my teachers, Touko. But with Koito-san I can skip the cumbersome process. I guess we do mirror each other that way.
Sayaka: You need someone like that. Or you’d get tired of having to maintain an upright posture all of the time.
Yuu: …yeah.
My junior laughs. She looks young when she does, with a natural air of cuteness to her. She seems to accept me as someone she needs for a similar purpose. It’s not as if I had not noticed it before, but I realised that I had made a friend.

Touko has changed, as Yuu wished for. Through the play, she seems to have re-examined ‘herself’. Sayaka doesn’t know what transpired between Touko and Yuu, but she has certainly softened. She has stopped hiding her weaknesses from people. Instead, her behavior hints that she has lost something. And Sayaka has a fair idea of what that that is.

Touko and Koito-san. I’ve known all along, and I don’t want this to end without me having taken any action at all. She once said to me that my presence pushed her to feel that she was getting closer to her own ideals. That she could do her best because Saeki Sayaka was beside her, or chasing her from behind. I was happy to hear that. I thought that I would be fine as long as those words remained true. But Touko’s ideals have changed, so I must change too.

And now, Sayaka’s time has come.

Sayaka confesses to Touko
Sayaka finally takes a step forward to confront the ‘true’ Touko, a Touko who has changed because of Yuu. Yuu might be the catalyst for the emergence of a Touko to whom Sayaka feels she is able to confess her love to, but from now on it’s her turn in the spotlight.


‘Sayaka, don’t. I’m not the person that you think I am’. Touko’s weak denial.

I’ve known that since forever. But right now, there’s no need for you to be the person that I expect you to be. You’re magnificent, and you’re beautiful.

‘I love you’.


Chapter 2: Parallel Lines
Parallel Lines, (平行線, heikōsen) – lines that run side by side and have the same continuous distance between them without ever meeting. [OED]

No prizes for guessing who the parallel lines are referring to…! This chapter clocks in at a lengthy 144 pages but honestly there isn’t much in terms of actual plot progress and instead, you have the pleasure of reading Sayaka’s mind going around in circles while trying to answer a very simple question: Why do I love Nanami Touko and what am I going to do about it?

And so, we return to Sayaka and Touko in their first year. At the end of Vol.1, we saw that Sayaka had fallen for Touko at first sight. We start off Chapter 2 of Vol.2 with Sayaka contemplating the flawless being that is Nanami Touko. Is it true that it’s impossible for a person to not make mistakes? I’ve been watching Nanami Touko up close and I can’t spot a single flaw in her.

The school year has just begun, and Touko, who Sayaka refers to as Nanami Touko or Nanami-san at this point, is already the object of many a student’s affection, Sayaka herself included. The one who owns such beautiful black hair and eyes, she makes my heart soar.

Touko makes no secret of her desire to join the student council and the infatuated Sayaka is keen to tag along – she’ll do anything as long as it means getting to be with Touko. The pair set off to find the student council room to state their intent, and they’re greeted by a group of seniors – 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl, a 2nd year named Kuze, is surprised to learn that they want to skip the trial period and join immediately. The seniors are pleased to have such proactive juniors around, so they accept.

After exiting the council room, Sayaka and Touko make their way through the vast grounds in the area that Sayaka had described as resembling the garden in her house: ‘You could get lost in here’. Touko, who’s fascinated by the thought of Sayaka being a rich ojou-sama, replies that if she ever did, she should call her and she’d come to Sayaka’s rescue. Sayaka quips: ‘I don’t pick up calls from unknown numbers’ and Touko realises that they haven’t exchanged numbers yet. And so they do. At the school gates, Touko asks Sayaka which direction her house is in. They point their fingers simultaneously…and they’re in opposing directions.

It’s been a week and cliques have already been formed within the classrooms. Sayaka finds herself in the company of Yoshida Manaka and Igarashi Midori, two girls who get on like a house on fire despite their differing characters. Manaka is extremely gregarious and a little tactless, saying whatever is on her mind without bothering what other people think. Midori is a little more reserved and though she won’t admit it, she and Manaka are a perfectly matched-up pair – almost like a comedy duo.

The trio spend their lunch periods eating their bento in the classroom, chatting idly. One day, Touko’s gone off to run school errands and on her return to the classroom, Manaka hollers at her ‘Touko, come eat with us’. Touko is reluctant, as there are no spare chairs, but Manaka easily solves the problem by vacating hers & shoving half of Midori’s ass off her seat so she can park half of her butt on it.

Touko’s keen to see what’s in Sayaka’s bento box but is disappointed to find that it’s just regular stuff – What were you expecting? Even rich girls want egg rolls in their lunchboxes. But Sayaka’s brooding over something else – the fact that Manaka called Touko by her first name. Much to Sayaka’s chagrin, she’s still stuck addressing her friends as Nanami-san, Yoshida-san and Igarashi-san. She doesn’t want to get left behind so she tries forming the name on her lips…’To-’. She gets no further.

Manaka’s antennae are sharp and she picks up on the issue right away: ‘You have trouble calling people by their first name’. And so, Manaka and Midori help her to practise. ‘Manaka. Midori.’ The two of them seem overly exuberant to hear Sayaka calling them by their first names.

It’s time for the first tests, which the students complain about since they’re barely into the school term. Unsurprisingly, Touko comes out on top with Sayaka second. Surprisingly, Manaka scores higher than Midori, much to the latter’s shock. Guess you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Sayaka isn’t pleased to have finished behind Touko and vows to work harder to surpass her but at the same time she doesn’t want Touko to lose to her. The contradicting feelings play about in her mind: If Touko was to finish last in class, would she still appear as alluring in my eyes? Sayaka reassesses why she’s attracted to Touko – the beauty of a Touko who’s standing proudly at the top. Would she still love a Touko who was weak? She’s not sure.

The current student council is an unmotivated group. Kuze-senpai’s never around since he’s spending most of his time at the kendo club, the 2 boys whom Sayaka and Touko met during their first time in the council room are mostly absent, another senior (gender unknown) rarely turns up, and it’s only another senior who does most of the work. Touko had something to do so right now, only Sayaka and this senior are in the council room. ‘It’s gonna be a tough year for you, Sayaka-chan’, she grins.

When Touko turns up, Sayaka asks her if she’s done whatever she had to do. Touko gives an evasive answer. There’s not much to do, so the senior drains her teacup and departs the room, leaving Sayaka and Touko alone. The mood in the room is awkwardly tense. Sayaka finally says to Touko that she has something to tell her, and they go to the bench behind the council room.

Touko: Are you going to confess to me?
I know she’s joking but I feel my strength draining away from me.
Touko: Okay so it’s something serious.
Sayaka: Serious…huh. Yeah I guess…you could say that it’s serious.
Touko: Okay. I’ll take you seriously.
Sayaka: Nanami-san….can I call you Touko?
Touko: Sure, but….is that all?
Sayaka: ….That’s all.
Touko: You’re so serious.
Sayaka: Did it sound strange?
Touko: Nah…I wasn’t referring to what you said. Saeki-san, you’re serious.
Sayaka: That’s just my nature.
Touko: So, can I call you Sayaka too?
Sayaka: Of course.

It really is amusing to read how rigid Sayaka is. Their conversation goes on, and Sayaka tries to probe Touko about why she was so adamant about joining the student council. Does she have a goal? Touko says she does, and when Sayaka asks if she can elaborate….Touko says ‘Not now. I’ll talk to you about it once we become official members’.

Sayaka and Touko are heading to the student council room when they hear sounds coming from among the trees. It’s a quiet, hidden spot that seems to be popular for students wanting to confess their love, and they’ve stumbled upon what looks like that very situation. Touko recognises the girl – it’s their schoolmate Serizawa. The two of them hide in the shadows and watch the scene unfold, and discuss it afterwards – looks like Serizawa was the one to confess to Oogaki-kun, another classmate of theirs, and he appears to have said yes.

Sayaka wonders if you can really fall in love with someone so quickly – it hasn’t even been a month since they entered high school. ‘It’s not a must for one’s feelings to become more solid just because time has passed by’. Touko asks Sayaka if she’s experienced that kind of thing before and Sayaka’s reply is vague: ‘In a way’. She doesn’t want Touko to find out that she’s been confessed to by a female senior before and gone on to date her. The resistance she feels towards opening up to Touko makes her realise that the distance between them might never change.

They debate whether to inform Serizawa of their knowledge but conclude no. Suddenly, Touko saya ‘Someone confessed to me yesterday’ and those words send Sayaka into a tailspin. She immediately seeks details: Who? Did you accept? When Touko says ‘No’, Sayaka can breath again.

Sayaka: How did it feel being confessed to?
Touko: I thought, ‘this person doesn’t have a good eye [to fall for someone like me]’
Sayaka: Touko, you’re beautiful.
Touko: So are you, Sayaka.
Sayaka: Huh?
Touko: Is that surprising?
Sayaka: Nobody ever really says that to me.
Touko: Really?
Sayaka: Really.
I’m used to people saying that I excel at this and that though.
Touko: Then they don’t have a good eye for people either.

Sayaka’s starting to see chinks in Touko’s armour, in the way she views herself. Would I still love Touko if I learned of her weaknesses, foulness, underhandedness, feelings of inferiority, jealousy, trauma, true intentions and/or superficial reasons for her actions, disgust and hatred towards certain things, obsequiousness, self-denial, prejudices and inclinations, hostility and malice?

Sayaka doesn’t know if she wants to know all about Touko – she’s afraid of finding out.

Kuze-senpai is the new student council President. Nobody else was suitable, and he had the benefit of a beautiful junior being his campaign manager. It was all down to Touko. Sayaka reasons that Kuze-senpai only desired the title to enhance his CV.

In the end, Sayaka and Touko are the only new additions to the student council. Kuze-senpai says he knows a junior who he’d be able to bring into the council next year…provided he passes the entrance exams and gets into Toomi East. Sayaka is aghast at the thought of having to deal with a younger, carbon-copy version of Kuze-senpai. He tells the girls they should do the same if they have any other junior friends coming to Toomi East, but Touko says she never really spoke to anyone younger than her while Sayaka reveals that she’s the only student from Tomosumi Junior High who entered Toomi East.

Touko wonders why Sayaka is at Toomi East since Tomosumi has its own combined, escalator system and Sayaka tells her the same lie that she told her parents – that she was tired of commuting. Sayaka realises that she and Touko are like two people who live in burrows and only stick their heads out so often to speak to each other – otherwise they just remain hidden inside.

The group hangs around in the room chatting, and Sayaka pipes up with a suggestion that they play a game of Rock Paper Scissors to decide who has to be the lackey – it’s something close friends do. Touko balks at this, insisting that she sucks at the game but eventually relents.

I observe her hands and shoulders and I cannot tell what she’s going to throw. Neither Paper nor Rock are written in her eyes. I realise then, that I don’t understand Nanami Touko.

Despite winning the faceoff against Sayaka, Touko proceeds to brew the tea for her seniors and Sayaka is puzzled by whether there was any point to their exchange. Watching Touko as she robotically goes about the job, Sayaka wonders whether Touko has any hang ups over the simple game of Rock Paper Scissors. Her behaviour certainly seemed a little off. All these little flaws in Touko’s character are starting to nag at Sayaka’s conscience. She wants Touko to share her thoughts with her, and considers what it would take for Touko to open up Trust? Friendship? Love?

All of a sudden, Touko says that she has something to say to Sayaka. They proceed to their favourite bench and start chatting idly about maybe going to have tea at a café outside the school grounds if they have a chance.

Sayaka: So, what did you want to talk to me about?
In my mind, there are only 3 possible options
Touko: I’ve been wondering….Sayaka, have you ever eaten fast food before?
Sayaka: ……………………………………………someone asked me the same question before.
Touko: Oh?
Sayaka: Do I really look like that much of a princess?
Touko: Yeah you do.

But that’s not what Touko really wants to talk to Sayaka about. The conversation drifts off to unrelated things – Sayaka’s calligraphy skills, Rock Paper Scissors strategies, Sayaka’s house and her cats. Sayaka finally presses: ‘Is it something that’s hard for you to talk about?’ and Touko responds that it’s something ‘strange’.

Sayaka: I promise I’ll take you seriously. I’m good at that.
Touko: You’re always frank, and I like you that way.
Sayaka: Thanks.
Touko: But it’s not something that’s very deep. You asked me before why I joined the Student Council. I joined because there’s something I want to do – a play.

And so Touko elaborates on her reasons without revealing her true motives. Sayaka really doesn’t get it – why does Touko want to revive something that used to be a tradition of the club and how did she know all these details when she only just entered this school? Touko asks Sayaka to help her out in pursuit of realising her dream and she agrees. But of course Sayaka knows that Touko’s reasons can’t be this shallow.

Another day, another delay for Touko.

Touko: Go on ahead; there’s something I need to take care of.
Sayaka: Another confession? At this rate, every single student in this school is going to end up confessing to you.
Touko: I always turn them down in the same way…I hope rumours don’t start to spread about that…
Sayaka: Wow, that’s a novel problem to have.
Touko: But I guess it’d be weird if I were to turn them down with a different reason every time.
Touko: When you say every single student in this school, does that mean you’ll confess to me too, Sayaka?
Sayaka: I wonder if I should…after all, it’s certain that you’ll turn me down.
Touko: You never know! Sayaka’s confession might be so charming [that I can’t say no]
Sayaka: Hmm, if I can’t find anyone else…maybe I’ll consider it.

They’re interrupted by Manaka and Midori, who have overhead the exchange. Manaka proceeds to mock-confess to both Touko and Sayaka (and gets rejected) before Midori successfully drags her away. Touko remembers that she has something to attend to and asks Sayaka to wait for her in the council room.

Waiting for Touko makes me feel a bit happy…I realise, that I’ve completely entrusted my heart to Touko. My heart is connected to Touko. Every little reaction from Touko makes my heart soar; every word of Touko’s, no matter how trivial, is like a raging storm to me.

Sayaka heads on to the student council room, but stops in her tracks when she hears voices coming from somewhere through the trees – it’s Touko and a boy, and it’s a confession she expected. What she does not expect to hear is Sayaka’s firm reason for rejecting him: ‘I have no intention of falling in love with anyone’.

Touko’s voice echoes in Sayaka’s head: ‘no intention, with anyone

Touko is desperate to realise her dream of having the Student Council put on a play, and alongside Sayaka, she seeks permission from the ever-absent President Kuze, who’s training hard for the kendo summer tournament. Kuze immediately dismisses the idea and despite his apathy towards his duties as President, the opposition he shows to Touko’s plan is rooted in rationality and logic. A lack of manpower, trouble with props and most importantly – no script. Kuze waves Touko and Sayaka off and returns to his kendo.

The pair trudge back to the student council room in silence, but the wheels in Touko’s head are turning. She reasons that the play might be an easier feat to pull off if she herself were president which means she could only fulfil her dream in her 2nd year. Touko is convinced she can do it in a years’ time, and asks Sayaka to devote the next year to her. Naturally, Sayaka consents.

What Touko needs now is an ally whom she can trust in.
As long as I can meet those requirements, I will remain by her side.
I have the belief that I can do it.
I believe I can do it.

Touko starts working harder at her student council duties and goes around visiting clubs, drumming up interest in and garnering support for the play. This extends to trying to find a scriptwriter from the school’s Literary Club – to her dismay, the members are only interested in reading and not writin. Sayaka accompanies Touko to these meets and something catches her ear during their visit to the Literary Club: as they leave, she overhears one of the girls say ‘Was that Nanami-san? I almost couldn’t recognise her’.

Sayaka is curious and senses and opportunity to dig – she tells Touko to go ahead & she returns to the clubroom, where she probes the girl in question and learns the truth. The girl was Touko’s classmate in primary school and remarks that Touko has completely changed from what she knew of her – meek, quiet, not particularly good in her studies and bad at sports. The Touko she sees now resembles her older sister instead…and this of course is a shock to Sayaka, who knows nothing of Touko’s family. She’s even more shocked to learn that Touko’s older sister died in an accident.

Despite knowing that it’s in bad taste to probe so deeply into someone’s past, Sayaka can’t help her curiosity. She gleans the info she needs from loose-lipped teachers and soon her picture of Touko gets clearer – she now knows her sister’s name (Mio) and why the student council play means so much to Touko. She knows that Touko is putting on an act to the world, and that she herself is one of the people being fooled. She’s convinced that Touko is trying to become her sister.

Sayaka finds a letter in her desk. Shock, some poor sod is planning to confess to Sayaka! Typically, she doesn’t even recognise the guy’s name nor has any clue if he’s in her class. She never thought it would happen to her (she even wonders if the guy has mistakenly put the letter in her desk instead of Touko’s). But Sayaka knows she has to respond and she turns up at the designated spot and rejects him. The poor boy asks the typical ‘Do you have someone you’re in love with?’ question.

If you asked me the same question a few days ago, my answer would’ve been clear.

‘I don’t know’

Sayaka’s wavering, aware that she may have fallen in love with an illusion, a person who doesn’t truly exist. The boy then goes on to ask her if there’s just someone she has an interest in, to which Sayaka says yes. Sayaka then decides to ask the boy questions of her own: ‘Why do you like me?’. Of course, the reply is ‘Your face’. Sayaka laughs inwardly. Same reason she fell for Touko. Same reason Yuzuki, and the Swimming Girl gave her. She puts a tougher question to him: ‘What if this face was fake, would you still love me?’. And the boy gives a thoughtful reply that surprises Sayaka – he has no intention of denying what she might’ve been in the past, but he’s in love with what he sees before him now. All he knows is what is in the now, not in the past – ‘you’re beautiful now, so I like you. That’s all there is to it’.

After school one day, Touko brings up the subject of Sayaka’s cats. ‘You’ve got three of them?’ Wow we suddenly got more cats without me knowing. ‘Just the two,’ Sayaka corrects her. For whatever reason, Touko seems determined to see the cats ASAP and Sayaka agrees to have her come visit the house the very next day.

So Touko spends the following day playing with..or rather, being teased by Sayaka’s tortoiseshell cat that has her running around in circles. Watching Touko’s futile attempts brings a smile to Sayaka’s face and at that moment she thinks.

How beautiful Touko is. Touko is Touko. The Touko in front of my eyes is everything to me. Whether she’s wearing a mask or whether she’s a coward at heart, she’s still Nanami Touko. Even if all of her is a lie, the Touko that I see through these eyes has stolen my heart away. Right now, I can say with certainty that I love her.

Touko comments that Sayaka looks different now – a lot more relaxed. She normally looks orderly with not a single hair out of place…a face that effortlessly screams diligence. ‘I like you when you’re like that’, Touko says. Sayaka vows to maintain that effort to make her dream come true. Her dream to remain by Touko’s side forever.

The summer holidays are almost here. Sayaka has things to tell Touko, and starts off by saying that she got confessed to. ‘Wow I never thought your turn would arrive!’ Touko then says she also received a confession the previous week. ‘….Again?? Really, you’ll have the entire school professing their love for you soon’.

Sayaka confirms that Touko turned the boy down with the same reasons again, and starts thinking about what she really wanted to say to Touko. That she knows all about her sister, and how Touko wants to become like Mio. It’s at the tip of her tongue.

‘Touko….’ The possible options are running through her mind like a bullet train.

  • I know about your sister and why you’re trying to do this school play so you’re trying to take your sister’s place so there’s something starting to grow inside of you.
  • It’s important to remember those who have died before you but to be shackled by their memories isn’t good why not try to be positive after all I am by your side and will happily support you so let’s do our best together

Everything sounds wrong. And so, Sayaka abandons her plan of revealing what she knows.

‘Touko….this is kinda jumping the gun since it’s still far off but…will you go around the Cultural Festival with me?’

Sayaka and Touko spend the Cultural Festival together, passing by the food stalls where the basketball club’s Serizawa is selling takoyaki with her boyfriend. They eventually get stopped by Manaka, who’s helping to promote Midori’s English Conversational Club café – the concept is, rather oddly, tea and ABC biscuits. Touko rather cutely arranges the biscuits to form SAYAKA but Sayaka can’t reciprocate as Midori’s screwed up some of the decorations and there are no Ks left (they had to substitute a こ in for a K by joining two ‘I’s together) so the best she can manage is a TOUIO.

After walking around some more they seek somewhere to rest and end up at the bench behind the student council where they briefly chat about their hopes for the following year. ‘I hope we get some good juniors coming in’. Their next port of call is the gym, where the clubs are putting on performances. ‘We’ll be on that stage next year’, Touko says.

Sayaka is only half listening to the music and half pondering Touko’s devotion to the play, noting that she’s slightly jealous of Touko’s sister. She doubts Touko will ever feel that strongly about her. She knows Touko’s disposition towards love is shackled by the memory of her sister; that she’s trying hard to be someone she’s not all for the sake of the one she cherishes. But Sayaka knows it’s not possible to become someone else. She reflects on her time in middle school, where she tried so hard to become the perfect lover for Yuzuki’s sake and ended up becoming someone she herself did not recognise. Despite the mistakes made and the anger and despair that she went through, Sayaka does not regret what happened – they made her what she is. Who she is. The person she has chosen and wished to become. Having been through such experiences, Sayaka is certain that Touko’s wish will never come true.

You are born as yourself and you can only be yourself. The only person you can act as is the one self you were born as. You can never take the place of someone else no matter how hard you try to imitate them, and that failure might cause you to despair. Touko will probably never be satisfied with the part of her that is trying to become her older sister.

Once again, Sayaka runs through the possibilities and outcome in her mind – what if she tells/does not tell Touko? What if Touko changes? Will she still love Touko…? And so on, and on. And once again, Sayaka decides to keep her mouth shut – that is the extent of her relationship with Touko at this moment in time; all Touko wants from her is friendship, and all she wants to do is stay by Touko’s side. She won’t rock the boat – now is not the time.

And so, Sayaka decides that she won’t change herself or Touko. They’ll remain like parallel lines, travelling on the same path together for as long as possible. And as long as long as they’re together… someday. Someday. When Sayaka feels Touko has changed, she’ll act. It’s cowardly, but she’ll continue waiting for that day. That is her choice – to swallow the truth and select the ‘wrong’ path of remaining by Touko’s side silently.

It is spring 2 years later, and Sayaka is now in her 3rd year. She’s been in the same class as Touko for 2 years running and now, she and Touko are stood in front of the bulletin board to check which class they’re in. Sayaka’s in 3-3 and Touko’s in 3-1 – they’ve been separated. Touko has a troubled smile on her face: ‘I guess we can’t be together forever’, but Sayaka reassures her ‘Touko – we’re only a short distance apart’.

The relationship we’ve built up will never change. Even if it’s not in the ideal form that I wished it to be.

Sayaka calls out to Touko again – behind Touko, she sees a familiar face. Touko’s eyes follow Sayaka’s gaze, and she sees her standing there. ‘I’ll be going now’, Touko says as she starts heading over to the girl. Sayaka swallows an urge to say itterasshai, mentally noting that the phrase is something that you’d only say to someone whom you expect will return.

Sayaka wonders when she had begun staring at (Touko’s) back – she had always wanted to chase her and line up side-by-side, but no more. She’s decided to put a little bit of distance between them and she watches Touko go.

Would I have remained by Touko’s side forever if the parallel lines went on endlessly? No – by meeting Koito-san, Touko was able to arrive at the crossroads. And she was able to accept the person who tried to change her.

Sayaka knew Touko was changing, but she had hoped that they could still continue to walk down the same path. But it was not meant to be. Sayaka ended up repeating the mistakes that she promised herself she wouldn’t.

But I only truly learned the meaning of (love) when I met ‘her’.

Epilogue/Chapter 3
This part is even shorter, coming in at a mere 10 pages so I hesitate to refer to it as a chapter. Think of it as an epilogue to this book, and a prologue to Volume 3.
Springtime has come around again, another 2 years later. It’s Sayaka’s 2nd year in university. She’s in between lectures and having parted with her friends, is sitting on a bench on school grounds and staring at the sky distractedly. The place reminds her of that bench behind the student council when she was in high school, and she reflects on those days – what she had then, is no longer there by her side. Now that she’s in uni, she’s reminiscing about her high school days; just like she reminisced about junior high when she was in high school. A cycle that keeps repeating.

This time, no regrets…but of course they do exist. Still, I’m satisfied.

The sun’s appearing and disappearing from behind the clouds, and Sayaka closes her eyes for a moment. When she opens them, she notices a pair of feet. Looking up, she sees it’s a girl – she’s surprised; she had not sensed the presence of anyone else in the vicinity.

Sayaka sees that the girl is crying – they’re tears of sorrow, not tears from hay fever. The girl doesn’t seem to have noticed Sayaka either, but eventually does and wipes her eyes. The awkwardness continues and recognising this, the girl apologises. Sayaka accepts, picks up her bag and leaves without waiting to hear what the girl has to say.

She heads to the hall for her next lecture, where she reads a message from her friends saying that they’re skipping class. Sayaka hasn’t missed a single lecture in uni so far. And so the lecture is about to begin..when Sayaka hears a sudden ‘Ah’. She looks at the entrance to the hall, where Crying Girl is frozen, having spotted her. Other students who’ve just arrived try to push their way past her but she remains rooted to the spot and looking lost, as if searching for something.

Sayaka continues staring at the girl. Lively hair to match a lively person, striking movement of her hands and feet, sprightly, petite body full of energy. Like a dog.

The girl finally heads over to where Sayaka and asks to sit next to her. Crying Girl then thanks Sayaka for what happened earlier. Sayaka thinks there is nothing to thank her for and ponders how people don’t like showing their weaknesses to others in fear of being disliked…and Touko suddenly comes to mind. Touko never allowed her weaknesses to be apparent to Sayaka and she’s enveloped by a sudden sense of loneliness.

The girl seems to be in a dilemma over whether to stay or go, but she remains seated there for the rest of the lecture. She takes out her writing tools and from time to time, steals a glance at Sayaka. Sayaka knows this because she too, is looking at the girl. And wondering why she was crying.

Sayaka’s reminded of Manaka and Midori – the type of people who’d immediately tell others why they were crying. The girl says that she never expected to have someone see her cry in her first few days in uni – from that, Sayaka learns that she’s a junior freshman. The girl is surprised to learn that Sayaka’s her senior; the mood immediately turns awkward and in response, Sayaka tells her to loosen up a bit.

After the lecture, they both hesitate to get up to leave and when Sayaka stands, so does the girl. She starts reeling off the reason for her words of gratitude earlier – her tears had immediately stopped when she realised that Sayaka had seen her crying.

Sayaka nods and she thinks that’s the final exchange that they’ll ever have, but stops when the girl calls out to her and invites her to lunch. She doesn’t think that this girl has any idea of how she should deal with someone senior, but eventually accepts the invitation anyway. The girl calls her senpai and Sayaka lets out a laugh…’Senpai, huh’. A certain junior comes to her mind right away – they still see each other once in a while, more often than Sayaka sees Touko.

We’re not that far apart after all – not just in terms of physical distance, but our hearts as well.

Of course Sayaka is still good friends with Touko and they can easily slip into old habits when they’re together…yet. It takes time for wounds to heal, and footsteps can never be easily erased. But, no regrets. She will always remember the strong emotions she felt at the time, which is far better than having these memories fade away and be forgotten.

The girl jars Sayaka from her mental musings by asking for her name. Sayaka thinks of her name, a name she now knows how to write in kanji perfectly well. A name she cherishes.

‘Saeki Sayaka’.

In university, and beyond. I might keep on making mistakes. Still, I wish to learn more about what it means to love someone. I want to meet someone. I am able to think that way, because of all the girls I’ve known.

Vol.3 announcement page

And here’s the final page, an announcement of Vol.3 that’s currently in the works! No release date as yet, but I’m beside myself with joy at the prospect of Sayaka finally finding love!

1. Author Iruma Hitoma’s notes state that he merely writes the novels based on what he’s read in the source manga so if the characters don’t live up to your expectations, he’s sorry. Also tells people to read the manga before reading his novels but “you’re not likely to be holding this novel – and a Vol.2 at that, if you weren’t already a fan of the series anyway”.

2. Nakatani’s notes for this volume talk about how she adores stories written from a first person perspective, and how that is not really possible in the manga format which is mostly 3rd person view. She’s enjoying getting to read about Sayaka’s perspective and thoughts, from the pen of someone as illustrious as Iruma.

3. The 2nd novel opens up with the exact same line as the first novel – This might come off as arrogant, but…

….and Chapters 1 and 2 of this volume end with the same paragraph.

I won’t make any more mistakes when I’m in high school. If I knew the reason behind those mistakes, they would not be repeated – or so I thought. I believed that I knew everything there was to know about love.

But I only truly learned the meaning of love when I met ‘her’.

In chapter 1, this ‘her’ refers to Touko. In chapter 2, the ‘her’ very likely refers to [unnamed] Crying Girl.

4. So Sayaka’s next love interest will finally be a junior. She’s already fallen for a senior and a classmate of her age, so it’s time for someone younger who will treat Sayaka like a queen – our girl deserves some real, solid love! The epilogue reminds me a lot of Hakozaki-sensei and Miyako’s first encounter in uni so here’s hoping that Sayaka-Crying Girl will have a similarly happy ending…minus the cigarettes and drunken kiss. Oh and of course, I’m also hoping Miyako/Hakozaki-sensei will get a mention in Vol.3…!

5. The novels are an Easter Egg hunt for fans of the series – you’ll recognise names instantly if you’re familiar with the manga; from the likes of Serizawa & Oogaki (Akari’s crush), and Midori & Manaka, to Hayashi Renma (Koyomi’s favourite author). Even that reference to Doujima, the unreliable Kuze’s similarly unreliable junior! And of course places, like the bench behind the student council building, and that hidden spot where everyone confesses their love…while the student council members hide in the bushes and watch.

6. If you feel exhausted reading my repetitive summary of chapter 2, do know that it’s even more exhausting reading Sayaka’s see-saw inner thoughts regarding whether she wants Touko to change and how she should try to bring about those changes. She thinks about it every few paragraphs and always comes back to the same answer ‘No I’m afraid of losing my place at Touko’s side’. Though I did like that crazy list of possible weaknesses that Touko might have. Try reading it in Japanese! 見えてない、見せようとしない弱さ汚さ卑劣等感嫉妬トラウマ本音建前嫌悪憎悪卑屈自己否定偏愛性癖敵意悪意その他多数の後ろくらいものの数々。PS. The list shows up twice throughout the novel.

7. So yes, Sayaka’s love for Touko seems pretty superficial (haven’t we all been there before ourselves…) She repeatedly asks herself what it is she loves about Touko apart from her being an ‘ideal, perfect being’ and whether she would still love her if she knew her weaknesses. She’s confident that she will, but we never get an answer to that because Sayaka never truly allows herself to learn about Touko’s weaknesses. She has had many chances to tackle Touko head on with all the truths that she holds inside but chooses not to out of fear of losing her place by Touko’s side and is certain that all Touko wants from her is friendship.

Regardless, Sayaka just knows she loves Touko – a girl who can send her heart soaring with a single word. Both girls appear determined not to overstep the unseen boundaries that they have set for each other: ‘Don’t poke your nose into my affairs and I won’t poke mine into yours’ – a fact that makes Sayaka’s and Touko’s friendship seem just as superficial as Sayaka’s love for Touko. But love makes us afraid of losing. And makes us do crazy things.

8. All you Sayaka-Yuu shippers will be pleased with this novel! Their bickering was amusing to read and they really bring out the worst in each other (in a good way), just like friends do. I love that Sayaka’s mature and rational enough to recognise that Yuu is not the enemy, even if she is her rival in love, and that she likes her enough (even if she won’t admit it) to let her guard down around her. I’d always thought that Sayaka and Yuu’s friendship would go the distance, and we see evidence of that in the epilogue/chapter 3. They’re genuinely compatible…as friends.

9. I laughed a lot reading this, more so than I remember doing in Vol.1. Sayaka’s struggle to call other people by their first names, the comparison of Crying Girl to a dog, Touko’s fascination with Sayaka’s status as the daughter of a rich family.

10. Does this volume change my indifference regarding Touko? Errrr….no ;;;; (She can have Yuu, Sayaka deserves better w)

Edit: I’m rereading parts of the novel (might translate some of it), so any strikethroughs means I’ve corrected parts that I screwed up in my first read through w

And that’s it. I apologise that this is so long-winded but Sayaka just evokes all sorts of feelings in me and I needed to get it off my chest ;;;;

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite

Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite (やがて君になる佐伯沙弥香について, Bloom Into You: Regarding Saeki Sayaka)
Author: Iruma Hitoma, based on original manga by Nakatani Nio
First Published: 2018
Imprint: Dengeki Bunko (Kadokawa)
Volumes: 1/3

EDIT: I’d translated the first 40 pages or so a while ago but stalled a bit. Just posting them up anyway to give you a taste.

A spin-off novel for the popular Yagakimi series has been released to coincide with the anime adaptation and I have to say, the timing is perfect if you read Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite right before the episodes that follow – episode 7, where Sayaka’s background story is revealed and episode 8, which will probably cover that ‘date’ between Sayaka and Yū. I wonder how anime-only viewers (and perhaps even some manga readers) view Sayaka? I’ve seen ‘scary’ mentioned a few times, and I’m not surprised she invites a bit of vitriol as the third wheel that gets in the way of Tōko and Yū. To be fair, it’s not much of a love triangle as Tōko shows little romantic inclination towards Sayaka and it’s too late in the game for it to suddenly spin 180 degrees around, especially since Yagakimi has been painted as a love story between Yū and Tōko right from the start. Either way, we’re approaching the end of the manga pretty ‘soon’ so I’ll hopefully come back and talk about the series a bit more when all is said and done.

On to Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite. It’s a prequel story, covering events before the manga and filling in the gaps in Sayaka’s background. We know from the manga that she’s from a well-off family and went to an all-girls’ school for elementary/primary and junior high. We know that she had a short-lived relationship with a senior who broke her heart. We know that she’s in love with Tōko. The novel expands on these points, and more.

Split into 2 parts, the first features a short story about 5th-grade Sayaka. She’s a model student who’s #1 at everything – she joins any and every extra-curricular activity she can take on in order to ‘get ahead in life’. This includes piano, English classes, flower arrangement, calligraphy. She takes swimming lessons on Wednesday, a schedule that is easy for her to remember (水曜日に水泳). It is during these classes that she meets ‘that girl’ (who remains unnamed ‘til the end); a dark-skinned, happy-go-lucky girl whose mere presence seems to mess up Sayaka’s rhythm. She never listens to the teachers, never follows instructions and instead, flops around in the pool swimming a completely different stroke to the rest of the class. Sayaka openly shows her distaste at her actions but the girl wants to be friends, making small talk whenever the chance presents itself. She’s not completely stupid though, sensing that Sayaka does not reciprocate that desire and asks her straight out if she hates her and if so, why.

“Because you’re always messing around.”

The girl responds not with words but with actions – she stops playing the fool and starts participating. And to Sayaka’s horror, she turns out to be the best swimmer in the class.

“I’ll take the class seriously from now on. If I do that, will you be friends with me?”.
Sayaka grudgingly agrees and allows her to call her ‘My Friend Saeki-san’, much to the amusement of the building receptionist who’s always observing their interactions. Their ‘friendship’ slowly progresses and one day, the girl offers to buy Sayaka a drink from the vending machine, where they engage in a lengthy conversation which leads to Sayaka asking the girl why she’s so interested in her.

“When I look at you, the palms of my hands get hot. They’ve been that way since the moment I first saw you. And then, my back gets hot too. I start to sweat, and the heat never seems to subside. I don’t feel anything when I look at other kids or other things, it’s just Saeki-san that does that to me. That’s why I’ve been thinking that there’s something about you. But I wonder what it is?”

Sayaka knows. But she pretends not to, and thinks to herself, ‘It’s impossible. Because she’s a girl, and I’m a girl’. The girl goes on to say that the reason she always hangs around in the pool long after everyone has left is because the water helps to extinguish the fire inside her.

Meanwhile, the teachers and other students are surprised by the change in the girl; how she’s so suddenly well-behaved. They wonder what happened, what the catalyst was – it’s a question only Saeki Sayaka knows the answer to.

Things come to a head one day after they’ve finished their swim – the girl has swum the fastest again, which Sayaka points out. She reassures Sayaka that she too, is a good swimmer and offers her tips to fix her swimming posture. She reaches out to touch Sayaka’s arm – but hesitates as she senses heat building within her again and jumps back into the pool, much to the chagrin of the swimming instructor.

Sayaka knows why the girl’s in the pool. And for some reason, she follows her and jumps in too. Their eyes meet underwater and after what seems like forever, the girl swims across to Sayaka and kisses her on the neck.

Sayaka’s description of the moment is dramatic: it’s like her heart has cracked –  she feels a sharp pain invading her body and she puts her hand on her chest to make sure her heart is still there. It’s the moment of awakening, to put it in a clichéd manner. “Like fireworks set ablaze in my eyes.”

Sayaka exits the pool as fast as she can, runs home and ends up quitting all her extra-curricular activities apart from flower arrangement.

In part 2, Sayaka is a sophomore in junior high, attending a school that requires a train commute so that it reduces her chances of ever running across ‘that girl’. She remains a top student and is also a member of the school choir where Sayaka gets acquainted with a third-year student named Yuzuki Chie who, like Sayaka, appears to be from a well-off family. Yuzuki-senpai knows little about the ways of the commoner – she’s never been to a fast-food restaurant for example, and gets flustered on her first visit, sticking close to Sayaka for reassurance. Soft-spoken and always smiling, she’s also the first, and only person outside of Sayaka’s family, to refer to her as ‘Sayaka-chan’ (without asking for permission, no less).

The third years will soon be putting a halt to their club activities to focus on their studies and Sayaka is mooted to be next club president, though she’d rather not be. Before the seniors go, the members propose a club trip – a meal at a famiresu (family restaurant), followed by a karaoke session. Sayaka is reluctant as she lives further away than the other students but Yuzuki-senpai begs her to go: she’s never been to a famiresu nor a karaoke before (but unbeknownst to her, neither has Sayaka). And so, Sayaka relents.

Yuzuki-senpai sticks close to Sayaka throughout the trip; they even share an umbrella at one point. During the karaoke session, the outgoing club president makes a surprise announcement – they’ve decided that Sayaka will be the next president. She’s still reluctant, but she has no choice but to accept the presidency and gives an impromptu speech.

Sayaka lightly complains to Yuzuki-senpai about taking up a role she had never intended to and her response is bewildering:

“Well, it can’t be helped. Sayaka-chan is the most beautiful person in the club after all”

‘….Senpai, you’re the one who’s beautiful’ is what Sayaka thinks. ‘What does beauty have to do with being President?’

The third-years depart the club, and Sayaka’s now president. She hasn’t seen Yuzuki-senpai for a while before she stops by the club room one day and asks Sayaka to meet her after school, in the courtyard.

The confession scene happens as in chapter 12 of the manga. Here, we get to see Sayaka’s reaction and her thoughts throughout the first ever confession she’s received in her life – how she feels both chilly and on fire at the same time, how her head tries to quickly & rationally process the words ‘I’m in love with you, please go out with me’.

Sayaka ends up delaying her answer. Once home, her head is filled only with thoughts of Yuzuki-senpai and she’s unable to work, sleep or focus on anything. This continues for a while ‘til her grandmother speaks up – sharp lady that she is, she knows something has changed in Sayaka – she doesn’t ask for details but tells Sayaka to ‘go for it’ as she’s young, unlike adults who are too spineless to do anything because they already ‘know’ the fruitless outcome of their actions. And so, Sayaka accepts Yuzuki-senpai’s confession with a condition:

‘I honestly can’t say whether I’m in love with you. But when you confessed to me, I didn’t…dislike it. So yeah, this may sound weird…but I’d like a trial period to date you. I’d like to know more about you’.

‘I’d always admired this kind of thing, Sayaka-chan’. Once again, Yuzuki-senpai provides a most bizarre response, which Sayaka dismisses as being part of her ‘weird personality’.

It all seems one-sided at first. Yuzuki-senpai’s the one who’s eager to know more about Sayaka, asking to meet her by the fountain in the courtyard during lunch breaks every day, and after school if possible. Over time, Sayaka learns a little more about Yuzuki-senpai; like her love for macabre mystery novels (Yū’s family bookstore makes a cameo appearance at this point in the story). She finds out Yuzuki’s likes and preferences in order to become more like her ideal. Playing the part of Yuzuki-senpai’s perfect lover, so that she can continue to love her.

Their relationship continues. Mostly, they just enjoy spending time together. Even other students notice that Sayaka’s always dashing off during lunch with a happy look on her face, and you can see how she gradually starts to fall in love with Yuzuki, even if she herself doesn’t realize it. When she’s at home one day, the house phone rings and her grandma picks up – ‘It’s a senior looking for you, Sayaka-chan. Someone called Yuzuki-senpai’. Sayaka is surprised – she never gave Yuzuki her phone number.

‘That’s another one of the things I’d always wanted to do – call and talk to my lover on the phone’.

A while later, Sayaka and Yuzuki-senpai are in the courtyard again.

‘I’d like to try kissing you, Sayaka-chan’
‘Is that another one of those things you admire and want to try doing?’
‘Don’t you want to?’
‘Honestly, I’ve never thought about it…would you like to try it?’
‘It’s definitely going to be wonderful’.

And so they kiss. For Sayaka, it provides a moment of clarity regarding her feelings. Her vision blurs, she feels like she’s melting into the kiss and becoming one with Yuzuki-senpai. Her heart’s beating violently; she can hear nothing but her pulse ringing in her ears.

But we see Yuzuki-senpai reacting differently, something that Sayaka is blind to at that very moment. Yuzuki merely feels a little embarrassed and when Sayaka declares ‘I am sure right now, that I love you’, her response is telling.

‘Ah..I see. (under her breath) that’s troubling’

The months pass, and they continue seeing each other. Sayaka’s whole life now revolves around Yuzuki-senpai. On graduation day, they meet again in the courtyard and talk for a while – Yuzuki seems distracted, distant. They kiss, and part with a casual ‘See you later’.

Yuzuki-senpai’s moving on to high school, but stays in the same school compound as they attend a combined institution. After months of fretting at not being able to meet Yuzuki, Sayaka decides to skip club activities & goes and waits outside the high school gates. Fortunately, she does manage to see Yuzuki and asks for her mobile phone number – they’re both allowed phones now, unlike in the previous year. There’s a feeling of dread that gnaws at Sayaka as Yuzuki appears reluctant to give out her number, instead asking Sayaka for hers.

Sayaka waits restlessly for Yuzuki to call her, which she eventually does. She realizes they have nothing to say to each other on the phone, and the call ends pretty quickly. Sayaka remains uneasy, but there is still that slight sense of security in knowing that Yuzuki-senpai is just a phone call away. The calls are infrequent and Sayaka lacks the courage to ask Yuzuki out on a date. When she eventually does, Yuzuki brushes her off by saying she’s tied up over the summer with classes.

One day, out of the blue, Yuzuki-senpai calls Sayaka and asks to meet after school in the courtyard. They meet, and Yuzuki dumps her as in the manga:

‘We’re not kids any more. Umm…uhh…let’s stop pretending, playing around at being lovers. I guess I just wasn’t thinking straight at that moment…after all, we’re both girls….right?’

‘I see’.

Wasn’t thinking straight. Playing around. Both girls.

Yuzuki’s words play over in her mind, and the overwhelming emotion that Sayaka feels is anger. She thinks the situation over and all she comes up with is darkness. Yuzuki is, or was her world – everything she does and the person whom she is now; it is all for, and because of Yuzuki-senpai. Without Yuzuki, she feels worthless and she cannot even remember who she was before she met her. It’s as if she’s thrown away an entire year for nothing, neglecting her studies, friends and family in the process.

The one word that jumps out from the darkness is ‘failure’. For Sayaka, someone who is used to being No.1, the breakdown of their relationship is an abject failure on her part. She saw the signs, she should’ve known that it would turn out this way – but she just chose to turn a blind eye, to have faith in a senpai who was becoming more distant by the day.

For Sayaka, it could only be Yuzuki-senpai and no one else. For Yuzuki, she only wanted a lover with whom she could ‘do the things she admired’. She wasn’t in love with Sayaka, she was in love with the idea of love itself. She’d tasted it and had her fill. Playtime was over.

And so, Sayaka deletes Yuzuki’s number from her phone. As when she pressed her parents to allow her to drop all her extra-curricular classes during primary school, Sayaka asks once again, that she be permitted to change her choice of high school on the pretext of not wanting to commute any further. She chooses a co-ed school, determined to forget Yuzuki and promising herself that she would not allow her ‘failures’ to be repeated. She has no time for trivial matters like love.

But all that changes the moment she lays her eyes on the first-year representative during the entrance ceremony – a girl named Nanami Tōko. Her heart is shaken to the core, once again. She seeks Tōko out, and they exchange pleasantries. Tōko declares that she intends to join the student council, and asks Sayaka to do the same, even though they’ve only just met and barely know each other. ‘You look diligent’, Tōko says. It reminds Sayaka of how Yuzuki-senpai invited her to join the school choir in a similar manner.

She should be trying to forget the scars and the pain within her heart, but it looks like the cycle will repeat itself.

‘I never learn from my mistakes’. She smiles inwardly.

But it’s not about trying to understand, nor is it about giving up.
What there is, is an acceptance within myself.
That I can only fall in love with girls.


Quick thoughts & observations

1//I was a little apprehensive at first about the idea of another person, even someone as distinguished as Iruma, delving into the Yagakimi universe – Nakatani herself mentioned her own reservations in the afterword, but I thought Iruma captured the essence of Sayaka very well.

2//しんどい [shindoi, trans. weary, tiring, draining]. That’s pretty much the one phrase that’s most frequently used to describe this novel and I agree. I have a soft spot for broken characters like Sayaka, whose lives seem to be nothing but one big disappointment after another (refer: Kuzu no Honkai’s Ecchan); 報われない [mukuwarenai, trans. thankless, unreciprocated] characters that never get the rewards that they deserve. She tries to go through the doors of life only to find that they slam shut on her, and the moment she finds one that’s open she runs through only to hit a brick wall.

There’s a similar analogy involving walls that Iruma uses in the novel when describing Sayaka’s train of thought as she processes Yuzuki-senpai’s confession – they’re both girls and that is a wall in itself. A wall that is harder than the wall in their classroom, that you’d break your nose on if you were to run into it. But Sayaka doesn’t turn away from that wall and instead heeds her grandma’s advice to give it a shot even if the outcome may not be what she hoped for.

That tenacity and determination is part of what I love about Sayaka. She has the guts to follow through with the toughest of deicision despite knowing that she might be setting off a landmine. But she doesn’t regret what happened with Yuzuki-senpai. After all, the sequence of events that follows, heartbreak included, is what eventually leads her to Tōko (let’s forget about the heartbreak that’s to come…)

3//By the way, I love Sayaka’s granny. She’s a tough cookie and also extremely wise, dishing out advice and keeping all of Sayaka’s secrets for her. You can’t hide from granny, she knows it all.

4//We’ve only seen fragments of Sayaka through the manga and anime but the novel expands on those scraps – 5 pages of chapter 12 turned into 200+ pages worth of story here. I love how we get a glimpse into Sayaka’s mind and how she analyzes whatever situation is at hand – she’s clear-headed, very matter-of-fact and thorough about everything.

・Why is senpai so interested in me?
・Why did she confess to me?
・What is it about me that she likes?
・What would happen if I said yes?

Sayaka writes all the questions in her head, answers them herself, comes to a conclusion and acts upon that information. I wish I was that smart when I was 14….

5//Like Tōko, Sayaka is always pretending to be someone she’s not. Unlike Tōko, Sayaka has no role model to rely on. Instead, she studies & learns, and plays her part. Throughout the manga we get to learn what the real Tōko is like, and in this novel we learn what Sayaka truly is like. And it’s closer to the Sayaka that she shows Yū – sharp tongue, but good at heart.

6//It’s nice, as a manga reader, to recognize the little things Iruma-sensei picked up on. The part where Sayaka runs through a list of possible reasons why Yuzuki-senpai might like her at all is a bit of deja vu. ‘My face, my style? My aura. my hair?’ It’s similar to when Miyako asks Sayaka why she likes Tōko (manga chapter 12) and her first answer is ‘Her face?’ Which is obviously true, since all it took was a single glance at Tōko during the entrance ceremony and all thoughts of ‘I’M NE’ER GONNA FALL IN LOVE EVER EVER’ flew straight out the window. Miyako also tells Sayaka that she’s a ‘good girl’, something Yuzuki-senpai repeatedly said throughout the novel. In chapter 14 Sayaka mentions that she goes to family restaurants and karaoke ‘all the time’ – but that’s probably a lie now that the novel tells us it happened once. And through the novel, we know that Sayaka has conditioned herself to be able to tell small white lies.

7//Surprisingly, hidoi senpai (I call her that ‘cos Kayano Ai says so) is not as bad as I’d imagined…well, apart from the way she dumped Sayaka. She could see Sayaka was infatuated with her & shouldn’t have let it drag on for as long as it did. But she didn’t treat Sayaka too shabbily throughout their relationship.

8//I don’t really see the novel as The Chronicles of Saeki Sayaka’s Heartbreak(s). I’d like to be more optimistic and see it as her coming-of-age, and coming-out-of-the-closet story.

9//Iruma mentions in his notes that he’d love to write a continuation of the story but that it’s not up to him alone. I’d like to read more from Sayaka’s POV too…! (and Rei-chan, and Maki-kun…..)

10//I will never forget how to write the kanji for 一瞥 (ichibetsu, glimpse) now. I should’ve kept a counter on how often Iruma used that word.

11//It’s so nice to be able to read this novel with Kayano Ai’s voice playing in my head!

That’s it for hot takes – no doubt I’ll start thinking ‘Oh crap I should’ve mentioned that!’ as I reread the novel and watch the anime….that’ll go on Twitter, I suppose.


Author: Saburouta
First Published: 2012
Serialization: Comic Yuri Hime (Ichijinsha)
Volumes: 10 (complete)

After 41 chapters over 5 & 1/2 stop-start years, the rollercoaster ride is over. I can’t even say if it was too long or too short; just that the end came swiftly and cleanly like a guillotine right through the neck. Probably not the best metaphor I could’ve used, but really – those 2.5 pages that fast-forwarded through scenarios could conceivably have taken up another few dozen chapters of angst-riddled drama in another editor’s world so in some ways, I should be grateful that Saburouta-sensei & Tantō Henshū-san showed mercy and spared us from more travails down paths tortuous and painful just to get to an end that we all knew was coming. A corny, happy ending.

For me, three things needed to happen in this final chapter. Mei has to be true to her feelings, Mei has to confess her love to Yuzu verbally, and the wedding has to happen. Which they all did…sort of. Clearly Mei’s not going to suddenly have a personality transplant and be shouting her love for Yuzu from the rooftops, so what we did end up getting is satisfying from my point of view. That traditional tsundere retort of ‘I hate you!’ (but in reality I do love you ‘cos I’m saying that with tears streaming down my face), Mei’s subtle admission that she couldn’t bear merely being Yuzu’s sister, an off-the-cuff proposal by Yuzu plus a repeat of that situation where Mei pushes Yuzu down for some action but this time, she does what she failed (in Yuzu’s eyes) to do the last time around – reaffirm her feelings of love and that yes, she does want to do whatever she’s going to do. And oh, the wedding with all the major players present. Can’t quite tell how far in the timeline that happened, but perhaps the spin-off will shed some light on that.

Yes, a spin-off that’s coming in the winter! The only hint as to its contents can be found within the hime cafe column in this month’s Yuri Hime where Saburouta-sensei and her editor Bain act as commentators as they go through the fan letters and questions. Saburouta’s reply to a reader writing in saying that they came to love yuri because of the citrus manga and anime, and wonders what will happen to Mei and Yuzu in the future goes something like this:

‘I’m extremely happy that citrus is the reason for your newfound love for yuri. I hope that you’ll encounter many other yuri series in the future! I also hope that Yuzu and Mei will be able to have many new encounters’.

Her editor emphasizes the same point, noting that these new encounters are only made possible now that Mei and Yuzu are firmly established as a couple. Though the first thing that popped into mind when I read ‘new encounter’ was them having a kid…

I can’t deny that the colour illustration that accompanies the spin-off announcement has me grinning – Mei’s red ears are a key point, perhaps indicating that we may be in for some more hot-and-bothered moments featuring a docile Mei? I’d like some emotional bonding to go along with the sizzle and fire though; it’d be great to see something from Mei’s perspective (this final chapter had a solitary panel from Mei’s POV) and hopefully, some action on the Harumin-Matsuri front. Now that relationship would be hella intriguing.

citrus is obviously not for everyone – you either hate it or love it with nothing in between, and if you hated it at the start, don’t bother to read on ‘cos ain’t anything gonna change your mind so best be saving yourself from being perpetually mad. It’s a serialized yuri drama manga that’s both compelling and ridiculous, designed for maximum shock and feels and as something like Bakuman. would’ve taught you, it has a story that is pieced together as it goes along which inevitably means that we end up with disjointed storylines, retconning and convenient MacGuffins. All I was looking from citrus was entertainment and I must admit I often howl with laughter reading how people over-analyze every detail in the series and bitch endlessly about Mei – it’s really not that deep folks, it’s just 2 sisters who want to get it on with each other but they run into Chio-chan no Tsūgakuro-style roadblocks before they can get to the church altar.

The citrus manga was born from Saburouta’s editor wanting her to write something based around the theme of ‘sisters’. Saburouta herself favoured a relationship between ‘polar opposites’, which led to the decision upon the settings of ‘older and younger sister’, ‘gyaru and honours student’, and ‘from strangers to family’. I find it amusing though, that Yuzu was originally written as the younger sister – one can only wonder how different the direction the story would have taken then! Probably even worse in terms of Mei’s characterization – imagine, a domineering older sister completely overpowering her younger sister…as if Mei isn’t hated enough already as it is! Sounds like a typical shojo manga male lead, doesn’t it? Saburouta does take her cues from that particular genre, for what it’s worth.

It’s also interesting that Saburouta notes that her intention was to make citrus, a love story between stepsisters, as close to reality as possible – 15 years ago, I would’ve laughed at the notion that such a story could ever be seen as realistic but now that I’m in my mid-30s and seen/been through some pretty convoluted relationships, I can only nod my head in agreement. I’m not sure if it’s a testament to my own reality that the world of citrus seems fairly tame compared to my real life experiences.

I think people find it alarming when I say that Mei’s one of my all-time favourite characters and that I can relate to her and would probably make the same decisions she does – perhaps they’re thinking that I’m similarly broken and deranged, that I have unhealthy, amoral love for my sister (I don’t have one) or that I advocate (fake) incest rape or emotional blackmail to fulfil my own twisted desires. To be fair, it’s easy to see why Mei gets all the hate and Yuzu all the love.

Yuzu is a great romance story protagonist – the ideal one, in fact. She may be rash and prone to acting without thinking, but her intentions are always clear, open and honest, and she’s always up for a challenge, no matter how tough it looks. What I love most about her is that she never pushes Mei into doing anything, never demands anything from her – it’s always about what she can do for Mei, rather than what she wants from Mei. Mei on the other hand, is a closed book with half of its pages missing. We never hear her side of the story, she always receives and gives very little, she has no backbone, lacks empathy, she keeps pushing Yuzu away & disregarding her feelings, says one thing but means another; the laundry list of Mei’s faults goes on and on. There is plenty to work with when it comes to Mei’s character and most readers would feel it’s a shame that Saburouta never really fleshed her out, giving us precious few moments where she showed signs of changing, of opening herself up to the one person she allowed to pierce into her guarded heart.

But wow, Mei just sounds like a godawful person, doesn’t she? Which means I, who see myself in Mei, must be godawful as well. Asides from the fact that we kind of share a name (Mei is one of my Chinese characters), she possesses personality traits that I recognize within myself – how she internalizes her emotions, how she finds it difficult to articulate her thoughts and feelings, how she feels trapped by her lot in life, how she perceives that duty is of more importance than personal happiness, how she repeatedly chooses to run away rather from reality than face up to the cold, hard truth, how she’s just so darned hard to love. Though thankfully, I wasn’t saddled with a deadbeat dad.

Mei’s letter in chapter 36 is as close as we get to peering into her mind and much of what she wrote resonated with me, particularly the bits about her feelings of guilt, how she felt that she wasn’t allowed to and didn’t deserve love, and how she envied Yuzu living an unshackled life. I could probably write an entire essay on just how and why I relate to Mei but that would be perhaps, a little too personal for this blog. There might be some other time and place for that but what I will say here is that perhaps, some readers underestimate just how heavy the burden of familial duty can be for people coming from that kind of background as well as how alien the concept of selflessness and self-sacrifice for the sake of a greater goal must seem.

How could you give up your own love and happiness for the sake of upholding your family’s good name? In my mind at least, the sacrifice is easy to make because of what I perceive ‘happiness’ to be. Would I rather, for the sake of love, out myself (I’ve still got one leg firmly in a closet), bring shame to and be ostracized from my family (needless to say they are all homophobic to a certain extent), be driven out of my job (I work in civil services) and be shunned by my religious community (I’m a Christian) and society (I live in a Muslim country)? Certain people have said to me that if your family loves you then they should accept you unconditionally, or that I would feel liberated if I let the whole world know who I really am, but those words just sound like ‘false ideals’ to me [キレイごと, as Mei puts it in chapter 41] and it’s not a battle I have a desire to fight. To gain love, I would likely have to give up much of everything else that defines me as a person and I doubt that I could still describe myself as being truly ‘happy’ were such a scenario to materialize. Even sans love of the eros kind, I’m content with my life as it is now and find emotional fulfilment through other avenues. That’s not to say I’m not open to the prospect of finding my own Yuzu but at this point in my life, I’d consider that as a bonus rather than a prerequisite for happiness.

(Well, that ended up getting a bit off-topic, too personal and over-analytical – I think this may be the first time I’ve spent more than 15 minutes thinking about Yuzu and Mei beyond ‘oh god you girls are soooo hot now just get a room & fuck the hell out of each other’.)

Of course, Yuzu and Mei attain the ultimate happiness because they have the love and support of everyone around them, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing that. It’s the ending that lots of readers wished for and the kind of dream situation that few of us will ever find ourselves in, so I’m just content to revel in the cheesy, unbridled joy that citrus gave me after being put through the emotional wringer for the last 5.5 years. To experience that kind of feeling is after all, why I read fiction.

Now to prepare myself for more emotional shredding in Yagate Kimi ni naru and Tatoe Todokanu Ito da toshite mo. I live for the pain!