5 Centimeters per Second / Byousoku 5 Centimeter by Shinka Makoto/Seike Yukiko

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Seinen stories depress me.  Nearly all of those I’ve read or watched have left me wondering if anyone is ever happy in Japan. 5 Centimetrs per Second is no exception.

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My library had 5 Centimeters per Second collected in one big, fat volume which made me even more depressed because I could look at the thick book and think, “Wow, I read all that just to feel like this.”

The manga is billed as a love story between Tono Takaki and Shinohara Akari, but that’s straight-up bullish*t.  Not only is this story not romantic, but half way through, Akari’s story is dropped completely.  Instead, the manga focuses entirely on Tono and follows his “love” (more like lack-of-love) life with various other women he meets after his initial, seventh-grade crush on Akari.

I’m pretty sure the moral of this story is: having an intense romance when you’re young f*cks you up for life.

That theme is underscored when, after Tono is forced to move to some island he meets Kanae who falls for him hard, even though his heart is still focused on Akari (even though they gave up on even pen-paling after a few months.)  Her life gets completely and utterly screwed up by this devotion, too, to the point that, when, after Tono has gone off college and is living a depressing life as a salaryman, Kanae still won’t date the SUPER HOT SURFER DUDE WHO IS SUPER INTO HER (even though she’s mostly otherwise gotten her sh*t together).

WTH is wrong with these people??

I literally don’t know.  I spent the last half of the book muttering, “OMG GET OVER IT” under my breath.

I guess it’s romantic to wreck your life over some girl you loved in seventh grade?  No, actually, it’s not. It’s stupid. Look, I had some very intense crushes when I was young.  IT DID NOT RUIN MY ABILITY TO GIVE MY HEART AWAY TO OTHER PEOPLE.

I dunno, maybe the cherry tree (of the title, as supposedly cherry petals fall at this rate of speed) is cursed. (Although that doesn’t explain Kanae, whose life is also ruined by young love.)

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My take away: stay away from creepy trees.

Apparently, there is a movie. Probably the movie is not only beautifully rendered, but also POIGNANT–which I think is what this was going for, but utterly failed for me.  Also, could we PLEASE just stop with the message that after the age 15 adventures stop, and that everything afterwards is some kind of soulless compromise?

 

Not Love but Delicious Foods (Make Me So Happy) by Fumi Yoshinaga

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Baka-Updates tells me that an alternate name for this manga is Even Without Love, We Can Still Eat. I’m a little confused as to why that’s not the official name, because that sentiment perfectly sums up this extremely autobiographical one-shot manga by Fumi Yoshinaga.

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Dude, this manga is so autobiographical the main character is F-mi Y–naga, a woman who is described as “a thirty-one year old female who makes her living drawing men engaging in anal sex.”

Like What Did You Eat Yesterday? this entire manga is an excuse to write and talk about food. In fact, it’s a legit restaurant guide. The beginning gives us the whole this is a work of fiction spiel, but then ads, “But all the restaurants listed in it are real.” Each chapter ends with a location map, hours, and tips on what to order.

Not sure how I feel about this. I love What Did You Eat Yesterday? but not for the right reasons. I’m supposed to love the recipes and food shopping advice, but I actually tune in for the characters and the slice-of-life vague attempts at plot. (I skim a lot.)

I skimmed a lot of this manga, too, only I wasn’t often rewarded with much character. I found out that Yoshinaga and I probably wouldn’t get along. I’m a little like the guy she tries to date in chapter 7 who is like, “Yeah, food is okay, I guess.” (She dumps the guy instantly).

 I mean, I can appreciate a good meal, but I’m not a foodie. I don’t have the interest or the vocabulary to discuss the relative spiciness of any given meal or discern the various levels of… whatever.  Look, I’m already bored trying to figure out how to talk about how people talk about food.

However, there were, as there always is in Yoshinaga’s work, some gems.  Most notably, chapter 4, in which Yoshinaga discovers someone in her circle is an honest-to-god gay man. Literally everyone else knew. Meanwhile, Yoshinaga is all, “Well, I’ve met gay guys, but this is the first time I’ve learned someone I already knew was gay….”  They go get some foodie thing or other and then have this fascinating little exchange:

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Okay, well… so all my complaining? Turns out, Yoshinaga is well aware that what she’s writing isn’t very true to gay life.  Her friend forgives her saying basically, “Look, if I was offended by misrepresentation, I’d be pissed off 24/7.” Preach it, brother.

Kind of explains my constant state of incandescent rage.  *kidding!*

The back of the volume says that this manga is an “homage to two of the greatest things life has to offer: friendship and food.” And, for sure, it’s about food. Friendship? I guess I’d have been less cliche.  Really, it’s more like that alternate title that implies that even if life is kind of ‘meh,’ good food is a thing.

Very Yoshinaga, actually.

Kuma Miko / Girl Meets Bear – vols. 1 & 2 – by Yoshimoto Masume

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Comedy is a hard sell for me, but I found myself paging through Kuma Miko at Shoreview the other day. I know next to nothing about Shinto shrine maidens (miko) and I’m endlessly fascinated by other religions, so I thought I might as well take this one home and give it a try.

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I find it interesting that at some point this got translated to Girl Meets Bearsince even with my limited Japanese I know this says “Bear Shrine Maiden.” Possibly, though it’s not obvious to me by looking at the Mangahere site, that “Girl Meets Bear” is actually the title of the first chapter.

The back cover flap reads: “In the deep mountainous regions of the Touhouku area, the comedic story of the miko of bears, 14-year-old Machi, and her childhood friend, the talking bear, Natsu, takes place as Machi struggles to qualify for city-life with Natsu’s assistance.”

What’s important to note is that, while Machi really, really wants to go to high school in the city, the story actually never gets her there (at least by the ending of volume 2, BakaUpdates seems to think it’s on volume 7 in Japan and still on-going.)

Given the set-up, I initially thought we were going to leave shrine life and the humor would be all about a fish-out-water/country bumpkin lost in the big city (with a bear companion.)  But, no.  The joke is that Natsu tells Machi that she COULD go to the city, but she has to pass a series of tests to prove that she’s prepared… so we end up with jokes about watermelons (a homonym for the JR rail pass, apparently,) that go so far over my head that I’m thinking I should be studying this book myself, before I consider heading to Japan.  I almost wonder if some of the native appeal of this manga is that a lot of people can relate to how baffling life in the big city is.  As an American, unfortunately, the jokes are mostly just baffling.

Even though it’s comedic, you get a sense of life in the deep recesses of rural Japan.  We find out, for instance, that there might be electricity in a mountain village, but not gas.  There’s also another scene where the town councilman finds out that the old people in the town are expecting a ritual, but no one is exactly sure what it’s supposed to be.

Also, it’s just pretty:

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Wikipedia tells me that there was an anime of Kumamiko (as one word) that aired from April to June of 2016.  The only place I can find to watch it is a fan site, KissAnime. However, there also appears to be a controversy around the ending episode.

I’m not sure I’m going to actively pursue this manga, but I would probably pick up the third volume if it showed up at the library.  If for no other reason that I’m fascinated by the in-jokes I won’t get and the details of life we see.

Doushitemo Furetakunai by Yoneda Kou

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I found Doushitemo Furetakunai by using the search terms ‘straight seme’ on Baka-Updates. I sorted the results by release year, under the assumption that maybe things produced more recently might have decent art and a more modern sensibility.

What this does have, however, is a live-action movie that pretty much goes line-for-line (though having watched several minutes I feel like the manga does a better job with the initial characterization).  But, so, with this one, you have your choice: you can either watch it: http://kissasian.com/Drama/Doushitemo-Furetakunai/Movie?id=22485 or read it: http://www.mangahere.co/manga/doushitemo_furetakunai/.

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Doushitemo Furetakunai is a slice-of-life office romance.  Apparently, straight male Japanese office workers are very susceptible to Teh Gay.  I don’t know if it’s all that nomikai, the after-hours drinking, or what, but you really have to be on your toes or a drunken meeting in an elevator might make even the straightest of the straights change their tune.

Enter Togawa, drunk at 8 am, into said elevator, where he meets shy, vaguely-autistic Shima.  Apparently, as late as 2008 it was still pretty common for Japanese businesses to allow smoking in the office… sort of.  Or at least when Togawa smokes in the office, people put up with it, with only the most mild, “use the smoking area” admonishments.  (As an American where smoking is pretty much banned in most public spaces, it’s very off-putting to see both in the manga and the live-action movie.)

But, this gross drunken meeting is Shima and Togawa’s meet-cute.

I’m not exactly sure what about this we’re supposed to find charming, but Togawa does grow on a person.  Maybe we’re supposed to be shocked and turned off, so that later when he’s shown to be sort of a nice guy, he seems that much MORE amazingly nice.  But, Togawa is a classic red oni–loud, aggressive, fun-loving, and crassly charismatic.  I think I tend to personally gravitate towards characters like this (see: Renji from Bleach, Mugen from Samurai Champloo, Jin Tadokoro from Yowapeda, and a half-dozen others,) because they give me hope that my own personality wouldn’t be absolutely horrifying to the Japanese.

As the manga progresses, Shima is slowly bullied into liking Togawa. Togawa basically inserts himself into Shima’s life, inviting himself to share lunch with him, taking him out to eat… and then finally there is kissing and the classic straight guy excuse, “What? You were so cute I couldn’t help myself!”

The romance kind of sucks.  There’s only implied sex in the manga (didn’t get that far in the movie yet), so I guess the real heart of this story is Togawa’s backstory.  His whole family is dead–there’s suicide and houses burning down, it’s all bad.  Due to this, Shima doesn’t think that their relationship can be more than physical, but it’s very clear that Togawa wants a family, particularly kids (the Japanese have NOT figured out adoption and I swear to all the gods this is the only thing that makes me want shake my computer screen and shout ‘come to America, boys, you can adopt!’ Or Canada!  Get out of Japan and this won’t be such a f*cking deal breaker for you idiots!”)

But that would deflate the angst, so that doesn’t happen.

They do at least work things out and we get a love confession from Togawa at the end.  I’ll be curious to finish watching the movie version of this because, Togawa and Shima’s story is basically over in two chapters.  The rest of the manga follows people who seemed like side characters, Onoda (a bespectacled bestie who is the ‘straight’ best friend who is sympathetic to the gay romance) and a salesman guy from the place Shima used to work, Deguchi.

Helping Togawa and Shima hook up makes Onoda think about his own attraction to Shima, and he talks to his drinking buddy Deguchi about it, without realizing that Deguchi is a flaming homo.

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I liked their story a bit more than Togawa/Shima, if only because Shima was a bit of a crier, and that’s a turn off for me, as has already been discussed.

Anyway, in the Onoda/Deguchi storyline we finally actually get the scene I’ve been craving where the straight guy actually READS THE INTERNET for clues on how to do Teh Gay and pushes Deguchi to take him to a gay bar so that he can actually sort of absorb a bit of gay culture before instantly hopping into bed and being converted by magical yaoi sex.

Magical yaoi sex is a pretty powerful conversion tool (as it were!), but it’s nice to see gayness acknowledged as something a bit more than just sex.  I mean yes, for some people, the Gay Agenda is living a normal life with 100% more gay sex, but to pretend there hasn’t been an actual culture that goes beyond the mainstream house with the picket fence is disingenuous as well.  I mean, I’m fine not always having stories match reality, but that just means when I do find moments like this, small though they may be, I cherish them.

So, yeah, this one was interesting.  We’ll see how much more of the live-action movie I can handle….

Ato Hitoiki de Ai by Masao Sangatsu

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Ato Hitoiki de Ai is a collection of yaoi/shounen ai one-shots, which I didn’t realize at first.  I had actually been hoping for a longer manga. However, it is complete in one volume (7 chapters.)

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The first story follows college student Morimiya who hurries home every day after class to his boyfriend, Keiichi.  Morimiya and Keiichi have been living together for three years now in domestic bliss.  One problem: they haven’t had sex yet.

This situation is played for laughs, but there’s actually something very serious going on.  At first I assumed Keiichi was just asexual, but, by the end, it seems pretty clear that Keiichi is experiencing gender dysphoria.

When a frustrated Morimiya thinks maybe Keiichi has been dating him this whole time out of ‘kindness’ and asks to break up, Keiichi is in tears because Morimiya saw Keiichi naked the other day and assumes Morimiya is horrified by what he saw. I hit “horrified” and thought, is this extreme internalized homophobia or what?  It kind of seemed like that was the case because when Morimiya is all, “No, I love your body.”

So, they manage sex, but afterwards this happens:

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Seems Keiichi’s been reading up transitioning!

At this point, my ears perked up.

All of Keniichi’s hands-off, stay away from my ugly body stuff is making more sense suddenly.  And, I’m like, ‘awesome! gender/body dysphoria really isn’t something you see covered a lot.

In fact, there’s not a whole lot of manga that I’ve found that are slice-of-life/serious about being transgender outside if Wandering Son.

But, no… turns out that was the end.

Technically, we get a very weird passage in the next page in which Keiichi tells Morimiya that the reason he was reading up on transitioning is because Morimiya always uses feminine adjectives to describe Keiichi’s beauty, and–this the part that was odd–that Morimiya shouldn’t think he’s the only one worries about their relationship.

??

I guess this was the mangaka’s attempt to bring things full circle since Morimiya was a worrywart about whether or not Keiichi truly love him or not…?  I’m not sure.

Because, then we get this panel…

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Wait! Is it bad that I wanted more chapters so we could meet the trans librarian and find out if Keiichi is serious about transitioning???

The second love story in this collection happens between twenty-year old salaryman, Yoshimi, and his boss.  Yoshimi’s boss is a pain in the ass.  He’s forever skipping out on overtime in order to go out on dates with women he insists are just his friends.  But there sure are a LOT of them, much to Yoshimi’s dismay.

Finally having enough of this crap, Yoshimi tells him off.  After that, the manger actually starts to work harder and spend more time with Yoshimi at the office.

One night, by chance, they run into each other on the street after the last train has gone for the evening.  The boss invites himself over to Yoshimi’s place.  You’d think this would be the cue for hot sex, but actually the two men end up having a heart-to-heart.  Yoshimi suggests to his boss that maybe he’s having so much girl trouble because he needs to pick one.  Women like to know they’re special, not one of many, Yoshimi points out, while thinking ‘even I know that as a gay man.’

The boss slowly comes to realize that his special person is actually not a woman at all, but Yoshimi.  Smooching begins in earnest.  Hurrah!  The end.

The third story is a romance between two college roommates.  Ichisake, the upperclassmen, makes an arrangement with our hero, Suzueda, to share an off-campus apartment.  Suzueda dotes on Ichisake as a ‘sempai,’ and Ichisake shares his home cooking skills honed at the Italian restaurant he works at. It’s all going along very bromancey, until some of their classmates bring up how awkward it all must be for two guys to be living together and, like, what do you do when one of you wants to bring a girl home?  This gets Ichisake in a snit and he randomly decides to leave one night.  Suzueda tracks him down and during the course of hunting him down realizes that Ichisake is gay.  This, of course, proves to be a relief to all parties and smooching ensues. The end.

The last story was the weirdest one, in my opinion.  In fact, it made me start to research how Aspergers is viewed in Japan.  The love interest in this one, Amasaka, is certainly not the first manga/anime character who has made me wonder if they were on the spectrum.  (I’ve always thought perhaps Haru from Free! Iwatobi Swim Club was a candidate.) Amasaka, however, seems almost textbook Aspergers.  A prime example is, when Sashiki finally works up to making his love confession, Amasaka doesn’t get that it’s normal to reply in kind because “the fact that you love me really doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

And, you know, he’s not wrong, but there’s clearly a disconnect there.

Just like with Keiichi potentially being trans, no one really discusses Amasaka’s possible Aspergers.  Instead, Sashiki just kind of stumbles around figuring out how to love Amasake despite his “being weird.”

I really don’t know what to make of that.

Especially since the romance centers around how Amasaka really can’t take care of himself and needs Sashiki to make sure he eats regular meals and stuff like this.  Ummm… hmmmm….. yeah, just not sure how I feel about that as a basis of romance, especially when Sashiki feels as though maybe he’s raped Amasake the first time they have sex.

Yeah, that one is awkward.

The final chapter is a series of ‘wrap-ups,’ where Keiichi’s body dysphoria is played for laughs (hmmmmm… would rather have met the trans librarian, thank you, anyway), the gay sempai is a bit of a prude even though he’s the experienced gay one, Yoshimi’s boss’s idea of a first date includes booking them a suite in a hotel (kind of a player you have there, Yoshimi!), and Amasaka’s Aspergers is also kind of played for laughs though when asked if he was gay before he and Sashiki hooked-up, he says, “I liked you, isn’t that how it works?” which is both…. I don’t know, and actually pretty awesome, you know?

So, like with any story collection, I’d say there were hits and misses here.  I really would have liked more about Keiichi and some explanation for Amasake, but, all and all, the stories were sweet and a little bit sexy.

I should say that these were all clearly intended as ROMANCES, not hot guy-on-guy action.  What sex there is in this collection is very sparse, though there is ton of kissing and cuddling.

 

Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? by SALLY

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Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is the story of a chance meeting on a train. It’s ridiculous.  It’s adorable.  I’m so irritated that there are only eight chapters so far. I can’t wait to read more! (Baka-Updates Manga tells me that there are 46 chapters on-going in its country of origin.  NARGH, I WANT THEM ALL RIGHT NOW!!)

Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is so good! It’s everything I have ever wanted in slice-of-life!

It’s also the first manhua I’ve ever read.  Wikipedia tells me that manhua is a word used to describe Chinese comics produced in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  I don’t know how typical the style is, but Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? has these wonderful super-long panels:lets-take-the-train-together-shall-we-7848217.jpg

This style worked really well on my iPad.

I also really love the sketchy, yet clean lines of this manhua.  It has a web-comic feel that I found added to my general enjoyment of this story.

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But I think my favorite thing about Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is how sexually ambiguous the two main characters are.

We hear in the first chapter that Tingyu had a girlfriend. In the list of of his woes, he mentions their break-up.  Yet, of the two guys, Tingyu is the most metrosexual.  He’s the suit wearing salaryman with the glasses. His body type is slim and small, and modestly handsome

Chen Yuchen is the more rugged, student-looking one who wears trainers/sneakers to work because he’s a computer tech guy.  Yet, it’s Chen Yuchen’s office mates notice he seems happy that first day after the two men meet on the train.  It’s a noticeable moment, that comment about his happiness, because the reader really doesn’t know Chen Yuchen yet.  All we see is him thinking about hurrying back to the station to meet up with Tingyu.  So the change is intentionally set up as something that maybe even Chen Yuchen isn’t entirely aware of.

While waiting for Chen Yuchen, Tengyu runs into his assistant manager.  Noticing that Tengyu is anxiously checking the clock, the assistant manager assumes that Tengyu must be waiting on a date and gives him a broad wink and wishes him good luck.  Of course, two seconds later, Chen Yuchen comes rushing to the scene yelling apologies for being late.  The manager is well ahead, but Tengyu is clearly worried that their meet-up is going to be mistaken as a hook-up and over reacts–probably drawing more attention to himself than if he’d just been cool about it.  We never know if the manager noticed, but later the manger does seem to be coming on Tengyu….

It’s likely that some of the gay stuff is being played for laughs.  Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is listed as being in the humor genre, but, so far, the possibly of a romance between the two men isn’t being treated unkindly.

There’s one chapter in which a high school girl develops a short-lived crush on Tengu.  She’s smitten after he helps her report a grab and run.  Her attempt at a love confession, however, is foiled mostly by her own shyness, but also by the fact that when Chen Yuchen and Tengyu are together, their attention is on each other and not much else.

It’s adorable.

I don’t exactly ship them per se, but I’m deeply rooting for their friendship.  Honestly, I would LOVE it if the story became a romance between the men, but I would legit be okay if they just stayed precious friends.  All I ask is that the characters manage to make it to the end without some forced ‘no homo’ moment.

I’m getting really sick of those.

I don’t really understand what compels a mangaka to do that.  In Shingeki no Kyojin, Berholdt’s retrofitted crush on Annie that Isayama-sensei grafted on to him three chapters before his meaningless death was unnecessary at best and a deliberate poke in the eye to queer shippers at worst. There was really no reason to take time out of a manga about the horrors of war to have two guys that Isayama-sensei must know people shipped together have a long extended conversation of them both basically shouting ‘BRO I WOULD DIE FOR YOU, BUT NO HOMO!’

And, of course, I still have only white hot hatred for the married with kids ending of Bleach.  I’ve had to leave Tumblr for a while because seeing all the fan art of Renji and Rukia with baby makes me actually begin to actively dislike straight people.

The insane thing about that one in particular is that if you had asked me a month before Bleach ended how I felt about RenRuki, I would have said, “Yeah, it’s canon that Renji loves Rukia. I have no problem with that.” You could even look back at my posting history in Tumblr and you’d see a fair amount of re-blogging of cute RenRuki fan art.  I would have told you that my head canon is that Renji is bisexual and he absolutely can love Rukia as well as Byakuya (or Kira or Hisagi or Ichigo or whoever else I was pairing him with at the time.)

Now it’s so much harder to be cavalier about that stuff because there’s this backlash I’m seeing from fans who feel like if you show the canon couples with other people now, somehow you’re dissing their canon relationship.  There was one angry fan who posted this: “Stop making fanfics/fanarts with Ichigo cheating on Orihime with Rukia. I’m an Ichiruki shipper and it f*cking disgusts me. Renji and Orihime don’t deserve it.” Like somehow our fantasies and our previous ships or our work-arounds are suddenly on par with actual adultery.

And that, right there, is what’s wrong with straightening canon.

So, here’s fingers crossed that this cute, adorable manhua doesn’t suddenly get pressured to MAKE IT CLEAR EVERYONE HERE IS SUPER STRAIGHT AND ALL THE GAY STUFF WAS JUST FOR LAUGHS.

In all seriousness, I’m more than okay if these hints of romance are actually red herrings so long as, in the end, there’s still room for these friends just carry on being friends and we don’t HAVE to see them stand up at each other’s weddings–unless that’s treated as part of the story in a way that maintains their deep and meaningful friendship, you know? Because I could see this manhua ending that way, because part of this is about how maybe that person whose toe you accidentally stepped on is actually someone cool that you might like to know.

Just treat us queer fans with some respect, yo.

Ristorante Paradiso by Natsume Ono

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A josei, slice-of-life story about Nicoletta, a young twenty-something woman who has come to Rome in search of her birth mother, Olga.  She finds Olga at a charming little restaurant in Rome, staffed entirely by older men in glasses.

Yeah, that’s kind of the whole schtick.

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I picked up this weird little seven chapter volume and its companion piece, Gente, at the library I worked at today.  I almost put the volumes back on the shelf because of Ono’s art style, which you might know from her other work, in particular: House of Five Leaves.

The art takes some getting used to, but I decided to tough it out for the promise of slice-of-life, which, as I’ve said here many times before, is one of my all time favorite manga genres.  This one really embraces slice-of-life.  In fact, I found some of it so ‘realistic’ as to be a little jarring–the action jumps forward jerkily in places.  For myself, I could have used a few more scenes drawn out, but, instead, we get a series of snapshots of the action.

But, like with the art, I got used to that, too.

The basic story is about Nicoletta figuring out her life.  Even though she initially comes to the little Italian restaurant to cause a scene to disrupt her mother’s life, she begins to realize that her mom has made a nice life for herself here–surrounded by good food and interesting, kind people.  Nicoletta is particularly charmed by one of the older gentlemen servers, a man named Claudio.

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Thus, instead of bursting her mom’s bubble, Nicoletta decides she’s going to play the part of “the daughter of a friend” and insinuates herself into life at the restaurant, partly to get closer to Claudio, but also just because.

For the most part, that works out for her. She slowly learns the stories of all of the people working there, including that of her mom’s new husband, Lorenzo.

Because this is josei, Claudio mostly stays out of reach. There’s no instant shoujo love confession after two or three meetings. In fact, at first, Claudio tells Nicoletta that he’s just not that into her, but Nicoletta quickly discovers that Claudio still wears a wedding ring, despite being divorced.  Turns out, he’s still pretty hung up on his lawyer ex-wife, Gabriella, the best friend of Olga, Nicoletta’s mom.  Nicoletta steps back and doesn’t push things, but by the end of the volume they’re fairly close, kind of, mostly dating or at least enjoying the heck out of each other’s company.

Which seems like a pretty happy ending for josei, from my experience.

The companion piece, Gente, tells a series of shorts about backstories of the minor characters in the original.  Probably my favorites are the ones that feature Luciano and his grandson Francesco.  Though I did enjoy Vito’s backstory as well.  The others were fine, but not as stand-out in my opinion.

Apparently, there is an anime of this, available on Crunchyroll: http://www.crunchyroll.com/ristorante-paradiso.  A number of the reviews use words like “relaxing” and “gently-paced” which is actually kind of selling it for me.  There are only 11 episodes, which is also in the plus column for me. I may check it out and see what I think of it.  I really, really enjoyed Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, a historical drama, but which also had a slower pace.

What can I say? I’m an old lady.

Speaking of which, can I just say how amusing I find it that there are so many other reviewers of this manga/anime who have to take a moment to talk about how vaguely horrified/shocked they are that it features OLDER PEOPLE?

*gasp*

Old people exist!???!!

Yeah, we do. And, we have romances, too.  Maybe people are thrown by the fact that there’s a whole crowd of women who come just to see the hot older guys.  Probably this is a foreign concept: hot, older guys.  But think: Richard Gere and Sam Elliot.

I guess maybe the May-December thing can be kind of unexpected, too, but, as Nicoletta’s mom says to her at one point, attraction is like that–it can strike you in unexpected ways.  Olga is the one, in fact, with the fetish for older, bespectacled gentlemen, but the man she fell in love with is a bear-like younger man with a goatee and 20/20 vision!  So, you know, love is blind and can blindside you!

That’s amore!

Would I recommend it to you?  Only if you’re as fond as I am of slice-of-life.  Otherwise… maybe?

As an Italian grandmother might say: try it, you might like it!