Anime Preview: Kimi no Iru Machi (A Town Where You Live)

When I looked over the Summer Anime List earlier this spring, one of the shows that caught my attention was Kimi no Iru Machi, or A Town Where You Live. For one thing, it is romantic comedy, my go-to genre, but also, the character designs just stood out from the rest. Checking it out, I found that it is based on a weekly manga with over 230 chapters! WOW! That’s a lot of material. I also found that it is in the same universe as mangaka Kouji Seo’s earlier manga Suzuka, and shares some characters in common. I had yet to watch or read Suzuka, but it looked interesting, so I thought I would check out these two mangas and maybe watch Suzuka to get ready for the season. I am really, really glad that I did. In the process of checking out Kimi no Iru Machi, I discovered what I consider to be the finest shounen romance manga I have ever read.

Let me start by saying that Suzuka, while a pretty good manga, was seriously flawed. The characters were mostly two dimensional and their motivations were poor and sometimes totally incomprehensible. However, practice makes perfect, they say, and Seo-sensei certainly practiced his craft well. Kimi no Iru Machi may not be perfect, but it is certainly a great story, with amazingly realistic and believable characters, and just enough romantic comedy zaniness to keep the drama from becoming oppressive.

The most recent chapters of the manga had some information about the upcoming anime that made me feel a need to do this preview post. It turns out that the anime won’t be starting from the beginning of the manga, but at the “Tokyo Arc”, which begins at approximately chapter 80! I decided that, in order to help more people get the most out of the anime, I would write a preview post letting people know some of the details that will be missed by skipping the “Hiroshima Arc”, or at least letting them know what they need to do in order to get up to speed so they can understand the story and the character motivations. I feel this is important because, at the point where the anime is starting, the protagonist, Haruto Kirishima, is doing something that seems to be a bit strange for reasons that, without having seen or read the earlier part of the story, may seem a bit thin and artificial. He moves from his rural Hiroshima prefecture home to Tokyo to live with his older sister, who is a college student, and finish his senior year of high school away from his friends and family, at a school where he knows no one, in a city that is totally different than his hometown. Why does he do this? Well, this is a romance story… It doesn’t take a whole lot to figure out that he is doing it for a girl. The twist is that the girl not only broke up with him, but told him that she wanted to forget about the time she spent with him and his friends in Hiroshima, that she has a new boyfriend, and that she doesn’t want to see him ever again.

Why would a relatively average young man leave everything he knows behind to chase after a girl that dumped him and dumped him hard? It seems far fetched. However, as I read the manga. I knew that is what he would choose to do. It made perfect sense. It is what Haruto would do in that situation. I fear that without the background knowledge, people won’t give the story a chance, since the character motivations will come off as fake and strange. Hence my motivation to write this preview: to give people the story in a nutshell, or maybe a few nutshells. OK, maybe a large sack of nutshells, since it will be a bit wordy… But anyway…

[Before I get started, I want to warn you in advance that this is FAR TO LONG! I tend to get carried away when I get going on this story, so if you feel you have read too much, just click on to the next post. Consider this therapy for a romantic who is mourning over the fact that the early part of the manga will never be animated as it deserves...]

Options for getting acquainted with the story

Before I get into specifics of the story, let me suggest a couple of alternate methods of familiarizing yourself with the story. The obvious suggestion is to read the manga. To give you a hint at how engrossing I found it, I picked up the manga on a Thursday when I came home early from work due to some problems with my back. On Monday afternoon, still laid up with my back problems and having been unable to sleep due to pain for the previous three nights, I read the 234th chapter, the most recent one available at the time. I could hardly put it down long enough to eat. I was entirely engrossed in the story. The characters were alive in my mind and their complex relationships seemed like the stories of people I went to school with or talked with in detail about their problems over drinks. It was fantastic.

The second option, for those that don’t want to risk sleepless nights, on the off chance that it was the manga and not my back that actually kept me awake, is the two part OVA series that came out in 2012. Now, this OVA series is seriously flawed. For one thing, the main story it covers takes place in the chapters in the mid-60s, but in order for that to make sense, it uses flashbacks, shown out of sequential order, to tell the back-story needed to minimally understand the part of the story being told. This works, at least for someone that has read the manga. How effective it is for someone who hasn’t read the manga, I can’t say. In addition, the character designs are absolutely a travesty. They totally don’t do justice to the wonderful art of the manga. I rate the OVAs as “Good” but not great. Despite their flaws, they still tell a poignant tale of long-distance love.

Why do I love this story so much?

So, why do I love this story so much? It isn’t that it is novel or fresh. It is a tale as old as time: Boy meets girl; boy falls in love with girl (and vice versa); boy looses girl; boy pursues girl; etc… Most of the plot twists are telegraphed a mile away. (Though, on occasion, the story does twist on a dime and surprise even the most jaded of romance manga readers.) You can see where the story is headed. You know what mistakes the characters are making that will cost them dearly or the things that they are doing right that will help them win the heart of their love in the end. It is crystal clear who the official couple in the story is from the get-go, even if the character themselves seem a bit behind the curve. So why is it so much fun? Partly it is the art. Seo-sensei’s character designs and background art are second to none. In Suzuka, it seemed clear to me that he was heavily influenced by one of my favorite mangaka, Kōsuke Fujishima of Oh!/Ah! My Goddess fame. Seo bishoujo characters are amazingly gorgeous, with each girl having her own distinctive look that makes her stand out in some way. The men are equally distinctive and generally attractive. In Suzuka, which is a more ecchi title, he proves himself extremely adept at reproducing the female form very fine detail, with nudes that rival the work of Kaoru Mori. Kimi no Iru Machi is sometimes listed as ecchi, but it is light ecchi at best, and any nude scenes in the manga are drawn without detail (Barbie doll style, so to speak), however, it is a rather grown-up story, with the characters progressing on to college and adulthood. So if you are shy about such things or too young to be reading manga with nudity, please keep that in mind.

The background art is generally amazing. The city scenes range from impressive and majestic to quaint and picturesque. The rural scenes in Hiroshima are sublime, with some very fine scenes. It isn’t like the backgrounds are always fully detailed. They are frequently vague or merely suggestive of the basic scenery, but when he pulls out the stops, Seo is capable of some extremely beautiful, finely detailed art. It can be breathtaking.

But the main reason, if I had to pin it down, is the characters. So, with that in mind, I will start by tossing out some character bios for the main players, with a special emphasis on the ones that appear before the “Tokyo Arc” and may be less familiar when they return to the story, assuming that the anime is going to make it to the college age arcs.

SPOILER ALERT – From this point on there will be spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled, go read the manga or watch the OVAs, or just close this now and watch the show blind. If you feel like reading a far too long, but lovingly written ode to my favorite shounen romance manga, feel free to follow along with me. I am such a sap! Without further ado…

Characters:

Protagonists:

Haruto Kirishima: (Left to right: Manga, OVA, TV design, and close-up from TV design)

   

Haruto is a fairly typical romance manga protagonist. He is good looking, but fairly shy. Not particularly athletic, but very smart. Good at cooking, a bit of a neat freak, extraordinarily responsible, and kind to a fault. At the beginning of the story, he is actively annoyed with life. This city girl is moving into his house to go to high school in his town, she is not related, he doesn’t know her, and he is sure that everyone will get the wrong idea about their relationship. In particular, he worries that one girl will get the wrong idea: Nanami Kanzaki – the girl he has had a crush on for the past three years, but has never gotten the nerve to do anything about it. His best friends are Takashi Yura and Akari Kaga. They have been inseparable since the 2nd grade and are practically like family. Haruto has a bit of a sarcastic streak and tends to argue with Yuzuki, in particular. But he is hard pressed to turn down an earnest plea for help from any of his friends and it is soon very clear that he genuinely cares for Yuzuki, even considering her “family” of sorts. Eventually, the two become very good friends, or perhaps more…

Yuzuki Eba: (Left to right: Manga, OVA, TV design, and close-up from TV design)

   

Yuzuki is a girl from Tokyo who moves to rural Hiroshima at the beginning of high school. Her father grew up in the small town, but she has no relatives there. Instead, she lives with an acquaintance of her father, which happens to wind up being at Haruto’s house. She is bubbly and very sociable. The kind of girl that gets along with everyone. She is also a bit of a klutz, kind of flighty, and generally considered a bit weird by most of the people she meets. However, she is also devastatingly cute and readily liked by all of her classmates.  It is fairly clear even early on that Yuzuki has feelings for Haruto. However, she works actively to get Haruto together with Nanami, even going so far as staying in the bath at the local hot springs until she nearly passed out from the heat in order to give the two time alone together. Eventually we find out the real reason that Yuzuki moved to Hiroshima for high school. It seems that her mother died several years ago and her father recently remarried. She has a younger step sister, named Rin, and an older step brother. The step sister has a bit of a brother complex and sees Yuzuki as a rival for her brother’s affections. Because of this, she treats Yuzuki badly, bullying her, and making her life miserable. Her father works constantly and is hardly eve r home and her step mother doesn’t seem to notice what Rin is doing. To escape the situation, she decided to go to school in another town. But Why Hiroshima? Early on, Yuzuki mentioned that she had visited this town once when she was little and liked it a lot. The real reason is discovered, partly by Haruto’s sister.

Secondary Characters

Hiroshima Characters:

Akari Kaga: (middle in picture above)

Haruto’s friend since the 2nd grade, Akari seems to be a cheerful, energetic girl, but Haruto knows that she is usually rather guarded about her real feelings. Her father is Russian, which means that her blond hair and blue eyes come naturally. However, when she transferred into their class, Haruto and Takashi wondered if she was some kind of delinquent. A tomboy by nature, she had trouble getting along with people and she and the two boys argued and competed against each other in everything, with her winning every competition. When an three kids, including the older brother of a kid that she hurt during the school “sumo wrestling” competition beat her up, Haruto and Takashi foolishly attacked the three kids, getting thrashed themselves. When she asks why they did that, they respond by asking her why she didn’t jump in to help? How could she let her friends get beat up without giving them a hand? Her parents later commented that when she came home that day, it was the first time they had ever seen Akari cry, but they were tears of joy. She had never realized that the boys considered her a friend, something she had never had before. After that, the three became inseparable. She has a crush on the older brother of Nanami Kanzaki, and possibly a longer-standing crush on another person who is the male protagonist. Assuming that the anime makes it far enough, she will return as a major character when they go to college. (The story really has to get there or there isn’t a point to doing the anime…)

Takashi Yura: (far left in photo above)

Haruto’s best friend since childhood. Much of their relationship is defined in the description of Akari. Takashi is a fairly prototypical “perverted best friend” character. His family are rice farmers, he plans to go to Tokyo for college after he graduates high school, and he is clearly interested in Yuzuki early in the manga because she is so cute. However, it is also clear that he has a bit of a crush on Akari, though he never has the guts to do anything about it. (It is mentioned in the manga that Akari gave him homemade chocolate on Valentine’s Day when they were in junior high and he never ate it, but kept it in the back of the refrigerator for years. He “gets over” his crush sometime before graduating from high school, though. He will also be a major character again when the story moves on to college. (Most of the characters end up going to the same college, though not all.)

Nanami Kanzaki: (second from left in the picture above)

Nanami is the girl that Haruto has crushed on all through junior high. With high school coming, he hopes to be able to express his feelings to her and get closer. She has a reserved personality and is kind of the typical “Yamato Nadeshiko”. She loves cooking, is beautiful, and generally everything a proper young lady should be. If her hair was longer it would be the perfect fit. (Incidentally, her character design is almost identical to the title character of Suzuka, who is supposed to be one of the most beautiful girls in that manga, so this probably suggests something about the mangaka’s tastes in women… LOL) She has an older brother, who is the captain of the baseball team and the guy Akari is crushing on. Her family is one of the most wealthy and influential in the area. They also have an apple orchard, which figures prominently in the story in the early manga. She is clearly interested in Haruto as well. The disposition of their feelings for each other are a huge part of the early manga story.

Tokyo Characters

Aoi Kirishima: (far right in picture above)

Well, she is in Hiroshima too, but Haruto’s older sister, Aoi is a college student who lives in the same women’s dormitory and public bath house that the main characters in Suzuka live in. She is kind of immature for her age, with Haruto seeming more like the older brother than the younger brother when people watch them interacting, despite the obvious age difference. She returns home for a good portion of the early manga, first to do her student teaching at their high school, then for various breaks, etc…

Rin Eba: (second from right in picture above)

Yuzuki’s step sister, Rin comes across as a sweet, energetic girl to most people, but she lets her facade down when talking with Haruto, revealing the calculating and sometimes vicious girl who drove Yuzuki out of her family home to live in Hiroshima with Haruto. When her mother first marries Yuzuki’s father, she fails to connect with Yuzuki as a sister, seeing her more as a rival for the affections of her beloved older brother. This leads to her bullying and tormenting Yuzuki to the point that she can no longer stand to live in the same house with her. All of this is talked about, not shown in the manga, but there are several times when Rin displays her true colors to Haruto, especially after he comes to Tokyo with Yuzuki (which I will cover in the next section.)

There are a few other characters in the Tokyo arc that are important, but they have yet to be introduced in the manga at chapter 79, which is the point to which I am aiming this preview. It is when Haruto moves to Tokyo, blindly chasing after the woman he loves.

Plot summary of the early manga

As I mentioned earlier, the best way to prepare yourself to watch the Kimi no Iru Machi anime is to read the first 79 chapters of the manga. However, if you want to get a feel for the story second hand, I’ll write a brief (I hope) summary of the early manga to get you up to speed. [A Quick note: Most translations of the manga state at the beginning of chapter two that it is a prequel to the "love and sports manga Suzuka", but that is an error. It is a sequel, not a prequel. From the characters that overlap, including Suzuka herself and the person she has with her, it is clear that the manga starts approximately at the time that Suzuka ends.]

Part 1: From moving in, to “family”, to heartbreak and revelation…

At the start of the manga, Haruto is fuming over the fact that Yuzuki is moving into his house in order to attend his high school. This is a girl he doesn’t know who is going to move in and disrupt his life. But what he fears most is what the small town rumor mill will do to his prospects in love, since it is a foregone conclusion that people will speculate that the two of them are an item.

On the very day Yuzuki arrives, Haruto’s mother asks him to take her to school and show her around. He tries to avoid it by lending her the bike, but since she can’t ride one he has to take her. Each person that they see as the ride along, Yuzuki sitting cutely behind him, her long hair fluttering in the breeze, assumes that they are a couple. Haruto is mortified. To make matters worse, as they approach the local convenience store Nanami Kanzaki steps outside. The very last person Haruto wants to see him riding his bike with a girl in tow. Yuzuki quickly pounces, eager to meet another classmate. In the process of introductions, Yuzuki massively embarrasses Haruto by commenting on how beautiful Nanami is, commenting on how large her breasts are  and even going so far as to ask her what her bra size is! Haruto is mortified! After they leave her, it takes little time for Yuzuki to put two and two together and determine that Haruto likes Nanami.

Eventually, the topic of why Yuzuki came to Hiroshima comes up. Her reply is that she had visited the town once when she was younger and really loved the place, so she decided to come there for school, even having to live with a stranger, finishing with “Let’s leave it like that, OK?” For some reason, Haruto gets the feeling that there is something more behind her move. In retrospect, he wondered if that conversation and the feeling he got about her hiding something was “the beginning of everything.” A nice bit of foreshadowing to let the reader know that their relationship is bound for bigger things than just housemates.

Over the next few chapters, Yuzuki meets the rest of Haruto’s friends, humorous and embarrassing situations ensue, and the story moves along as a fairly standard romantic comedy. Time after time events conspire to put Haruto in situations where the people around him make the assumption that he is falling for Yuzuki.

Being new freshmen, the hot topic among the classmates (there is only one class of first year students in the school) is what club everyone will join. Haruto, wanting to be in the same club with Nanami, plans to join the cooking club, since that is the club she was in in middle school. However, it turns out that her brother, the captain of the baseball team, is forcing Nanami to be the team manager. So Haruto ends up in a club that only meets once a week and his reason for joining is not actually there. Feeling depressed, he decides just to skip the whole club thing, even though he is signed up. To make matters worse, he still has to wait around school for Yuzuki to finish with her club activities. Yuzuki then says something kind of odd to him:  “If you feel that depressed … why don’t you try to fall for me then?” She passes it off as a joke, then makes fun of him because she could tell by his blushing, flustered face that he was a bit exited by her sudden suggestion. They bicker as they usually do, but as she leaves, he ponders that, despite the frustration he feels, he also is starting to realize how cute Yuzuki really is…

Yuzuki then manufactures a way to push Nanami and Haruto closer together, inviting both of them to go to the local hot spring bathhouse with her. Initial jokes about using the mixed bath fall flat, but eventually her real intention becomes clear. Yuzuki stays in the bath longer than either of her companions, specifically so Haruto and Nanami can have some time together alone. It kind of backfires when, realizing she hasn’t come out yet, Nanami discovers that Yuzuki passed out in the bath. With the mixed messages he is getting from her, Haruto is having trouble determining whether Yuzuki is he ally or just a girl that likes to stir up trouble.

The next day, Haruto is running late and they argue all the way to school. When they get to school, everyone notices that they are out of sorts. Then, at lunch time, Haruto suddenly collapses. He is sick with a high fever. Even after getting home with his mother, he is worried about how Yuzuki will get home though. Much to his surprise, Yuzuki arrives at home safely, with Nanami, who gave her a ride. Yuzuki berates him pushing himself so hard that he collapsed, and proceeds to complain that the lunch he made tasted bad as well. Nanami defends him, suggesting that he has a strong sense of responsibility. Before long Nanami gets a call from her brother and excuses herself to take the call. While she is gone, Yuzuki steps up her complaints, specifically complaining that he put tomatoes in her lunch. (This is a recurring theme that is used to great effect later in the manga, after he moves to Tokyo.) When he has had enough, he yells at her and starts to say “I did that for you” but she cuts him off… with a kiss on the lips!, saying, “Sorry, I already know.”

When Nanami returns, Haruto is sitting at his desk, blushing furiously, pretending to work on homework. All the while wondering what exactly was going through Yuzuki’s mind, kissing him like that when the girl that she knows he likes was standing right outside the room. He is livid. After Nanami leaves, he confronts Yuzuki about it and she passes it off as a Tokyo folk remedy for curing colds, which he doesn’t buy at all. He accuses her of “toying with him” and of being the kind of girl that uses men. She denies it and in a fit of anger yells that from starting tomorrow she will leave him alone.

The next day, he still can’t go to school and Yuzuki tells his mother that Takashi is giving her a ride. Late in the day, he gets a call from Takashi asking what was up with Yuzuki today, she was late for school, in a bad mood, only had bread for lunch, and refused a ride home, saying that Haruto would be picking her up. Haruto figures out that she walked to school and was walking home as they spoke. He rushed out on his bike to get her. When he finds her, they exchange harsh words, he tells her he was very worried about her, and she breaks into tears, crying, “If Haruto-kun isn’t around I can’t do anything!!”

The quietly head home, Yuzuki sobbing on the back of his bike. Eventually she opens up to him and says that her legs hurt a lot and she was really scared because it was dark. Later, when he is getting ready for bed, she surprises him by calling him on the phone. He wonders why she didn’t just come to his room. She apologizes for making him come get her when he was sick. He says that he is feeling better now. She then tells him that when he came she was really happy. When she saw his face, she suddenly felt safe. He wonders why she didn’t have one of their friends help her and her reply is “I do not want to if it isn’t Haruto!” He changes the subject and asks why she was feeling down today. She says it is because they had a fight. He nervously says that it is all better now, because they have made up. Then she asks if is isn’t going to ask why she kissed him… He says no… he isn’t… He is afraid that if he does, he won’t be able to look at her smiling face the same way anymore. A relationship is forming that he doesn’t want to jeopardize.

Over the next few chapters, misunderstandings continue to pile up, including Nanami getting the mistaken impression that Haruto has one-sided feelings toward Yuzuki. Yuzuki starts doing things like trying to make lunches for them and taking more responsibility. Eventually, Haruto finds Yusuki, bruised and dirtied, trying to learn how to ride a bike. He helps her for a while, but then tells her that she doesn’t need to do this. She can just ride on the back of his bike. He thinks she is doing it to try to repair the wrong impressions that Nanami has about their relationship. She laughs at him and tells him he is wrong about her motivation. She tells him that the reason that she is trying to make lunches and learn to ride a bike is so he will look differently at her. She is doing it because she likes him, which, of course, was also the reason for the kiss. He reacts in shock and she says, “It can’t be helped, who I like is who I like, so I will definitely make Haruto-kun fall in love with me someday!” He isn’t sure if this was a confession or a declaration of war!

Keep in mind that this is only up to chapter 10! It is patently obvious who the OTP is from the beginning. The path to both of the characters realizing it at the same time is the joy of the story.

The story continues with another characters love life in the spotlight. Akari has a crush on Nanami’s older brother and asks for Haruto and Yuzuki to help her try to win him over. He agreed to go on a group date with her, but not one on one, so she needs Haruto and Yuzuki to “double-date” with her and Kanzaki-sempai. The result of the date, however, is Kanzaki-sempai informing Haruto that he plans to go after Yuzuki. Kanzaki-sempai puts pressure on Takashi to tell him who Haruto likes so he can arrange to have a reason to take Yuzuki home from school by hooking him up with his crush. Conveniently for him it is his own sister. Yuzuki shows no interest in the upperclassman though, and even waits until Haruto comes home, quite late, to eat dinner after he spent the afternoon with Nanami. Things are looking up for Haruto and his long time crush.

When Nanami, not knowing that Akari likes her brother, tells her that he like Yuzuki, she calls out Haruto to ask him advice about his childhood friend. He suggests that they let her deal with it in her own way, as he knows that Akari is a very resilient person and not likely to be majorly depressed by it. However, it also provides him with an opportunity to let Nanami know how he feels. He suddenly blurts out that he has liked her for a very long time and Nanami’s reaction is to run away. Not a very good sign…

While he talked with Nanami, Haruto ignored a call from Yuzuki, who was looking for him to go home. She wandered around the school to find him and happened to be within earshot and saw Nanami’s reaction to his confession. The next day, Haruto seems to be avoiding Nanami. Their class is taking a trip to a nearby island soon and are spiting into groups of five. The three old friends plus Yuzuki and Nanami seems a logical group, but Haruto seems to want to join another. Yuzuki gives him a nasty glare and tells him to stop running and that the way he is acting is definitely “not cool!” This shocks some sense into him, and he also wonders if she heard his confession.

While on the trip, he ends up spending quite a bit of time with Nanami and eventually she has the opportunity to talk with him alone and thoroughly “friend-zones” him. He is devastated. On the boat ride back, he talks about it with Yuzuki who, despite the fact that she has declared her love for him, encourages him on, saying that at least she still wants to be friends and as long as he doesn’t give up it isn’t over.

Haruto’s sister Aoi enters the story at this point. She is a stunningly gorgeous college student who is in town to do two weeks of student teaching. Aoi and Yuzuki hit it off right away, having fun complaining about Haruto’s tendency to include tomatoes in lunches for people who don’t like them and things like that. Watching him interact with his sister, Yuzuki notes that he seems more like the older brother than younger with her, as Aoi acts rather immature for her age. While showing Yuzuki an old photo album of pictures of Haruto as a little boy, Aoi finds something curious: a picture that appears to have Yuzuki in it.

Haruto’s friends decide to throw a party for her and everyone comes over to his house, including Nanami. Much to his surprise, Nanami asks him for “more time” to answer his confession. He really thought she had dumped him, but it appears that Yuzuki’s advice was good and there is still hope. His sister, overhearing their conversation, advises him to give up on her, then shows him the picture. Haruto’s mind reels at this revelation. He has no memory of it, but he knows where to look to confirm it: his childhood picture diaries. He goes out to the family storehouse to find them and finds what he is looking for one from seven years earlier when they were in third grade and the memories come flooding back.

Just as he finds it, Yuzuki comes to call him to breakfast and sees the entry. It seems that he found her crying at the summer festival. She says that she hates this town that her dad made her come to and that she doesn’t want to go home either. To cheer her up, Haruto told her he would take her someplace special. She follows him out to a local pond, where he gives her one of the best pickup lines ever delivered by a third grader. (What a waste!) “In this pond, there is a flower that blooms only once per year.” She is skeptical, but he assures her that it will bloom any minute now. Just as she is about to leave, the “flower” appears.

After watching the fireworks together, they head back to the festival. Akari and Takashi find him and the four of them get their picture taken together. Yuzuki says she needs to find her dad, since he must be worried about her. He asks her to play the next day, but she tells him that they will be leaving, then thanks him for the candied apple and showing her the “beautiful flower,” breaking out in a huge smile. He is happy that she finally smiled and says that he was worried that she really did hate the town when she didn’t even smile during the fireworks. She tells him that it was really something else that she hated (there is a suggestion later that it was right after her mother had died) but that she felt that everything will be all right now, thanks to him. They are both blushing quite a bit at this point and it looks like they both have a bit of puppy love going on. He tells her: “If anything happens again, come here,” implying that she should come see him if she ever has problems and he will make it better. As she leaves, she finally tells him her name.

Yuzuki teases him about how bad the drawings in his picture diary are, but Haruto is more interested in the fact that she remembered this all along. He asks why she kept it a secret and she says that, when she figured out that he didn’t remember her, she thought it would be too embarrassing for her to tell him. As they head off to breakfast, he wonders if the real reason she came to Hiroshima was because of what he said back then. In other words, did something bad happen? Did she come her specifically because he is here? Does she need him to help her make the problem better? Or is he just thinking too much… In any case, it is clear that there is no way he can leave her alone when he thinks she may be in trouble somehow. That is just the kind of guy Haruto is!

In a surprising development, for Haruto at least, Nanami asks him to help her with some shopping her brother asked her to do this coming Saturday in Hiroshima city. It seems like an actual date! He is really excited about it, but remembers that he was going to help Yuzuki practice riding a bike that day. He is sure that she’ll understand, but when he goes to her room to ask her, he finds her packing a bag to go to Tokyo. She won’t tell him why she has to go, but his sister tells him that her grandfather died and she has to go to the funeral. Even though she seems fine, Aoi thinks Yuzuki is suffering for some reason and asks Haruto to take her to Hiroshima station, since he has free time anyway. This messes up his plans with Nanami, but he sends her a message that something came up and he had to go to Hiroshima early and asks her to meet him in front of the station instead of riding the bus together.

On the way there, he asks Yuzuki about her grandfather’s funeral and she says that she hardly knew him and isn’t really upset about it. Haruto is thinking that his sister was imagining things. When they get to Hiroshima, Yuzuki acts like her normal flighty self, flitting around and wanting to do this or that. Haruto has to keep her moving to make sure she doesn’t miss her train. Once at the station, he is happy to be rid of her, as it is almost time to meet Nanami. When he looks back he sees that she is sitting with her head down and not boarding the train.

He yells at her, telling her that if she doesn’t board the train she can’t go home. She says she won’t board it, she wants to go home with Haruto. They argue, he insists that, even if she didn’t know him well, she still needs to go to her grandfather’s funeral. She says she doesn’t have a problem with the funeral, but if she goes back to Tokyo she’ll see… He asks who it is she doesn’t want to see. Then they announce that the train doors are closing and his “can’t leave her alone” streak kicks in and he grabs her wrist and boards says he’ll go with her.

From the train he sends a text message to Nanami, telling her an emergency came up and he wouldn’t be able to make it, but he doesn’t tell her he is going to Tokyo with Yuzuki. When they get to Tokyo he takes her to her house and meets her parents. They thank him for all his help, then he heads to his sister’s apartment. She asked him to clean it for her, since she “didn’t have time” before she left for Hiroshima. He gets there and it is a total disaster area. When he is done, there is a knock on the door. He answers, telling the girl outside that his sister isn’t home right now, but she asks if Yuzuki came to see him there. It is Yuzuki’s younger sister, Rin Eba.

Haruto didn’t know that she had a younger sister or an older brother. He compliments Rin on how “together” she is. She returns the compliment and they joke about having to take care of her “no good big sister”. It seems that Yuzuki left home after he left her there and isn’t answering her phone and Rin and her brother are both out looking for her. Haruto is worried and helps her look. While they are talking, he gets the idea that maybe Rin would know who it was that Yuzuki didn’t want to see, thinking it may be her big brother or something. When Rin says Yuzuki gets along with big bro fine, he wonders if it is an ex-boyfriend or something, but Rin drops a bomb on him. Rin says that Yuzuki was probably referring to her. “Because the one who drove sis out of the house was me.”

Suddenly Rin seems totally different. She tells Haruto that Yuzuki is always “seducing men… charming her way by giving off the feeling of not being able to do anything… She does have that kind of calculative point to her, right? I get really irritated when I see it. Haruto san, don’t you thinks so as well?” Haruto says that, while she is the type of person that you feel you need  to take care of, he doesn’t think she is a bad person. At which point Rin asks him if he is perhaps and enemy too? He is shocked and says “You two are sisters, aren’t you?” to which Rin responds, “I don’t think of her as anything like a sister!”

Just then Yuzuki’s mother calls and says that she just got home. He heads to the station to catch the “night bus” home, but he can’t get over the way Rin changed from a sweet girl to something much darker right before his eyes. Then Yuzuki calls to see if he caught his bus. He hears sounds in the background and asks her if she is outside and she says that she and her family went out for dinner, they left right after he left her and she hasn’t had any downtime since. At this point, Haruto realizes that Rin’s mother and Yuzuki are both lying to him. With the dark look in Rin’s eyes and all the lies, he kind of snaps. He tells Yuzuki “You can stop now…” and asks where she is. She tells him and he says to wait for him, and he goes off to find her.

When he finds her, she starts spinning a story about her parents already heading home and he stops her short and tells her that she doesn’t have to go back to that house tonight! When she is confused, he tells her that he met Rin. Yuzuki gets quiet then.

He takes her to Aoi’s room, tells the landlady that he missed his bus so he can get her key, and tells her she can stay there tonight and then go to the funeral in the morning. They get some convenience store food for dinner and proceed to watch an in-joke with one of the characters from Suzuka appearing on TV. It is kind of cute if you have read both manga.

Suddenly Yuzuki tells him that her dad remarried last year and Rin and her brother are from her mom’s previous marriage, so … “things have… been a little weird… at home.” She says she wasn’t planning on hiding it, but she didn’t want to worry people either. She then goes back into cutesy mode, talking rapidly about nothing, then sees how worried he looks she makes excuses and then apologizes for getting him mixed up in this even though he has nothing to do with it. However, he responds, “I do… aren’t we already family?” She looks surprised and he says, “What I’m saying is that I’m already part of your family!! If things are hard, then at least show it. That way I’ll come and save you.” At which point, she starts to cry.

They are interrupted by a knock on the door. It is Yuzuki’s older brother. Haruto tells him that he won’t let Yuzuki go back with him, but he says that’s fine. He came to talk to Haruto. He explains that when Rin was born, their father was already gone, and with their mother working, she got really attached to him. She has kind of a “brother complex”. Rin hates it when Yuzuki and he get along and accuses her of “tempting” him. Haruto says she isn’t that type of girl, which her brother agrees with. He says that Rin would pick a fight with Yuzuki whenever she saw her and because of that, Yuzuki started to not come home. Haruto asks what their parents did about it and is told that their dad works to much to do anything, though he is aware of it and that their mom, well, naturally favors her own daughter, so he thinks it is a good thing that Yuzuki went to Hiroshima.

He then goes on about how she emails him about all the fun she’s having and all the friends she made and how relieved he is to know that she is doing well. He then says, “Sorry, but please take care of Yuzuki from now on,’ at which point, Haruto punches him in the face. Haruto then screams at him, telling him that he has no clue. How does he thing Yuzuki felt about been thrown away by her own family? Does he know what kind of feelings she is feeling? He is about to hit him again and Yuzuki begs him to stop. Haruto starts to argue with her, but she says “Thanks… but it’s OK now.” Then she tells her brother, “Let’s go now.” Haruto asks where and she says, “Sorry Haruto-kun, I think I’ll go home now.” When he tries to stop her, she says that if she keeps running away nothing will change, then says, “Besides… Since I know that you’ll be there for me, I’m not scared any more.”

Haruto goes back to Aoi’s room for the night and sees that he missed a phone call from Nanami. Wondering what she was calling so late for, and if she found out that he went to Tokyo with Yuzuki, he calls her back. After another little inside joke about characters from Suzuka, he finds out that she was afraid that he didn’t want to go shopping with her because he was bothered by the invitation. He tells her he was really happy she invited him and they have a nice talk. He goes to sleep thinking about how much her really likes Nanami.

The next day he is waiting for Yuzuki at the train station, wondering if she was alright after that. He is then shocked by seeing Yuzuki and Rin walking together, smiling and laughing like people on good terms with each other. Yuzuki tells him that when she went home, she and Rin and their brother started talking and she told them about Hiroshima and Haruto and they talked most of the night. Yuzuki goes off to buy their tickets, since her father gave her money to pay for his ticket, and he and Rin have a little heart-to-heart. He wonders how she could be so friendly with Yuzuki when she hated her so much yesterday. She says that she finally understood her when she talked with her. “She isn’t calculative. She’s just an idiot! It is seriously ridiculous to fight her. Plus, big bro is happier when I’m nice to her. So please be assured, I won’t fight with her any more.” Then she goes on and notes that when her brother came home he had a huge bruise like someone had “hit him”? Haruto apologizes, says he should probably apologize to her brother, but she cuts him off and says he doesn’t have to do that, but…

Gotta love those yandere eyes! Yuzuki tells him later that Rin is going to come to Hiroshima for summer break and that she really wanted to “talk with Nanami-chan” … It seems that Haruto has a tiger by the tail here, and it may just bite him… hard.

When they return to Hiroshima, the end of the term is drawing near. On the last day of school, Yuzuki finally rides a bike to school on her own. After school, Haruto is invited out by Nanami. They seem to be getting along well, and Nanami even invites him to go to the beach the next day. It turns out that it is a group outing though, and Haruto doesn’t swim, so he doesn’t really seem to be having a good time. Eventually Nanami goes to talk to him and he admits that he was a bit disappointed, because he thought they would be going alone. At that point, she invites him to go to the summer festival with her, just the two of them.

Then, of course, is the second coming of Rin. She is visiting over break and is none to happy about it. Not that anyone other than Haruto would know about that. She is all happieness and light to others, but vinegar and spite to him. The two of them spar a bit, with each getting the better of the other here and there. It seems that Yuzuki’s birthday is coming up and Rin wants to go shopping for a present and asks none other than Nanami to go shopping with her. They also buy yukata for the festival, and on the way home, she asks Nanami is she will go to the festival with her. Nanami confides in her that she is going alone with Haruto. Rin then nonchalantly mentions that Haruto is just that type of guy who helps people all the time, he even went to Tokyo with Yuzuki a while back. Nanami is shocked that the reason that Haruto broke their date was because he was with Yuzuki in Tokyo and he hid it from her.

While the girls were shopping, Haruto asked Yuzuki what she would like for her birthday. After several unreasonable requests, she asks if she can watch the fireworks at the pond with him as a present. He tells her he cannot, because he is going to the festival with Nanami.

Come the day of the festival, Haruto is excited. He calls Nanami to find out where they are going to meet and she informs him that she can’t go. No explanation, just that she can’t go.

Everyone else goes to the festival, but Haruto goes and hangs out at the convenience store, hoping she will show up. Rin finds this out and informs him that she “let it slip” that he went to Tokyo with Yuzuki. Haruto understands now, and he doesn’t blame her for being mad. It is all his fault for lying to her. Rin gets mad because he isn’t mad at her for telling and he says he is actually thankful for it and that it is all for the best. Rin then storms off and goes to incite more problems by talking with Nanami again. After Nanami tells her about the confession and how she didn’t feel close enough to him to date back then, but was still very interested, she tells Nanami that Haruto is her “Saftey Net”. She didn’t want to date him, but she didn’t want somebody else to take him away. She accuses her of being a bit possessive. Then she spins the idea that his breaking their date to go to Tokyo with another woman must have really stung someone that possessive. Rin thinks she has totally broken their relationship, but Nanami says she is going to go meet Haruto after all.

Just as she is about to give her answer to his confession, the group of friends come running up looking for Yuzuki. It seem that she has wandered off and nobody can find her! Haruto figures she went to the pond alone and is worried that she may get lost or hurt in the dark so he runs off to find her. The look on Nanami’s face says volumes. He finds her at the pond. It seems she missed the firewoks because she got lost. After he lets the others know that he found her and they can go home, they get a surprise:

It seems there was one firework left, after all, so she got her birthday wish. Yuzuki holds Haruto’s hand and says that she is glad she got to see the fireworks with him one last time, since next year he will be dating Nanami. He says that is far from certain and he avoids telling her that they didn’t actually go to the festival together. When they get back to the convenience store, Nanami is waiting for him and Yuzuki hurries on home to leave the two alone. Nanami then lets the other shoe drop. She tells him that it looks like she really can’t date him. She says he is a good person and she has fun with him, and she was thinking that she may like him too, but it was a mistake.

When he gets home, everyone pounces and asks if they are dating. He tells them he was dumped and calmly goes to his room. Several people comment that they thought he would be more upset. The look on Yuzuki’s face is priceless. She appears to be quite upset.

After everyone else goes to bed, Yuzuki pokes her head in and asks Haruto if they can talk for a bit. They make some small talk, then Yuzuki asks if he is really OK about Nanami dumping him? She says that she really didn’t think he would be rejected. He admits that he was hopeful too, but he guesses that he just doesn’t understand a woman’s heart and suggests that it would have been better if he had been dumped with a slap. He tells her she doesn’t need to worry about it and that he is unexpectedly fine with it. He then starts making small talk about the festival and their friends. Yuzuki looks positively in pain watching him and then:

She buries his head between her breasts and tells him, “It’s OK… When times are hard, show it. Why are you being so stubborn? You always liked Nanami-chan, didn’t you?” Her words echo what he told her in Tokyo. Just like he was there for her, she is there for him. He thinks of Nanami and all he has been through trying to get her to date him, grasps Yuzuki’s arm in a tight grip, and cries in her arms, denying that he is crying the whole time. It is one of the most touching scenes I have ever read. The love Yuzuki has for him is so obvious. She loves him enough that she wishes he could be with another women so he would be happy.

The next morning, Rin informs him that Yuzuki was the reason he was dumped. She says it isn’t just about the trip to Tokyo, but even before that, people thought they might be dating. On top of that they live in the same house, and Nanami would feel uneasy with that situation if they were dating. It would drive her nuts. He understands, and seems a bit more down. Yuzuki comes home from her tennis practice and brings him some ice cream. He sits and ponders if this closeness he has with Yuzuki could really be the reason that Nanami won’t date him. Yuzuki wonders what is wrong and he passes it off as a “brain freeze”. She offers to make him some hot tea. As she threatens to destroy the kitchen in the process of making tea, Aoi comes out and comments that he seems to be worrying about what Rin said. He says he is and she says “Well, I guess so. Yuzuki-chan is a klutz. If you take your eyes off her for a moment, you won’t know what she’ll do. It would be pretty dangerous for her if you weren’t around. Just because you want to date Nanami-chan doesn’t mean you can leave Yuzuki all alone.” He responds, “It’s the opposite. The one who was always being saved was me. Every time I’m weak and pathetic, she is always there… Getting angry… Cheering me up…  I think it most likely isn’t because she is here that I can’t data Kanzaki, but because she was there that I was able to get close to Kanzaki. I absolutely can’t start treating her like some kind of problem because of that…” She asks if he is going to just give up and he says “Yeah, I guess so.” When she presses him, he says, “But if I were to get more distant from Eba… and force her out of this house as a way to go out with Kanzaki, then I don’t need to do it.” He realizes that, in reality, regardless of how he feels about Nanami, Yuzuki is more important to him. He hasn’t gotten to the point that he realizes what he feelings really are, but he knows that he cares enough for her that his life would be incomplete if he gave her the cold shoulder just to win the affections of a girl that can’t deal with how close he is with the person that has become his very best friend in the world. In the end, both siblings agree that it sounds just like something he would do… The chapter ends with Yuzuki almost burning him with the tea and Aoi thinking, “But I definitely think that you two make a much cuter couple…” I agree with Aoi!

Well, this has gotten far too long. I really get worked up when I get to thinking about the manga… I’m going to end this here, but may, if I have time, finish the preview in another post. Suffice it to say that I have only gotten about half way to the Tokyo arc at this point. There is still a whole lot left to go before he finally realizes who he really loves, has to deal with being separated from her, then has her cruelly ripped away from him, seemingly without explanation and chases off after her to Tokyo, totally unsure if she still loves him or not. Hopefully, if you have never read the manga, this will whet your appetite for the show and make you want to see what happens with our two star-crossed lovers. I personally can’t wait!

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  1. Mentar

    Wow, someone’s been pouring out a lot of love here ;) … nice post!

    I’m a bit worried about the anime conversion. Let’s face it, a big part of the appeal of the manga is Seo’s incredible artwork. How well this translates into a B-budget anime…

  2. anon

    Thanks for the review! I am definitely going to read the manga before starting the anime! I am a sucker for romance..
    /0/

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