Sweet and romantic. Shoko Takaku's artwork is the star here.
Writer/ArtistL Teiko Sasaki and Shoku Takaku
Translated by: Bruce Dorsey
Adapted by: Bruce Dorsey
What They Say
Ever since they were kids, college students Kazushi and Haru have been close. Friends say they act like a couple. Their birthdays are only three days apart, so they always celebrate together. But an "innocent" kiss confuses things. When Kazushi also reveals his feelings, the fallout threatens to drive them apart. Haru can only see him as a friend - nothing more. Why would the popular Kazushi be interested in guys in the first place? That's not normal, is it? Furthermore, why is Kazushi such a workaholic? Having a half-dozen jobs isn't normal, either. These are the questions that Haru must answer before life changes everything. will the choices they each have to make separate Kazushi and Haru for good...or bring them closer together?
Kissing gets DMP's standard trim size with the consistent high quality expected of DMP. The cover slip shows Kazushi and Haru in a pose designed to engage the viewer with an equally inviting color inset on the back. DMP doesn't miss an opportunity to advertise with seven pages of goods and services. There is an author/artist afterword.
Shoko Takaku's (Passion) artwork is the real selling point of Kissing. Her panel layouts are dynamic without being chaotic and her characters are given a sense of place. Tonework is well balanced and the pages are pleasant to look at. Her character designs show her distinctive style, which is attractive without being caricature. This is a book that one will read again for the art.
The characters are presented with good sense of their individuality and the text reads well with no glaring errors. Sfx are replaced or subbed.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kazushi and Haru have been friends forever, so when Kazushi kisses Haru in order to dissuade a female admirer, their friends just laugh off Haru's protestations. But it's friend Minota who points out that the ruse would not have worked if Kazushi and Haru didn't already look as if they were a couple. After all, they share so much, even the food off their plates.
Kazushi and Haru have been friends forever, so when Haru finds a magazine that he knows Kazushi has been looking for, he heads over to the convenience store, where Kazushi is working in one of his many part-time jobs. In gratitude for Haru's thoughtful gesture, Kazushi invites Haru for dinner later at the cafe where he is also now working. Haru arrives at the restaurant with Minota to Kazushi's displeasure, to which Haru is oblivious. Minota eventually leaves and Kazushi and Haru make their way to Kazushi's house to hang out. The absence of Kazushi's family gives Kazushi an opportunity to confess his love to Haru and to demonstrate it with a passionate kiss. Haru is mortified and confused.
Kazushi and Haru have been friends forever, so this kiss has not only confused Haru, but placed his friendship with Kazushi, upon which Haru is so dependent, in jeopardy. Haru, a "my pace" and lackadaisical kind of guy, loses what focus he has, begins to skip classes and avoids those places where he might see Kazushi. Most hurtful to Haru is that he will miss his birthday celebration with Kazushi after so many years of celebrating together. But on that evening there is a knock at his window - it's Kazushi with a birthday gift for Haru. It's a small trophy cup inscribed with "Best Friends Forever". Corny and sweet, it's intended to be a conciliatory gesture on Kazushi's part, which of course is completely nullified by the parting kiss that Kazushi gives Haru before he departs via the balcony. Haru is confused and angry and tosses the cup breaking its base.
Kazushi and Haru have been friends forever, so Haru decides that he can't avoid Kazushi forever and rejoins his friends at school. In a very ambiguous gesture, Haru gives Kazushi a birthday present - the same "Best Friends Forever" trophy Kazushi had given him. Despite the razzing that the guys give Haru over such a lame gift, Kazushi, who notices the broken base, accepts it graciously. In a meeting with Haru later, Kazushi insists that he does love Haru, but Haru only wants to return to the friendship that they once had.
Kazushi and Haru have been friends forever, so Minota cannot stand idly by, as much as one suspects he is interested in being more than friends with Haru. Good friend that he is, he reminds Haru of all that Kazushi has meant to him. Coupled with things that Haru learns about why Kazushi works as hard as he does, as well as his future plans, Haru's heart softens. He reflects on his own behavior and makes some changes on his own to be worthy of Kazushi's friendship and affection.
Kazushi and Haru have been friends forever, so it shouldn't be surprising that Haru gives Kazushi something special as a more fitting sign of a new commitment.
Kissing is a very sweet story with likable characters in a thoughtfully presented predicament. One can't help but like Kazushi, so earnest and determined to see through to his goals. And while it's possible to resent Haru for his treatment of such a straightforward and honest guy, the effective depiction of Haru's shock and unease at Kazushi's confession makes his reactions understandable. The only thing that detracts from the story is how the central dilemma is resolved. Haru's change of mind and feeling seem to come too easily given the anxiety and rootlessness that he experienced when he felt his friendship with Kazushi had been lost. A longer story might have made the transition better, but this is not a couple about whom a longer story would have said much more without wearing out its welcome.
Sex scenes here are modest and in no way graphic, fitting for the 16+ age rating. But it's not about sex here, it's about romance. And the lovely art will make the reading even better.