Fast-paced fluffy fun with a hint of mystery.
Writer/Artist: Haruka Fukushima
Translation: Rebecca Kaya Laterman
Adaptation: Rebecca Kaya Laterman
What They Say
Like a lot of girls, Rui has boy problems. But most girls would be thrilled to have a problem like hers: There are too many boys in love with her! First there’s Taro, the adorable boy next door. Then there’s Eisuke, a teaching intern who’s just too hot to handle. And finally, Kaoru–the one boy who just may hold the key to Rui’s heart!
Del Rey has given Orange Planet an attractive release. This initial volume sports a white cover upon which the three principals - Rui, Eisuke and Taro are prominently displayed in a triangular composition that hints at the relationships inside the cover. The covers also sports a reference to Haruka Fukushima's two other works released in English through a different publisher, a nice touch that informs new and future fans of Fukushima's works. The back cover blurb is succinct and doesn't "give away" more than it should, and although "It's Raining Boys!" is a bit too much hyperbole, it does pretty much take into account the interests of the target audience.
Haruka Fukushima's art is recognizably shoujo with an abundance of screen tone and background detail that emphasize the energy and chaos of this series. Characters are her distinct in design and voice but not significantly out of norm for this type of shoujo.
Del Rey has included four pages of translator's notes, two pages of the author's four panel chome, as well as the single page honorifics explanation. An untranslated peek at the next volume and some advertisements for Del Rey releases round out the extras.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Haruka Fukushima, much as she had in Cherry Juice, sets up a scenario to get those tweens and teens asquee.
Rui is a middle schooler living on her own after the recent marriage of her aunt, who had been her guardian after the death of her parents some years ago. She has after school jobs to pay her rent and lives with sympathetic landladies who watch over her. She also lives next door to her longtime friend (and long-ago recipient of her love confession, one that he rejected), Taro, whose current affection for Rui belies that rejection. However, the past is just that and Rui's current crush is classmate, Kaoru, who appears to return Rui's interest.
This is much more than a story about a fairly conventional romantic triangle. Fukushima begins the story with a flashback to a point much earlier in Rui's life and the event that motivates so many of Rui's actions - the appearance of an older boy who provided comfort and solace to a five year old who was burying her parents on that day, her birthday. Almost more than her pursuit of Kaoru, finding this boy from her past is an obsession.
Fukushima doesn't waste much time introducing the main complication into Rui's busy routine. On her way to deliver a love confession to Kaoru's home, she has a confrontation with an attractive young man making out with a young woman in the lobby of Kaoru's apartment building. Rui, feisty little thing that she is, lets the guy have it to which he responds in kind. Rui walks away without leaving her love note, but encouraged by her classmates, she returns to the apartment building only to find the top floor on fire. Of course, the apartment on fire belongs to...I don't have to say it, do I? In a move as much due to the young man's charm as Rui's compassion and guilt, the young man talks his way into a stay at Rui's apartment.
Once at school, Rui's friends drop their usual conversation on Rui's pursuit of Kaoru and oblivion to Taro's feelings to speculate on the new mathematics teaching intern due to arrive that day. I don't need to tell who this is, do I? Well, the arrival of playboy Eisuke Tachibana will prove to be a huge problem for Rui, who must keep the knowledge of their living arrangement from everybody. Through much of the volume Fukushima provides enough fodder for moments of near discovery, often quite funny, but this is a joke with a single punch line and it remains to be seen how long this situation will interest and amuse.
Eisuke, for his part, does his best to camouflage his presence at the apartment from outsiders, especially Taro. As a teaching intern at Rui's school, Eisuke sizes up the relationship between Taro and Rui and tries to encourage Taro, but the advice seems to be more of a challenge to Taro than a help. While Fukushima is exploring this romantic triangle/rectangle, she doesn't forget Rui's quest to find the boy who promised her "the brightest star up there" so many years ago, and she engages the reader with some clues that the hapless (and sometimes hopeless) Rui cannot appreciate.
The initial premise is deliberately preposterous - it simply will not work without a large suspension of disbelief, but that's the fun of it. What one would do without pesky and interfering adults is a prime fantasy of the young adult years. The pacing is also very deliberate, quick with a hit-and-run feel to the various encounters, which is not a negative in series with this unusual premise. While the characters are stereotypical, and there isn't much character development at this stage, Fukushima gives Rui a charming cluelessness that does make the reader root for her.
As cute and often funny as this is, it's the mystery of the identity of the boy from Rui's past that will keep readers involved and in this first volume Fukushima provides enough clues (and red herrings!) to get the job done.
I usually don't care for the deliberately frantic pace that characterizes this type of shoujo, but I did find myself caught up in the story, largely due to the way Fukushima delivers privileged information on one hand and performs some slight-of-hand with the facts with the other. We are let in on some secrets but can never be sure of the truth of them. This is a series that looks as if it may provide a bit more than its fluffy and contrived plot demonstrates thus far.