A Kiss on Tearful Cheeks | By Tsumugi (Story), Yukie Sasaki (Art) | Published by JManga.com | Rated: Teen Plus
Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying might be the perfect anthem for the heroine of A Kiss on Tearful Cheeks, Iori Narazaki. She is constantly upset by the little things, not the big things. She’s never been in love because her feelings never lasted. Mam and Dad are abroad so big sister Shiori takes care of her. Shiori works in a publishing company and Iori, 17, goes to school. One day she is crying after being dropped off at school when a young man named Yusuke Izumi asks her if she’s alright. After revealing that he works in the same company as Shiori, and also knows her, Yusuke gives her his card and says if she’s ever crying again to call him. Iori toys with the idea of contacting him but doesn’t, and after being set up on a date by her best friend, Megu, seems to like the guy Megu set her up with. Unfortunately, the date turns out to be a lesser example of the male sex and when things look bad for Iori, Yusuke suddenly turns up and rescues her. So, Iori begins to think that this feeling she has when she thinks of Yusuke might not be so bad.
The best thing about this title for me upon starting it is that it is a million miles away from my usual fare for the column. It’s entirely contemporary and set in the here and now. Iori is a bit of a crybaby but she isn’t helpless. She has a bad case of poor self-esteem, that’s all. She really wishes that people wouldn’t have to worry about her. She always wonders why she isn’t like her sister, for example. But when Yusuke comes into her life, it really does transform things around her. He wants her only because of her not because he grew up with her, or is best friends with her or is related to her. And Yusuke, aside from one or two odd bits of behaviour, doesn’t want to pressure her into doing something she doesn’t want to. Simply put, he is enchanted with her and she’s smitten with him.
Now, as I said, there are one or two quirks of behaviour on Yusuke’s part that I don’t get as they seem slightly at odds with the rest of his makeup. One, he gets intensely jealous whenever other boys Iori knows pay attention to her. He’s only known the girl a wet week and already he’s jealous? Second, after he and Iori decide to get together, he keeps leaving love bites on her body. And refers to them as his mark. Hmm, I don’t understand that. Now, if he didn’t have positive attributes like not wanting to push her into having sex with him (every bloke worth his salt should come with this way of thinking as a standard part) or explaining himself when he does get jealous, this would be a different kind of story. One thing about the way Iori is written that doesn’t sit very well with me is she, twice in a row, gets into a situation where really creepy lads try to maul her (thats’s the best way I can put it) and twice Yusuke rescues her. Does she really need him to rescue her? So little of her psychological makeup is described in this first volume, I worry that it will become an “Oh, no! I’m being attacked! Save me, Yusuke!” trope of the story. The authors are not helping matters by using Iori in this way, because they have a person she barely knows attack her and then has a person she has known all her life attack her. What does that say about girls in Japan? No matter what they say, you can have your way with them? I really worry about that kind of message.
Maybe I’m projecting too many of my own insecurities about messages like that in this review. If I am, consciously or unconsciously, I apologise as the series has a lot of potential. The best bits in this are the moments when Iori and Yusuke are with each other and we hear Iori’s innermost thoughts. These are the thoughts of a person who doesn’t know where she and he are going but after living a life of uncast doubts, she wants this feeling she gets around Yusuke. Wants it more than anything. Come hell or high water. Come laughter, scares and yes, even the tears. I think some of us can relate to this feeling. Hell, I know I’ve been in throes of such a feeling and having and wanting no way out. It could all turn to cat poop in five minutes. Iori doesn’t seem to care. Much like the lyrics of the above mentioned song, Iori doesn’t mind crying now because now she’s not crying about nothing, she’s crying about a feeling she’s got and that’s not a bad thing.
Yukie Sasaki’s art is somewhat refined but the joy here is the long delicate features of her characters, their huge expressive eyes, and the unfinished look to things. It makes for a uneven mess, but it’s a lovely mess for my money. Tsumugi, the author, really needs to decide where her main characters mental tics should settle. Plus the mixed messages thing about Iori being a target for every guy that’s not Yusuke needs to end, full stop. Other than that, I’m happy to keep going.
This is my first review for Manga BookShelf using the JManga platform, though I would humbly ask that you check out the rest of the writers on Manga Bookshelf for a better view of the service as a whole. I like JManga, not enough to say it’s a perfect system because it’s not. There are parts of it I would change. They are starting to address the pricing problems of the original setup of the website. And yes, universal access to all titles, regardless of geography, is an absolute must. But for titles like A Kiss… there is simply no way it would ever be released by a print publisher. Sadly, the market just won’t support it. So, I am looking forward to buying more of A Kiss… but I would ask the people at JManga to bring over the rest of the series as there are only three volumes of nine available. Incomplete series make no money no matter how loyal their readers are.
Question time: Given how much fun I had with JManga, would you like me to take a break from Sailor Moon more often and do stuff like A Kiss…? I know that a few of you had said initially that doing Sailor Moon alone was not the end all and be all of shoujo and I do see that. Seeing as I can’t spend all that much on manga these days (Google: Irish economic problems. Not being sarcastic here.), what would you like more of? Stuff like A Kiss… and Skip Beat or more fantasy stuff like Sakura Hime or Sailor Moon? With it ending in 7 or so more volumes and I’m having so much fun on the column that I don’t want to dry up when I finish on SM. Comments and emails are welcome in this endeavour.