Wednesday, August 31, 2011
A million years ago, I reviewed the first two volumes of Sasameki Koto. Now that the series is approaching its twilight, I thought I'd re-read the entire thing and post some more reviews before giving Sumi and Ushio, those two crazy kids, their proper send-off after volume 9 comes out. (This post is less of a review-review than a rambling series of notes I typed while re-reading.)
I didn't remember all of the moments of stupid Kiyori had in the first volume's opening scene. (Calling Ushio's lesbianism an illness, being confused because Ushio was a lesbian attending a co-ed school, suggesting that Ushio could get a boyfriend since she's pretty.) But I like how Ikeda Takashi just calls out the obnoxious/stupid/hurtful things that some people think about lesbians in this scene and blows raspberries at them. (I especially like how he subverts the "she's gay because she's at a girls' school" cliche by turning it into "she tried to get into a girls' school because she's gay.") And not only Kiyori's ignorance, but Sumi telling Ushio that girls can't fall for other girls. Kiyori and Sumi's opening characterization not only serves to skewer the assumptions they're parroting, but provides a great springboard for character development. (Kiyori quickly becoming Ushio and Sumi's most supportive straight friend, and Sumi becoming more comfortable/less defensive about being gay herself.)
And I'd forgotten about how sad the first chapter is. It does a great job of making one want to give the main characters a hug. (And tissues.) It also realistically captures what it's like to be caught in an episode of high school drama- the kind that doesn't seem like a big deal in retrospect, but consumes one's world at the time it's happening. Anybody who's been in high school can relate to it.
The remainder of these two volumes has a more even balance between humor and bittersweetness. My favorite scene in the first volume is still Sumi and Ushio's first "kiss." ("My first (pseudo) kiss with the girl I loved...The cold taste of plastic.") I can't think of many manga scenes that manage to be as funny and heart-twinging at the same time.
Which...brings us to our wonderful second couple, Tomoe and Miyako. I really like it when yuri series include two or more yuri couples who befriend one another. (A couple of other good examples are Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu and Fu~Fu.) Yes, Sumi and Ushio haven't actually gotten together yet...but it's still nice that they have other lesbian friends at school. (Part of why I like the Sumi-Ushio-Tomoe-Miyako scenario so much is because, wishful thinking aside, I didn't know any out gay or bisexual girls in high school.)
The biggest dead spot in the series is still the date-with-Akemiya chapter. Manaka is far and away the worst character in SK.
Some people probably find Aoi annoying, but screw them. I love her character arc, in all of its otakuriffic glory. (And duh, of course I like her for being a squealing yuri fangirl.) She does say and do some stupid, immature things, like the rest of the teenaged characters, but nothing beyond the pale for someone her age. I also like the love triangle dynamic she briefly brings into the story, even though she's never, thankfully, a remotely serious threat to Sumi's feelings for Ushio. (Quite the contrary, Ushio only begins to realize her feelings for Sumi after catching her in an accidentally compromising position with Aoi.)
And I still love the last chapter of volume 2. It's not only 24 pages (25 if you count the "Useless Addition") of Sumi x Ushio goodness, it's noteworthy for being the first time someone (Ushio's brother) comments to Ushio about her girlfriend-like behavior towards Sumi.
Story: B+ for volume 1, A- for volume 2
Overall: See Story.