I believe the first story I read by Konohara Narise was “Dousokai”, a oneshot illustrated by Asou Mitsuaki. At the time, the other things I had read by Asou left me wanting so I don’t think I was in the frame of mind to appreciate it. This is not to say that a later re-reading of “Dousokai” changed my mind completely, but I did come to appreciate the synergy created by Konohara’s words and Asou’s art. Shortly after, I realized that the Miyamoto Kano story that I was reading, The End of Youth, was penned by her. So I guess this one is technically my first, but anyway… Undaunted by being unimpressed with “Dousokai” and the slow going of The End of Youth, when I ran across Konohara’s Cold novel series, I decided to give it a try. Cold Sleep(Vo1) and Cold Light (V02) were already out and Cold Fever (V03) was due out in a reasonable number of weeks, so I figured I’d pick up the two and ride out the wait. The first two volumes were good and I really wanted the 3rd. I was surprised to learn that “Dousokai” was just an illustrated pinch of a story included at the end of the volumes. It read much better that way. I was so hyped about getting the final volume that I talked to my mother about the story–I needed and outlet for my impatience, so I conveniently left out the fact that both of the main characters were male. When I finally received Cold Fever, I dug right in and was satisfied.
While mulling over whether my thoughts here would see the light of day, I was browsing her works on MU and saw that Asou is illustrating the manga version of the Cold novel series. I really hope someone picks them up. Once I finished the series, I went on to read The Man Who Doesn’t Take His Clothes Off and Don’t Worry Mama. I finished The End of Youth and some time later started Castle Mango. Each very different and each I would recommend.
The Konohara reading spree actually spanned a year and a half and somewhere towards the end of that time, I read her collaboration with–a new-to-me illustrator–Ootake Tomo called About Love. This was serialized in her original comic anthology, ergo, along with a few other titles, including The End of Youth. Regarding About Love, I want to tell you that it is one of my favorite love stories, irrespective of genre. The characters are so vivid and normal. No entertainment idols, no elites, no X_dere, just normal people working normal jobs with normal insecurities and (mostly) normal issues. And accentuating this splendid display of normalcy with its soft curves is Ootake’s everyday-people art style. A great pairing all the way around.
A while back I commented about how I wanted to write about About Love, but couldn’t because there was so much I wanted to say and doing so would give everything away. The urge still lives, so I’m just going to slap a spoiler warning on this baby and go to town.
I want to look at Asaka and Sasagawa. I want to look at their strengths, their weaknesses, and their relationship. I want to look at them at each stage and marvel at how naturally it came about, how awkwardly it developed and how true I think their happy ending is. I want to look at every moment, so please check back soon and join me as I do just that.