Beginnings. That’s what comes to mind when I think about her stories, the two that I’ve read anyway. A Truthful Picture and These are the Hungry are great stories about finding your way through a new life experience. Sumako-sensei writes characters that are at once timid and brave, thoughtful and careless, restricted and free.
In These are the Hungry, readers are allowed to witness the truth of a one-sided love, not unrequited, but truly one-sided. Being able to clearly see the thoughts of someone who actively participates in loosening the cap on their inhibitions is quite a trip. Tuning into Saitozaki before his interest is fully reciprocated is a lot of fun because you get to see a character who gives voice to his thoughts and gives action to his intentions rather the character spending the whole story trying to cover it up, and then–BAM–becoming a well-adjusted individual. It’s not overwhelming or pushy and it’s not a farce; he can’t help but be true to his neurotic and inquisitive nature. Also, without changing the tone of the story, Sensei addresses Itoshima’s loss in perfect doses and shows that one person can’t always be everything to another and that it’s fine if that’s the case even if the other person is striving for that kind of end.