Sasaki Ayumi: Moon Centaur

Sasaki Ayumi’s Moon Centaur is a collection of tales of pain, anguish, yearning and fear. I was interested in it because the look of the cover and the artwork reminded me of Souma Jinko’s Kinjirareta Taion and at the time I could not remember the mangaka’s name and thought Moon Centaur might be by her as well. Hoping to get the same feeling from reading it as from viewing the cover, I agreed to review it.

For me, the best story was “Moon Mirror.” I like watching crazy people be crazy. Sakuya Morimura and Tomoyuki Kawase are childhood friends who don’t quite see eye to eye on what they mean to each other and one of them decides to force the issue. It has a sad and ambiguous ending, but was a relatively satisfying read. If the entire volume explored their youth into their adult years, this could have been an awesome book. But as it is, it is only one of several stories and we come into it right before the end. During the story we are filled in on what has transpired in their past; it’s enough to establish their friendship, if nothing else. And then it ends.

The rest of the volume is filled with stories of questionable merit. “Face” was about two people reuniting. “Moon Morning” told the story of a jealous younger brother raping his older brother. “Let the Gentle Rain Fall” showed an abusive relationship. “We’ll Walk in July” is more rape. And the title story was about set of brothers who give into incest. These story lines would definitely fall under the psychological genre and all are potentially gripping, but they never took hold of me.

It is an older manga, so the art is not as pretty as some may be accustomed to but it’s not bad at all. The localization was pretty much invisible. And by that I mean, there were no glaring errors or botched editing and it didn’t interfere with the stories. It’s like magic; you know something is happening or happened, but all you notice is the sparkling end result. I like dark themes so I was really looking forward to enjoying this, but the mangaka was only playing at sobriety and yearning and the demons her characters were facing just turned out to be a bunch of kids in plastic masks. I was very interested in each story when I started to read them, but immediately found that were lacking body. I think the issue is, at least with this volume, that Sasaki-sensei was more skilled at generating strong ideas than developing and conveying them. Nothing confirmed that for me more than “Face” and “Moon Centaur.” When I started reading “Moon Centaur,” I though it was some sort of continuation of “Face. It was as if the two stories were ignited by the same spark; one she fanned until it became a story and the other she just left enough air waft around as to not let the ember die out completely.

After subsequent reads and further consideration, the volume moved up from a 1.5 to a 2.0. I still have the feeling that I’m missing something, Like, maybe this is really great and I just don’t know.

I initially read this story as a courtesy bestowed upon me by Boys Love Bang Bang and eManga. However, from my initial read–before factoring in the localization, the art, etc., just on the story alone–it scored a 1.5. My scale begins at a 2.5 because I think anything less is pointless to even bother entertaining and I just mark them with an “x.” Since it did not meet my minimum requirement of a base score of 2.5, I suggested I not review this title. Some weeks later I just became bothered by it because I didn’t hate it, I just thought it was really bad. And since there are times when I discover things I missed the first or even second time around while writing about it and sometimes these things help me to appreciate the story more, I decided to buy it to make sure the story is a 1.5 or not.

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