Comment reactions: The discussion has been stimulating. People have drawn up a number of interesting parallels and contrasts. It's inspired me to share my thought on how Yuu and Nanami compare.
Yuu is clearly naive in love and/or romantic relationships, but that makes perfect sense with her lack of experience. Some people just start late with the whole liking people thing--and it can come on very suddenly. She seems to be dealing with this (new to her) situation all right to me. The thing that really struck me was the close of chapter 17 (when the plot of the play is revealed) as we see a conclusion materializing in her head. I found that sequence very pleasing because my take away was that Yuu wasn't going to be just another dense-about-emotions character. I think Yuu's neurological wiring and/or emotional disposition is less familiar to most of us,
I am with everyone thinking Yuu is headed straight into a heart trap, but the real tragedy for me is Nanami. Nanami is self destructing and Yuu is one of the innocent by standers (the other being Sayaka) she is sort of dragging along for a bit on her way. She thinks she can or she is trying to handle more (self-imposed) responsibilities and expectations than she can. And the girl cannot let go (on her own).
I think Touko truly cares for Yuu, but her sister still seems to be too more important. She has to keep Yuu at a distance (by teasing, not talking too deeply, too long about herself, etc.). It was naive of her to act with Yuu like some robot or forever-puppy-type who would not develop feelings while being in an overtly romantic relationship. It was naive and a bit selfish, but I would also call it hopeful and desperate. If, upon realizing Yuu's feelings, Touko tries to dismiss them and disconnect, they are both going to suffer greatly; be it grief, betrayal (Yuu), hopelessness (Touko) nor withdrawal (either). I am not sold on Yuu's ever more apparent attraction being the main catalyst, but it will not mix well into whatever welling up in Touko's situation.
One last thought (re parallels): Touko is not the only one fighting for her image (or images). Yuu is trying to deny her perceived loss of her stolid persona. (She's feeling affected.) Yuu's struggle seems much more of a bittersweet (maybe more bitter than sweet) coming of age tale; whereas Touko's facades breaking down seems like it could be a more lasting scar on her life. It's really interesting how these two and their stories are interacting.
This manga is so very refreshing. I have no clue what is going to happen, but the romantic in me is looking forward to it. This has romantic tragedy written all over it!
P.S. +1 to Nakatani doing a story for adults. Or just anything post high school, really.
Based upon how the chapter ended ("the incident" occurring just past the middle point), it's probably a long shot, but there is an opportunity for the mangaka to do something different by having Hina notice that Hana was not put off by her misreading of the the situation with the friend. Maiko didn't seem to mind either, actually (but maybe she only has the "it's just play" context and did not pick up on on Hana's "I thought it was real..." context).
--Did anyone else notice that Hina and Maiko look almost exactly the same on page 21? That's totally distracted me now. Ha-ha...
Regardless of the build up, Hana's inevitable failure to deny her feelings resonated (painfully) with me. I appreciate the entire handling of that sequence--from her maintaining a "I'm fine" facade to finish her shift and her day only to break down when she's finally alone with her thoughts in the tub. Hina's homophobia is so internalized she cannot have a clue as to the damage she wrought with that off-handed "explanation" for the confusion.
Hana is developing nicely. I hope we get to see some progress in Hina beyond closeted blushes over touching, etc.
...The third panel with the two girls ladies each other reminded me of FF. So glad the black-hair girl's personality was so "loud" that association was shattered.
The last scene was...a bit odd for me, with the boyfriend being mentioned again. (I kind of thought he had the "ex" label by this point.) This toon seems to be straightforward though, so I guess whatever this is will be cleared up in the next chap.
Yep, the last chapter, especially, has me thinking none of the girls end up with one another. Plus, it seems to me that Washio and Kotooka are steadfastly looking the other direction.
I found the last Tsukasa installment, chapter 18, a little interesting in that she seems to have matured a bit in her understanding of feelings. It sees less all consuming. I feel that maybe...Tsukasa is less caught up than the other girls. She seems to be appreciating it, but...not believing or hoping that Washio will turn to her.
I guess it's yet another "they're all different": steadfast Washio, in-denial Kotooka and basking-in-her feelings Tsukasa. Active, denial, passive. ...with respect to moving toward a romantic relationship.
The boys' plot is still more interesting, but I'm back to considering Tsukasa main again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I felt and feel the same way about all of those points @MacySan.
It's ...odd how complicated the plot id for the lack of it. So far this is one big setup--a series of gatchas. There's been little to no narrative progression. Learning moments for each of the characters are few: the boys leading, then Kotooka. The latest flavor of "x knows, but y doesn't know" is willful ignorance. (Subaru wants to remain in the dark about his sister's love interest.)
One one hand, I'm impressed that we have two characters in a love triangle that have noticed each other's feelings; on the other hand, ...they are both still pretty immature and opt to hold onto their "secrets".
I guess it's a cultural difference, but...man, the lack of communication in these romance manga's is aggravating at times. They always do this angst-generating (chapter-generating) dance. One talk could solve so many problems...
I was pleased by Washio's whole crying breakdown, but then she just... rolls over. Lame. I can't say her choice is realistic, especially for a middle schooler??, but she was already the boring, too-perfect knight in my head. This is just makes her more boring.
I'm down to only liking Tsukasa and Asakura--as individuals--not as a couple. They're the only characters whose flaws don't rub me the wrong way. I actually find Asakura somewhat interesting. He's cool, or something. Not perfect, comfortable in his own skin and not too put-together. And he stated his feelings outright (at least once). Tsukasa... is a typical pure-hearted-supportive-friend protagonist at this point. I have to remind myself she's one of the main characters, but I don't have any reason to dislike her.
The brother needs to go...or someone needs to call an intervention. So much lying. Ugh!
Kotooka is by far the most interesting character, albeit the most divisive (in this forum and in the story). She can even make Washio seem interesting. I don't see this as a dark series, but if it were, watching her self-destruct could raise this story a level in my eyes.
@Author, please show these characters maturing into more appealing people (preferably sooner rather than later).
Kotooka is really damn good at self-destructing.
She's the human incarnation of a trainwreck.
I agree. She is self destructive, but I find this quality in her refreshing, actually.
I was kind of in the "rolling my eyes" spot when she was being built up as the character feel sorry for and the fans collapsed into her wagon. I mean, it's fine, expected, but...expected is boring to me. That said...the author hasn't yet given us many options because even though Shiratori seems to be the primary protagonist, Kotooka is the most complex character at this point. She's the most interesting character right now, but I hope ...the author develops all three girls more.
Lots of teenager--and just people, in general--are like Kotooka. Hide behind boyfriends, etc., to cover up personal insecurities. There are much more cliché ways of portraying a Kotooka-like character, so I'm still happy with the development of her character portrait. (I'm thinking that the span of time covered is still short, so from chapter-to-chapter we're getting a better sense of who she is and not so much seeing growth in her character, yet.)
As for the chapter, I enjoyed reading it with multiple lenses, with reader knowledge versus Kotooka's knowledge versus Shiratori, etc. The disparate knowledge gives us a very concrete means of evaluating character's reactions differently. In short, I'm enjoying the author's exaggerated?? focus on incomplete knowledge. For example, when we see the half-smile on Washio's face at advising Kotooka, it carries much more meaning (for us readers) than the last time we saw that expression.
Content wise, I'm with a number of other folks in that I have no sympathy for public outing. If she really wanted to help them, she could talk to Washio and Shiratori individually, but she was near to just giving into her own sense of frustration.
Another thought about the Washio advice sequence: It was kind of off putting. I'm with Kotooka on that one. She didn't ask Washio to save anything. A bit presumptuous. I don't know if the author is intentionally giving Washio a bit of a hero-complex flaw or something. Maybe not, given how people seem to be reacting to Kotooka in this chapter. I still see Washio as an unknown, but I'd like to play a bit of devil's advocate and say that Kotooka's not the only one with room to grow here.
Nothing's come close to this series for me. I'm not saying that there aren't other good manga or manwha or toons or whatever, but even this setting... It's more mature than the high school stuff, not about over-the-top angst or drama like some of the relatively fewer, other college-setting yuri stories and the art style...
No art like Ssamba's in any ongoing story. My reading filter is so high now... Still waiting for another manga or manwha to come around to capture my interest. I don't care how long I have to wait. So over high school and faux angst dramas. But, seriously, the art, nothing like it.
Glad to have this back. I'm a total sucker for the 'high concept speculative fiction as a metaphor for adolescence' trope. I swear I've read a million stories where the protagonist has to lose magic to become an adult or find love but the conceit has yet to grow old on me. That sweet, sad loss of innocence and invulnerability just maps perfectly onto my experience of being human.
Murakami's emptiness is heartbreaking. I almost wish I were Moritani so I could reach out to her myself.
@Substance I like this summary.
This chapter gave the story more weight. A pleasing update.