Riwo & Mieno Saori “Hakumokuren ga Saita nara”
It came in the mail today—the first tankoubon of Riwo and Mieno Saori’s amazing joint story Hakumokuren ga Saita nara. I know I have probably talked the bejeezus out of this manga but I just. I seriously love it so much. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so insanely excited about an ongoing manga, but this one is just truly brilliant. Mieno Saori’s art is amazingly beautiful and it goes so well with the interesting, dramatic story that Riwo has crafted.
(Though first, yes, you must get over the fact that there is technically no such thing as male-female identical twins. But let’s just stretch reality for a moment because this manga is so totally worth it. I promise.)
As many of you who have already read my HertZ posts know, Hakumokuren ga Saita nara is the story of two identical twins Nagi (male) and Nagisa (female) and the young man Shiina who is caught between them. Ever since first seeing him in sixth grade Nagi has admired and been interested in Shiina, who is talented in karate and also a gentle, kind young man. However, the only one of the twins that Shiina is interested is the beautiful, sweet Nagisa whom he has always known simply as ‘Nagi’ when he first met her years and years ago. After three years of studying in America, the two twins return to find that Shiina has been pining after Nagisa all this while—to the point of openly embracing her the second he sees her at their high school. But now the kind, beautiful ‘Nagi’ Shiina knew is different: brash, strong and perfectly fine with openly stating how much she hates men. And Shiina finally takes notice of her brother, Nagi, who is sweet and gentle and much more feminine. What’s with the sudden change in personality? Why does Shiina’s amazing feminine beauty ‘Nagi’ suddenly seem like a different person altogether?
I finally got to read the first chapter! THIS IS SO EXCITING. For the longest time I was missing the first chapter and didn’t think I properly understood the story, so I’m happy to be able to read it. Pretty much all I can say is that it makes the story just that much better. In the entire first chapter it’s almost like a shoujo manga—I hadn’t realized that it isn’t until the very end of chapter two that they give away the fact that Nagi and Nagisa are actually switching their roles with Nagi as the female and Nagisa as the male. (Except for during gym class, which is the only time Nagi and Nagisa are respectively male and female.) It has yet to be stated outright exactly why the twins are doing this (at least not to the knowledge of my intermediate-level reading comprehension rofl) but so far it’s hinted that Nagi wanted to have a chance to get closer to Shiina and this was the way they decided to do it. But that seems weird, because you’d think that if Nagi weren’t already romantically interested in Shiina then he wouldn’t want to meet him again as a female but instead as another young man who is just interested in karate. What happened in the past that Shiina, Nagi and Nagisa are tangled up in?
Going through the tankoubon, I can’t help but notice that pretty much every scene is amazing. Which is why I didn’t want to do a proper review on this blog (instead, I might do one on wearefujoshi where I have to keep it short)—I know that I’ll just ramble and describe every scene in the book. Every two or three pages where’s a panel or scene where I want to take a picture of it and post it here or even just describe it. This story is just so perfectly planned-out and illustrated.
Shiina Masaki is a fabulous character—wanko seme in every sense. He is so pitifully dedicated to and in love with Nagi while not properly realizing (though he has technically realized it in that he only becomes flustered with Nagi—whether Nagi is dressed in male or female clothing) that it’s not Nagisa he’s after. Even when Nagi is mean and almost verbally abusive toward Shiina, he loves Nagi so much that he just thinks it’s cute and takes Nagi’s attitude with a smile. Nagi is very cute, though, seriously. You can tell that he wants to let Shiina be close to him and wants to allow Shiina to live out his dream of being with Nagisa even if it means Nagi has to pretend to be his sister while the man he adores showers him with love meant for the wrong person. But Nagi is also smart and knows that nothing good will come out of letting Shiina love him as Nagisa—it will only lead Shiina on and hurt Nagi even more. Even when Shiina kisses him, Nagi wants it but the entire time he’s thinking that Shiina is kissing the wrong person—a kiss meant for Nagisa and not for himself. It’s really quite sad. ;w;
This book actually doesn’t even include chapter four—only the first three chapters (as all the chapters for this story are very long, so it probably wouldn’t fit) and then an extra showing when Nagi and Nagisa first see Masaki at a karate tournament and how it completely changes Nagi. The book itself is absolutely beautiful; the cover has a shiny pearl hue to it and the back and cover illustrations are stunning. Then there’s the obi which is made of delicate, see-through paper with pink and shiny silver inking, and then the atogaki and ‘upcoming’ illustrations and the color insert.
Everything about this book is so very elegant and pretty. I’ve barely been able to put it down since it arrived four hours ago.
But I did put it down long enough to read the latest chapter in HertZ, which is just dsgl;j;sgh;ls ahhhhh oh god. /;w;\ Poor Nagi, yet at the same time it feels like Shiina has actually realized on some level that it’s not Nagisa whom he’s in love with but instead Nagi. In this chapter Nagi and Shiina spent pretty much the entire time as two young men together and even without the dress and wig Nagi was constantly making Shiina flustered and unsure of himself. I felt terrible when Nagi’s old boyfriend (actually, I believe it was Nagisa’s old boyfriend, not Nagi’s) showed up, but it really seemed to give Shiina that necessary push forward—now he thinks that Nagi has dated men before and so he seems to have become less worried about what would happen if it really is Nagi whom he’s in love with. He held Nagi’s hand and told him that he didn’t want to accept that Nagi had dated other random men, and while it seemed like Nagi would finally confess he instead shrunk more into his shell and only worried that Shiina was seeing Nagisa inside of him and that was the only reason he was bothered by the appearance of past boyfriends. Then their scene was broken up by Nagisa calling Nagi to pick her up, and Shiina told Nagi to forget what he’d said and ran off. The end of chapter five. /o\
And then! Making this even worse!! There isn’t going to be another chapter in the next issue of HertZ, making it a four-month wait until I get to see what happens next. ;w; Oh man. I won’t get another chapter until February 2011. Until then, I guess I’ll just reread the first tankoubon and the other two chapter 395723052 more times and daydream about a fluffy ending in which Shiina and Nagi are together and happy.
But I must say that it’s cute and encouraging that Nagi is finally being less tsundere about his attraction to Shiina. For a while I was worried that if it didn’t become more concrete between Shiina and Nagi then there would be a chance that Akira and Nagi would actually end up together. I’m kind of hoping Nagisa ends up with Akira, to be honest—they’re so cute when they’re with each other. *A* Even though Akira is of course still under the impression that Nagisa is actually her brother.