Kojima Lalako “Kimi ni Utsuru Hoshi”
Yeah, I caved and bought Moca this past month. I bet none of you are surprised. Just another show of my extreme lack of patience when it comes to artists I really really like. And it was really all-around a terrible idea to buy Moca because now I know what kind of great stories run in there and all the amazing artists and I’m kind of… hooked. orz;;;;
But I’m getting off-topic. The only story I’ll be talking about this time around is Kojima Lalako’s oneshot. Definitely worth the purchase, I can assure you! All the fluff in this story more than makes up for all the weird angst in her story currently running in HertZ.
The plot starts out with Kazuya, who recently moved from Tokyo to the boonies, writing a letter to his Tokyo girlfriend Mari-chan. He still isn’t really acclimated to life in this new place and hasn’t really made any friends, so he spends his time writing back and forth to Mari and wishing he could go back. However, that’s until Kenji suddenly pops into his line of vision one day and asks who he’s writing to. Kenji is a somewhat weird, happy-go-lucky boy who is perhaps ditzy but nonetheless nice. Instead of getting his answer and moving along, Kenji decides to sit down and write with Kazu. Not to a girlfriend or anything, but to his grandpa.
It seems Kenji is somewhat of a ‘grandpa’s boy’—he loves and admires his grandfather, and is very close to him. One day while walking home together Kenji promises to have Kazu meet his grandpa, but that’s until tragedy strikes: later on while at school, the teacher approaches Kazu and asks him to deliver Kenji’s homework as he couldn’t come to school since he was attending his grandpa’s funeral.
So Kazu goes to meet him and sees him slowly trailing at the end of the funeral procession. Kenji says he’s sorry that he lied and actually can’t introduce Kazu to his grandpa, and Kazu replies that he shouldn’t worry about it. To Kazu’s surprise Kenji grabs onto him and holds him tight, evidently finally able to cry over the death of his most precious person.While Kazu is awkward at first he eventually hugs Kenji back, also on the verge of tears, and silently tries to comfort him.
From there, Kenji and Kazu start to get closer and Kazu becomes more physically aware of Kenji’s presence. The next time Kenji sees Kazu writing a letter to his girlfriend in class, face still puffy from crying over his grandfather’s death, he once again sits to write one with him. Kazu assumes Kenji is writing something to his dead grandpa, but once Kenji gets up he hands the letter to Kazu instead. Attached inside if a four-leaf clover and the words “you can give this to your girlfriend.” For some reason Kazu blushes at that, flustered by Kenji’s show of kindness.
But when Kazu gets home his mother hands him a new letter from Mari-chan, saying they should break up. Upset, Kazu tries to storm out of the house but instead runs into Kenji on his front step to deliver a thank-you gift for being there for him. Kazu and Kenji walk together side-by-side through the empty streets and Kazu admits he was dumped, saying that perhaps his feeling and Mari’s feelings really didn’t reach each other after all. Unhappy seeing Kazu’s expression looking so empty, Kenji leans over and does the one thing he can think of: a kiss. He tells Kazu he will immortalize himself in a robot and be together with Kazu forever. Kazu is shocked but doesn’t pull away, instead asking when exactly Kenji is going to do this. When Kenji says perhaps a hundred or so years from now, Kazu says it’s too heavy to make promises that are so far-off. But Kenji reassures him, saying they’re friends so it’s okay to make heavy promises.
Kazu isn’t sure what’s come over him or what it means, but he just wants to keep this closeness with Kenji, keep kissing Kenji. He wonders when they meet next what kind of face he should make. And the story ends like that, with them standing as if the world around them doesn’t exist and sharing the most innocent kiss while holding hands.
For me, this story really left a huge impact. I probably didn’t explain it very well, but it’s incredibly bitter and then incredibly sweet. I love how Kojima Lalako added all these sad, horrible things that gave the characters and their meeting so much depth but she didn’t make them superficially dramatic or cheesy. I loved how they were able to lean against each other to move on, first with Kenji’s grandfather and then with Kazu’s breakup with the last person he had ties to at his previous home.
I also love how Kojima really left a lot open to consideration. There are a lot of scenes where the feelings of the characters aren’t really spelled out for you. For instance, when Kenji gives Kazu the letter with the clover attached and then Kazu has this flustered face. You don’t really know what exactly Kazu is thinking at that moment, or why he’s making the face he is. Is it because Kazu showed such gentleness after what was possibly the hardest day of his life? Was it because Kenji wrote the letter to Kazu and not his grandfather and Kazu read it as an act of affection and became embarrassed? Or was it maybe because Kenji suddenly reminded him that he had a girlfriend while Kazu was already being so incredibly aware of Kenji’s presence? It’s hard to know for sure exactly when Kazu starts to have feelings for Kenji, so it’s hard to read his reactions to the other boy.
Anyway I thought this was really a beautiful story and if only it was released in an actual comic instead of just an anthology I would be pestering you all to go out and buy it as soon as possible. As much as I (obviously) love all of Kojima’s stories thusfar, and I think this one is my very favorite. So beautiful and sweet. I don’t know how Kojima Lalako does it, but she gets me every time.