I’m back for the first Manga Reading Challenge (MRC) post! The first book that I picked out for this challenge was Croquis, a book that I’d bought…a while ago?…and while I was reading it I noticed the art was super familiar. I couldn’t really place from where but I was 100% sure I owned at least one other book by the same person so I began looking through my yaoi shelf. Turns out I owned 6 other ones, haha
I was originally going to make a post encompassing all 7 books but it was getting too long so I thought otherwise (what was I thinking?).
Instead, what I’m going to do is dedicate a week to Hinako Takanagi’s books! Or at least the ones I own. Epically failed but please check out my other posts about her books, will be linking them to this post 😀
Croquis (this post)
Little Butterfly v1 – 3
You Will Drown In Love
While doing some research I was surprised to find out that this person is also the author of The Tyrant Falls in Love, which was a manga that I just couldn’t read at all. I just really hated the way one of the MCs was a homophobe and yeah…maybe I’ll give it another shot since I really liked these books I’ve listed!
But back to MAL’s MRC
Prompt: Read a manga with a one word title
Croquis is a one volume yaoi manga consisting of 3 stories: Croquis, On My First Love, and Wish Upon a Star. This manga went from ‘so cute and adorable’ to ‘my heart is breaking’ in just a couple chapters.
So we start off with Croquis (chapters 1-4), which is about an art student named Shinji Kaji and an androgynous model Sasahara. Sasahara is actually working multiple jobs in order to save up money for a gender reassignment surgery, however, after Kaji finds out about this Sashara begins to have doubts. He had wanted to do the operation because it seemed like the best way for him and his attraction towards men to be accepted but now Kaji was actually reciprocating his feelings regardless of his gender.
One of the reasons this story stole my heart was because one of the main characters was an artist. Being an artist myself, it’s nice to read stories with characters I can relate to on some level and seeing Kaji’s messy studio and him being in tight financial situations was interesting to me (funny too). I don’t have my place as messy as Kaji’s since I only really have my room but I feel like I’m getting there, haha.
Another reason is that the topic being discussed was something very different than what I’m used to: sex changes and transgendered people. I don’t feel like I can comment much on the subject but I really liked how Sasahara had this complex about his gender and we could see that with the misunderstanding with Kaji’s figure in his painting, the way he completely blew up when he noticed he was drawn without a penis (he was modeling for Kaji).
He’s a character that I feel is really depends on how others view him and it’s a pretty scary thing to think about. My feeling on the subject is that if you’re planning to have a sex change, it should be because you honestly feel it’s the right thing to do. Here Sasahara initially felt that but once he met Kaji that decision wavers. I can’t even imagine what would happen if they ever broke up or if another misunderstanding happened.
There was also a scene where Sasahara accidentally listens to one of his co-workers (friends?) named Yumiko who is telling about how her boyfriend reacted to their first time having sex. Apparently Yumiko had yet to get rid of her male genitals and her boyfriend made a big deal out of it, even after she’d warned him about it. In the end Sasahara and Yumiko get into this big fight because Sasahara’s cute stories about him and Kaji were annoying her, especially since they’d yet to have sex (which seems to be this Ultimate Test and it’s only after this that you know if your partner truly doesn’t mind you having a penis).
I guess I liked that scene because it shows that not everything is fine and there’s more than one story. It’s also this fight that gets our two lovely main characters into bed.
The next story is On My First Love (chapters 5 & 7), which is told from two perspectives.
The first is by Tori, a rather studious looking student who keeps to himself, and his encounter with his first love. We learn that he’s really good friends with one of the more outgoing and popular kids at school, Kamota, because they share the same interest in books. Unlike our first story this romance doesn’t end in cuteness and happiness. In fact, it’s the complete opposite (kind of). The first chapter shows how Tori only realized that he was in love with Kamota after he’d been lost to him while on a school trip to the beach. Six years later he finds out that what he’d seen that day was actually a misunderstanding.
In chapter seven we are told the story from Kamota’s point of view, which is actually a slightly scary and dangerous view, bordering on rape (though nothing technically happened, he just thought it). At the same time I also enjoyed the contrast of his darker thoughts coupled with his very innocent and cheerful behavior towards others (you’d never think he wanted to devour Tori-tan)
I feel like this story was too short for me to properly say much of anything other than that I was really sad about how the two main characters became estranged after they graduated from school. That’s something that I feel is common and it really made me think about the people I’ve not talked to in forever. At the same time though there’s a note of hope because the two main characters exchange information, giving the impression that they’ll keep in touch.
In the end though, I did enjoy the fact that Kamota and Tori didn’t get together. If they were to get together I could see it more in their later years since they’d be actually aware of their attraction for each other.
We have two childhood friends Sei Mayama and Daiki who have vastly different opinions on the stars. For one, Daiki loves the stars and is even the captain of the astronomy club at school, while Sei absolutely hates them because the whole ‘make a wish on a star’ tale in BS. One day, Sei finds out that Daiki applied to a school out of town and goes to confront him about it, especially after Daiki had told him he would be applying to a school in town. This appears to be important because Sei is still a sophomore and Daiki is graduating that year. If Daiki were to go to a college out of town Sei wouldn’t see him for a long time.
Like all other stories, they confess and they live happily ever after. The end. (Basically). I didn’t really care for the characters in this story, which was actually really sad since the manga was going so well from the start. It was also weird to place this in-between On My First Love, especially when you see there’s hardly any transition between the two stories.
I guess I just wished this story had been omitted and developed further elsewhere, or had just been placed at the end (maybe).
Some things I really enjoyed about Croquis was that the characters actually felt like real people facing real life problems, the characters were (for the most part) older and not in high school, and the art (while sloppy looking) really made the characters expressive and energetic.
On the downside, each story seemed to decrease in quality after the first one (though I have to admit that On My First Love struck me the most).
This is the second book I’ve read by Hinako Takanagi 🙂