I guess it's obvious by now, especially if you've read my Q.E.D. and Remote ramblings, that I have a fondness for relatively low-key manga and manhwa. "Relatively" because they're not altogether obscure—major players (TOKYOPOP for Remote, Gramedia for Q.E.D.) released them outside Japan after all.
To continue the precedent, I present the next manga to hog the spotlight: a shoujo series created by 藤原 よしこ Fujiwara Yoshiko-sensei—KISS, Zekkou, KISS or to use its release title here in Jakarta, I Hate You But I Love You. (Yeah, I cringed over what Hikaru from Ouran would've called its
awesome naming sense, too.)
Originally conceived as a one-shot (if you can call a two-parter that), KISS, Zekkou, KISS proved popular enough to be elevated to series status, kinda like… hmm… lemme think, Shinozuka Hiromu-sensei's Mirumo de Pon? So about a year after the initial story was released by Shogakukan, the KISS series started publication. According to the KISS, Zekkou, KISS project page and my own research, it spans 11 tankoubon. In Indonesia, five I Hate You But I Love You volumes have already been published (as at original blog post publication, including volume 0).
My introduction to the キス、絶交、キス series was the Indonesian version of the original story released without fanfare by Elex Media in 2005. That it was published under the shoujo line Serial Cantik ("Beautiful Series" – with its Pepto-Bismol-pink heart logo, cringe again) didn't even deter me; I scooped it up, suppressed the blush, and plonked it down in front of the bookstore cashier.
And am I glad I did.
KISS, Zekkou, KISS tells the story of Sakisaka Mao and Hatori Yuuya, two kids who have known each other since grade school. The original installments follow Mao and Yuuya's relationship from their pre-teen days through to their graduation from chuugakkou.
Since elementary school, Sakisaka has attracted attention for pulling in consistent A's, while Hatori's claim to fame rests on his role as the class clown. Sakisaka is less than impressed by the popular Hatori's antics, and being classmates aside, "close" would be the last word used to describe their relationship. In fact, a certain incident after school even makes Sakisaka loathe Hatori. A cold war ensues, one that lasts until the pair enters junior high.
Just what exactly happened?
(I can't resist. *** SPOILER!!! *** Here's what (obviously) happened.)
Based on the above translation/rewrite of Elex's I Hate You But I Love You back cover blurb, the story's shaping up to be predictable with a capital P, right? But it's that anticipation that proferred the hook I bit. I just wub childhood sweethearts (Ryouki and Hatsumi from Hot Gimmick, anyone? ^^)
In any case, it wasn't all Obvious from kilometers away. Fujiwara Yoshiko-sensei put her own spin on KISS, Zekkou, KISS by telling the story of Sakisaka and Hatori in two parts: one from the point of view of Sakisaka, the other from Hatori's POV. Albeit not totally ground-breaking, the head-switching style eventually became this manga's story-telling convention.
to invest or not to invest?
We'll consider that a rhetorical question.
Probably because of my low expectations, KISS, Zekkou, KISS ended up blowing me away. (I'm a light-weight that way.) And as I write this, trying to recall why I loved it so much, the thing that immediately came to mind was that separate POV style. I adored the extended treatment given the story. Telling it once was not enough; telling it twice lifted it to the realm of the divine.
(Let's leave out the fact that I can't resist Hatori angsting.)
So it wasn't so much because of the mechanics, but more for the outcome: the creation of warm and fuzzy. Being privy to both Mao and Yuuya's thoughts made their story stronger, more memorable.
My evidence—I can remember these without cracking open volume 0:
- A precocious Hatori bragging about having kissed a girl, in Mao's hearing
- The aforementioned incident after school involving the two
- Mao tying a napping Yuuya's shoelaces
- Yuuya rescuing a swimsuit-clad Mao who couldn't get out the locker room because jealous swim teammates hid her uniform
- Mao's graduation speech
You can say that repetition will do that (aid the remembering), but my point remains that the repeating ratcheted the WAFF. Anyway, the Mao and Yuuya relationship was sufficiently yummy that it merited, no, demanded, a retelling. So, kudos to Fujiwara-sensei for making that call.
And it also doesn't hurt that her chara designs are totally kawaii and the introduction of "the other man" to up the emotional stakes doesn't irritate.
Rating KISS, Zekkou, KISS
10 of 10 pairs of untied shoelaces
(My shippiness rating for KISS, Zekkou, KISS, also 10, is based exclusively on the original story but it's maintaining for the series)
The キス、絶交、キス－ボクらの場合－ KISS, Zekkou, KISS~Bokura no baai series, what I've read of it, seems a tad… uneven when compared with its sublime beginning. The evolution of Mao and Yuuya's relationship, the near-insurmountable obstacles placed in the pair's path and the resulting angst—whether internally or externally driven—seem forced.
I guess that's one of the drawbacks of turning KISS, Zekkou, KISS into a series. Had Mao and Yuuya not caught a break every now and then, I would've dropped this from my reading list. (It's a good thing that Fujiwara-sensei has the knack of handing the reader what s/he wants before the frustration meter gives out.)
There are also instances where the sequel doesn't suffer in comparison with its precursor. Like in dialogue. It holds it own there. My favorite lines of the series (thus far) actually come from volume four. Per the KISS, Zekkou, KISS tradition, I'm starting with Mao and ending with Yuuya:
Kamu lebih cocok dengan rambut pirang.
(You look better with blonde hair.)
With tears in her eyes, Mao tells this to Yuuya after he dyes his blonde hair back to black to impress Mao's mom when he first meets her. From that one unassuming, more-left-unsaid line, you can so feel how much Mao wubs Yuuya, bleached hair and all.
Izinkan saya mengantar Mao sampai depan rumah?
(Please allow me to escort Mao to your front door?)
This was the last line written on the script Yuuya brought with him when he went to visit Mao and her mom on the latter's behest. He thought he'd lost it but Mao's mother found the scrap of paper after he'd left. Oh, the utter yearning! It speaks volumes about just how much Yuuya was suffering at being forbidden to walk his girlfriend home because her parents don't approve of him. Kyaaa! (k, that was my one fangirly scream for the post).
I look forward to the upcoming volume.
Prequel toka, sequel toka ga suki desu. Hope I sed that right. I'm so invested in KISS, Zekkou, KISS that it makes me wish I were an anime producer so that I can pitch it for production (hey, Mirumo de Pon became an anime, too, right?)
Oh. BTW. Other manga by Fujiwara Yoshiko-sensei include: Kimi no Koto Bakari (Always Thinking of You) and Tokyo Sabotage. Both were published in Indonesia by Elex Media. (You can find cover scans in Fujiwara-sensei's backlist.)
~niki DBA 花木兰03 who considers Fujiwara Yoshiko-sensei a goddess on par with Nakajo Hisaya-sensei, Tsuda Masami-sensei, Watase Yuu-sensei, Aihara Miki-sensei, Hino Matsuri-sensei, and other stars in the shoujo manga firmament
complete KISS, Zekkou, KISS and Fujiwara Yoshiko links
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volumes 0, 1-4
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volume five
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volume six
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volume seven
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volume eight
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volume nine
Review: KISS, Zekkou, KISS volume ten (series finale)
Backlist: Fujiwara Yoshiko
KISS, Zekkou, KISS and KISS, Zekkou, KISS ~Bokura no baai~ are © Fujiwara Yoshiko. First published by Shogakukan in 2001. I Hate You But I Love You Indonesian copyright by PT Elex Media Komputindo. No infringement intended.
All other content (editorial and such) are huamulan03's. If for some strange reason you're moved to repost these summaries and/or review (or any of my content) elsewhere, do link back and attribute. DO NOT alter, transform, or build upon as this is licensed under Creative Commons. Thank you for the courtesy.