Heisuke is a young man who was left in charge of taking care of his little cousin Aki for a day. Being an only child who usually stays at home alone, Aki is quiet, reserved, and will go out of his way not to make trouble for others. As they spend more time together, Aki begins to grow very attached to Heisuke, especially since Heisuke's hobby is to make sweets and desserts. The quiet Aki eventually opens up to Heisuke, and Heisuke in return teaches Aki that sometimes it's all right to be selfish and say what you really want to do.
(Source: Bliss Scanlations)
Volume 2: Fuyume (Winter Sprouts)
5-year-old Aki-kun is a child of few words. Despite his tender age, he is very helpful (he does house chores by himself), and very selfless.
So it might have been a mistake to have his cousin Heisuke babysit him. Heiskue is a self-centered high schooler who'd rather think about sweets and cooking than anything else. And his first time watching Aki, he decides to leave him alone at the house for an hour so he can go shopping for snacks.
As little Aki is drawing with crayons, he hands him a pack of colored pencils. "Do you want to use these?"
takes the box, and stares at it intently.
"I'm going to the convenience store for a bit."
Aki looks at the table and bobs his head in a nod, clutching the pencils to his chest.
"It should be alright to leave him," Heisuke tells himself as he heads out the door.
After his friend and mother berate him for his poor decision, Heisuke begins to take his babysitting responsibilities more seriously. And he notices that Aki is actually a very lonely child, with no friends. And because of his selflessness, he often lets his feelings be ignored.
"He was watching a TV show this morning," says Aki's mom, "and his dad came in and changed the channel. Aki was shocked, but he held back and let dad have the TV."
Yes, it might have been a mistake to have Heisuke be Aki's official babysitter. But it turns out that each has something to teach the other. "It's OK to be selfish sometimes," Heisuke tells Aki. And Aki in turn teaches the always-selfish Heisuke to consider other people's feelings.
Anyone who remembers what it was like to be a kid of Aki's age, especially if you were bashful or very sensitive, will sympathize with him. He is a very "real" and dimensional child. Too many young children in manga are simplistic and precocious. It's like they were all cut out with the same cookie cutter. And I thought that Aki was going to be like that too at first. But soon I found that there was more to the little guy. Aki's guilt when he thinks he caused Heisuke's cold was almost heartbreaking. When dad asks him what he wants to be when he grows up, he promptly says "Heesuke."
The story's atmosphere is slice-of-life drama. I guess it would be a shoujo, but it wasn't really "girly." The art was fairly simple and clean. The general feel of the manga felt like something from Yuki Midorikawa (author of "Natsume's Book of Friends"). There was something very real and refreshing about it. There is also practically no romance. The friendship between Heisuke and Aki is the heart of the story, and there's not much else. There are few characters outside of Heisuke and Aki's families, and Heisuke's close friends from school.
Aki is the cutest child I have seen in manga. It's probably because he doesn't have the oversized round "bug eyes" that most children have in shoujo manga. He by far beats out little Teppei from "Faster than a Kiss." He is wonderfully expressive. Even from his back, you can tell what he's thinking. His stares, glances, bashful blushes; everything about him is done very well. Every time he smiles, I say "Eek!" to myself, he is just so cute.
I'll say that I dislike about half the high-school-life shoujo mangas out there. Their overused school stories, unrealistic characters, and sappy romance. The over-rounded art, and super-stylized "girliness." That's just not my cup of tea. "Flat" filled that niche I needed: a sensitive drama about a high schooler. One that examines a little-covered type of friendship. Simple, somewhat realistic art. Real-life emotions and feelings, especially of a young child. There's nothing extreme about it, but sometimes the most powerful and influential things in life are the simple things.
[[ *I actually don't know if the manga says how old Aki is, but he seems about 4 or 5. ]]
Hmm, The story is about a regular high school boy who had to spend the time with his cousin.
At first I didn't intend to read it cause I was reading Usagi Drop, but after while I thought why shouldn't I give it a try!
and I was amazed Aki-kun is so adorable, when he's shy or want something I keep thinking that I want a child like him!
Heisuke is reminding me a lot about Ginko in Mushishi, not only the drawing even the cold attitude of him!
Any way if I really recommend this manga if you want an easy reading manga
flat is about a laid back teenager who takes care of his reliable, younger cousin. Admittedly, I started reading this today because of a recommendation that someone made about My Girl (Mizu Sahara).
The artwork is pleasant to look at, and it reminds me of Mizu Sahara's art (and her couple other pen names). Although it's categorized as "shoujo," flat doesn't have a typical shoujo storyline and characters and art, which is precisely why I liked this. No huge eyes, no girl falling in love (though [spoiler?] there is one girl who falls in love with the main character, but her personality is such that she
doesn't blush or stutter -- rather, she's blunt and straightforward [/spoiler?]).
I liked the slice-of-life story, which made the episodes not so episodic, and throughout this series, we learn more about the characters, not just the main characters, but also their relationships with others as well as implications of their pasts. Which were more noticeable in the protagonist's friends. flat is a rather well-paced story that allows your mind to absorb information and the panel work is not too detailed nor jarring to the eye.
As for the characters, they seem normal and act realistically given their situations. However, the cousin can easily become emotional which can annoy some people, but it's understandable due to his family life and lack of friends. The mangaka uses that to her advantage to worry the other characters and advance the story.
One small improvement would be coloring the manga pages. It seems to be watercolor, but I would like to see these pages more integrated with that medium, perhaps similar to Mizu Sahara's colored manga pages.
For a debuting mangaka, this is already a great manga and I hope to see more works from her. Apparently, this manga was serialized due to popular demand!