Scarred by domestic violence and the sudden departure of her mother and her younger brother, Satsuki doesn't know how to trust people. Renai Anagram is the story of a young woman's struggles to overcome her past and learn how to accept and value herself.
Renai Anagram is a simple, yet powerful story about a woman's life roundabouts, and its greatest merit is the firm characterization of the protagonist, Miyamoto Satsuki, and how she and the people around her wistfully wander through life's complex web of motivations.
As the narrative anachronically reflects upon her defining life's moments, Satsuki's personality and morals are steadily established. What could be considered nefarious acts by the characters in any other manga is poignantly justified here, granting the story an authentic mature feeling. Reality is most of the times not pleasant, people are selfish, things go wrong and sometimes we find ourselves miserable. Anagram earnestly acknowledges
that, but doesn't let it solemn dictate the story.
"I would never abandon myself. I would go on living". As these strong words manifest within her, even though she's going through her lowest, inspiringly hopeful feelings are evoked. Anagram constantly throw juxtaposed situations like that and acts diligently about them; there's a impeccably constructed gray area in the dramatic presentation - A fine balance between struggle, happiness, dismay and hope, what creates a much more reasonable frame about life when describing it so soberly.
To look back and reperceive: to remember past experiences and reflect about them, it bring to characters realizations that confront their own shortcomings of perception, considerations that challenges their own attitudes towards others and themselves. Yet, they cannot always make the right decision. In fact, the manga realizes that there is no such thing as the "right choice", because to acknowledge that is to dwell and blame our past selves instead of learning from it.
The star of this concept is Ryuu, Satsuki's childhood friend whose left side of body is paralyzed, his optimistic nature marked her for a lifetime. Despite his short presence he becomes an incredibly iconic figure inside the story, his cracked smiles and single-eyed tears were nothing but full of touching candid sincerity. An emotionally manipulative factor for sure, but a relief that I couldn't welcome less.
The art is consistently good and exceptionally expressive, but like most josei works tend to do, it mostly relies on simple backgrounds and visual presentation. In parts where the characters interact or make up the environment, the background is decently and enough detailed. However, in most cases the background is pure white; appropriate to highlight the characters' discourse and facial expressions, which are the truly fine aspects of Tendou's Kirin artistic work.
Renai Anagram is an underrated gem even within the niche josei bibliography. Although the disjointed way of storytelling may be strange and sudden at first, I'm sure it can amaze those with the taste for more bittersweet, down-to-earth manga.
This manga... I honestly don't get it. I feel like it tries to be a story about an adult growing and adapting to the world around her, but it just comes out as a gigantic mess that really has no rhyme or reason to exist.
This manga has few redeeming qualities. First, the artstyle is really well done. The backgrounds look nice and all, but its the character designs that really shine. Something I want to note as well is how the first chapter is actually pretty good. But from there, it becomes a mangle of obscure themes and morals that ultimately led to its downfall.
What makes the first chapter good as opposed to the rest of the manga is how much more simplistic its sequence of events are. There were no confusing themes that made the plot unnessesarily confusing and cloudy. The characters also had some interesting personalities as well, in my opinion.
The problem lies within the latter 4 chapters after the 1st chapter, when multiple men were introduced into the fray. All the men involved in this plot were very shallow characters, plot devices used to show how life can be difficult for one woman living alone. The girl would befriend them, and eventually it turns into some sort of love, but... not really? It really becomes confusing. The girl also seemed to have some weird reasons to why she turned down all the men. She also seemed like somewhat of a slut as well, constantly moving from one man to another.
I really didn't get this manga. I feel like it was trying to teach you something, but either I'm unable to find it, or the moral was too contrived in the first place. And I'm thinking the latter.
Enjoyment (not that it matters): 2