In high school, Ryouko introduces her boyfriend, Otoumi Kou, to her best male friend, Yajima Yukari. Upon their first meeting, neither of them think highly of the other. It isn't until they get to know one another do they realize that their first impressions were sorely off key.
Despite Ryouko and Otoumi's break up sometime later, five years have passed and Otoumi and Yajima remain good friends. Always going out of their way to see one another occasionally, even if it it's not always an appropriate time.
It isn't until Otoumi's graduation does he get a confession from a school mate, Ochiyama, leaving Otoumi heavily confused. When he starts hanging around Ochiyama and even kisses him, Yajima is left confused about his own feelings towards Otoumi.
With the two of them confused, their friendship takes a dangerous and unusual turn. Will they realize the others feelings? or will they be forced to part ways?
I've read a fair share of shounen-ai mangas, and I must say, that this is, by far, the best one I have come across so far. It is a beautiful love story, which follows the development of new feelings between two friends, as well as their reluctance to act on those feelings.
What I especially enjoyed in was the fact that this manga deals not only with their love life, but also with their work, family and friends, and how it all relates and influences their relationship.
It is a well rounded story of everyday things two people in love go through. And it would not
be a rounded story if it didn't go beyond implying that the relationship between the characters is sexual. It contains a few somewhat explicit scenes, so if you don't like that...well, I thought you oughta know.
Another positive thing is that the story does not finish once they get together. It shows that a love story is not only a story about 'the hunt' but also about living together, doing the chores, and going on each other's nerves.
All in all, in my personal opinion, Hitomi no Ounowa is not only the best shounen ai manga I've read. I would expand the classification and call it the best romance manga I've had the pleasure of reading.
This story is actually pretty good but I feel that several errors (had they not occurred) would have made it so much better.
First of all, I really liked the idea. Two guys who have known each other for several years remain friends but eventually, things take a more romantic turn when one of them realizes he “likes” the other. Of course, there’s the stress of the whole “we’re both men” and “I bet he finds it disgusting” or my favorite “he can’t possibly like me as well”. Naturally, they both like each other so things progress well enough. The ending is really cute and
probably one of my favorites.
However, throughout the series there’s a definite neglect to time lapse. It all pretty much feels the same and for the most part the characters don’t age or grow noticeably different to mark the passage of time. There’s also no announcement like “5 years later” or such in or around the beginning of the chapter to make the transition smooth. Instead, you have to wait for the dialogue to inform you of this point. It just doesn’t flow well, in my opinion, and with a little extra attention to this detail the series could have been a bit better.
The second thing I didn’t like, was the lack of obvious expression. Otoumi remains fairly impassive and expressionless throughout the series. This in itself is not bad, however, coupled with the fact that he doesn’t really have a cool and calm personality, it just didn’t work for me. I could never really tell whether what the dialogue said was actually true or not because his expressions never really coordinated with it very well. Don’t get me wrong, Otoumi had expressions but nothing…interesting. He would blush or look away when embarrassed or flustered and in some of the more explicit scenes a gentler expression would be shown but I can’t really call those expressions if that’s all he has. Had his personality been more compatible with this “expressionlessness” then I think it would have worked, but since that isn’t the case…it was a bit of a letdown.
Another thing I didn’t like, was the fact that a lot of the female characters looked way too much like Otoumi. Perhaps this is just me being a poor reader, but a few times I even confused a female character with Otoumi, and wondered what the heck was going on. Granted, most times you can tell by the clothing, but I just think the similarity was too much. At least, have them drawn with a different hair style or hair color to make it more obvious.
Finally, I feel like this manga’s pacing was inconsistent. At times, I got to watch the characters interacting slowly and painfully, just like a real relationship. The actual timeline between when Otoumi begins acting strange and realizes he likes Yukari, to the time when they both actually confess and begin a relationship is quite long. (Though even in this the lack of detail in regards to the reader is poor.) At other times, I was thrust into a completely different time with no explanation why. I didn’t get to see Yukari and Otoumi move in together or their insecurities about any of that. Not to mention the opening of Yukari’s shop, which had been his dream for several years. There could have been a lot of potentially fulfilling material there. For instance, Otoumi could have helped Yukari design the store and decorate it. He could have helped pick out silverware, plates, cups, etc. They could have bonded over the experience and Yukari could have been shown really appreciating Otoumi’s presence and input during such a stressful period. I feel like this would have given a lot of depth to the characters and solidified their relationship for the reader. For the end, during Yukari’s birthday, the chapter was short and there was hardly any dialogue, or internal dialogue either, so this very touching moment was sort of ruined for me. Like it was just an afterthought the author came up with on a whim and decided to include in the volume.
So, to sum it all up, the character’s come across as fairly superficial, due to a lack of attention to detail and commitment to show the character’s relationship. The time lapse is a bother and, for me, it just doesn’t work. The similarity in character design is troublesome. The disregard for the reader, also caused the series to slide down in my opinion.
Now, since I am also a writer (though not of manga, just stories) I can understand how hard the author worked on it and I applaud them for it. In the end, the story was cute and quaint but not particularly original. Overall, I enjoyed the series, but did have some difficulty reading it smoothly. A little more attention to the reader and this would have been an amazing series.