Sep 21, 2020
Omoi no Kakera is about love. And loss. And heartbreak. And learning to be intimate. And how to relate to others. And being gay.
A lot of people assume shoujo ai is niche, fluffy bullshit about girls making out. Sometimes, it is. A lot of manga production companies seem unable to make it about anything but that. Omoi no Kakera is not one of those manga. It follows a group of high school girls, some of whom are gay, and a gay guy, and a coffee shop owner.
I think what initially struck me hard about this manga is how real it was. If you've ever been
rejected by your crush, and are mentally old enough to process that mess of emotions beyond incoherent, impotent, shrieking rage, you will understand OnK's atmosphere. It's not a happy story, exactly, for anyone but a side plot pairing, but who ends up together isn't really the point here. It's more about the bittersweet nature of loving someone, and how that can help you grow as a person, even if they don't end up returning your feelings. How you shouldn't have to force yourself to be with anyone just to suit the feelings of others. How people don't just suddenly turn gay, or straight, or always start liking things they find to be a turn off for the sake of plot convenience. That's life, and it's how we deal with it, along with the mutual support of those around us, that really matters. It's a character piece about growing up, without being entirely about people who are still young enough to literally be growing 'up'. Because sometimes, adults need to grow too.
So I can see why that might ruffle some feathers in the GL community, which is by and large a place of cute girls doing cute things, when it isn't essentially a fetish community for straight guys. As a result, OnK has almost nothing in common with the basic Girl's Love formula.
If I had to ding it on anything, it would be the mediocre art, which is kinda ugly at times, and kind of nice in others. It's never pretty, nor is it photorealistic in any sense. It's sort of like older manga, in that you have oddly-proportioned, bug-eyed people, who in this case manage to stay consistently on model, but who nevertheless look similar enough to be confusing sometimes. The art's not good, whatever it ends up being by the last page, and that's all I can really say.
Overall, it's not exactly an 'enjoyable' manga, but it's a real one. It's got important things to say about being LGBT, about love, about rejection, etc that are more like uncomfortable home truths for a culture that still doesn't provide legal protections for LGBT in many prefectures. You won't find many GL manga with the guts to pull that off. It brutally rebuts the idea that people need to have kids, or get married to the opposite sex to be happy. It merrily dances around the corpse of the idea that gay people are predators who'll bang anyone of the same sex (hello yaoi industry). Like, these are not new concepts, but homophobia is still alive and well in a lot of countries, and this manga doesn't just present gay people not doing those things, it explicitly calls those homophobic ideas out as wrongheaded.
So if you ever wanted to know what your gay buddy felt like when s/he talks about 'crushing on a straight person', this is your manga. If you're a bit tired of fluff and smut, give it a shot. If you can't handle love that's realistically flawed, though, or have never been rejected in your life, you'll likely find it a miserable read, in more ways than one.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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