Fujiyama-san is 181 cm (approx. 5' 11'') and she is the ace player for her school's volleyball team. Kanba-kun is 160 cm (approx. 5' 3") and has known Fujiyama since their preschool years. With his prankster friends, Kanba peaks into the girl's locker room right when Fujiyama is undressing. From then on, he could not get the image of Fujiyama out of his mind, so he decides to ask her out. She says yes. Enjoy their naive and secretive relationship as Kanba ogles his tall girlfriend in many different situations.
Amazing. Unbelievably, unexpectedly – amazing. And the most surprising thing is that I can say it without any concessions to the romance genre. Fujiyama-san wa Shishunki is a manga you want to dissolve in, to live in, so consistently good its writing and its art are.
Lemme start with the characters, after all, the premise of a romance between a short guy and a tall girl is what would make the synopsis of this manga anywhere. But it’s not Love Com, and the difference in height quickly becomes secondary for their budding feeling. Boy, do the characters feel human, do they feel alive. A big chunk
of characterization is indirect, comes through art and little details, and it works wonders, you recognize human types and millions of little qualities that they imply. It is especially true for the titular Fujiyama-san, who we study and admire. The male main character, whose pov we follow, is more of self-insert (that made me think that the author is male at first, but nope, it’s a woman), yet very down to earth and a bit of an underdog, which makes donning his skin inviting and rooting for him easy. The rest of characters fall to the background, but not having a secondary friend romance or triangles in this case is a bless. The “farthest” cast, people defined by few characteristic features, are also done perfectly, very readable. The supporting, closer characters are, perhaps the weakest in terms of personality, but can hold their own in most cases.
Fujiyama-san wa Shishunki excels in its depiction of Japanese life and life in general. The art for the world is stellar, the detalization is beyond anything I could expect when I picked up this manga – some pages are hard to turn, so lush and vibrant they are. You may doubt me because of the covers, but they’re painfully non-representative, the one and only thing that isn't drawn amazingly. The amount of graphical content and skill here is close to the current Asano, on the level of the best modern movie-like seinen. Since we've touched the topic of art - art-wise this manga has it all: striking two-pages spreads, powerful facial expressions, good anatomy, beautiful landscapes, clever mood-setter panels, steady panelwork.
The author creates beautiful genre scenes, brimming with life in its little details. The winter scenes in the house of Fujiyama’s grandmother stand out for me – it felt as if you can smell and touch the things in this warm older lady’s home, with its carefully kept old things in covers, neat mementos on shelves, stale candy and, of course, festive cooking. A year goes by, scenes change in small beautiful vignettes, mundane life distilled and turned by the author’s love and effort in eternal moments – a shrine in autumn covered in gingko leaves, a neingbourhood city’s summertime empty library, a schooltrip to Kyoto, city streets gone empty because of a typhoon. Usually it’s about Fujiyama, her family, while she herself is a quietly shining presence, and the main character, who we follow, enters her life and learns about her through this life, carried in by his love and sudden admiration and desire.
An important side of Fujiyama-san wa Shishunki is that the whole story is permeated with beautiful eroticism. It’s perfect – healthy and tasteful. The two teens start to enjoy their bodies, learn about attraction, try touch. They don’t even kiss, be warned, but the existing erotic subtext is substantial and enjoyable nevertheless. You desperately want them to have sex, but for once not only to ogle, but because you believe that this couple will manage too turn it into a moment of absolute happiness.
What is stronger, slice of life or romance? Perhaps slice of life, though the two merge and suppost each other. The characters seem to be embraced by the immence world, they grow out of its soil and are carried by its currents. Yet their love colors and makes the world too in return.
Of course, some parts are simplified. Fujiyama is teased, but both characters are perfectly adjusted in school, even the somewhat lame male main character. The school life is glorified in a way. The interactions are specifically cut off from the modern tech. But fiction always morphs reality in order to achieve its goals, and here it obviously succeeds, creating a timeless, healing, human love story.
The plot follows the slice of life staples, with status quo changing rarely, if at all, until near the very end. Some chapters may be a tiny bit strained, there’re some fluctuations in the mood (from a somewhat messy teen romance to a happy family-like romance), but overall the high quality of writing is maintained.
Normally I have a policy of limiting time for long romance manga, dropping it after a while – it’s just too much of the same wasting my time. But with Fujiyama-san wa Shishunki I am sure I will come back even now that it's finished. It offers the full package – great art, lovable characters, heartwarming story. But then it gives you even more – a spirit of humanity and care, fragrant depictions of life, intelligent writing. I can’t recommend higher, please, just go and read it.
This piece is really something. I can really recommend it to people who love romance and even more so if you love the process of falling in love. The main protagonists have a really innocent relationship with the occasional goofy moments that could be considered ecchi. The characters are extremely likeable especially Fujiyama Makio with her everything is cool personality. The story kept me on the edge most of the time because the atmosphere is always like "this is the time they make finally the next step" and then it descends into the same pattern, but it is still really good. I am looking forward
for more stories from this mangas author.