Three years ago, Hashimoto Shun, a gay novelist in the making, met Chibana Mio, a very quiet high school student, in Okinawa.
Mio had lost both of his two parents and was often seen sitting on a bench until very late, watching the sea, near Shun's house.
They slowly grew closer to one another, but Mio suddenly had to leave the island, to pursue his studies...
Three years later, Mio returns to Okinawa: "I've been thinking a lot these last three years... Even if he's a man too, I love Shun."
Will these two finally be able to take a step forward together?
(Minor Spoilers in this review)
I'm not sure why there hasn't been a review for this series yet, but I decided I would go ahead and be the first to do so. (It's been a while since I've reviewed anything in depth, so bear with me!)
Umibe no Etranger (or Seaside Stranger) is not one of those yaoi stories where they fall in love immediately and then it's just sex, something happens, then more sex. Umibe no Etranger maturely covers issues such as loss, loneliness, and isolation while still managing to be pretty light-hearted and beautiful (seriously, the art is gorgeous).
While the story isn't entirely original, it isn't bad. I gave it a 7 because it wasn't outstanding or mindblowing, but it was good enough to pique my interest and keep me engaged. It never got boring and that's what I appreciate about it. The sensual scenes are brief and I wasn't bothered by them at all like I am in some yaoi (because some yaoi tend to be borderline rape). They happen at the right times and the relationship develops at a realistic pace, even though there are only 4 chapters.
Now I think this is one of the parts of this story that stands out the most. The story is mostly supported by our two main characters: lonely, pretty boy, Mio, and disinherited gay novelist, Shun. I'm gonna say this now, but Shun struggles with his homosexuality, something that's hard to find in many yaoi or shounen ai manga. Mio, on the other hand, is not gay and says a few times that he's into girls. But he ends up falling for Shun anyway because of who he is. I was really touched by their relationship, which didn't begin immediately. They're both a bit shy and Shun even seems a bit reluctant to be with Mio at first. But otherwise, these two characters and their interactions are touching, heartfelt, real, and endearing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the art in this. It may be awkward at some points, but that's what brings character to this story. So that's why I gave a 10. Art isn't always what we want it to be, but if it works, that's what matters. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the art in this story. The character designs are clean and adorable and you can definitely tell who everyone is in this story. The backgrounds are on point and really bring a warm, calm feeling to the story. In fact, the art for the sequel, Harukaze no Etranger, is almost better. (Have you seen the cover art? So good.)
I just loved the characters so much that I read this all in one sitting. It was very enjoyable, short, yet left a good impression.
I recommend this to anyone looking for a realistic, maybe a little cliche but nevertheless adorable, romance. If you're not into yaoi, I still recommend it because it's that good. Don't be turned off by that. I also recommend the sequel, Harukaze no Etranger, because it goes into great detail when dealing with unconventional topics.
I hope this review was helpful. If you have problems with my review, I appreciate any constructive criticisms as I haven't written a lot of reviews.