*There are no spoilers in this review. Any plot I describe will be laid out in the first chapter. This can also be used to convince you to read the manga.*
Often, when people think of a somber romance stories in anime or manga, they would turn to the critically acclaimed Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan and the popular but divisive Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. These stories may not have touched the hearts of you specifically, but they wrenched the emotions of many, with great success. To my esteemed pleasure, I must say that Magi no Okurimono is of the same quality, and practically perfect.
The 24 year old Daichi is the protagonist of Magi no Okurimono, and the manga opens with him walking towards an observatory. Daichi had always been with his childhood friend Akari, who loved astronomy and space. This adoration for the cosmos led her to pursue astronomy at an early age, leading to some fame as the “Super Cute Astronomy Girl.” Always in love with Akari, Daichi, in high school confesses his feelings to her, and she accepts.
Yet, 2 years later, she passes away.
Devastated, Daichi struggles to move on with his life. Fast forward to age 24, and Daichi is struggling to remember Akari, despite the pain he felt and the feelings he still has. As a result, he resolves himself to go to the observatory that he and Akari had spent time at in order to reclaim his lost memories and romance.
As it turns out, Daichi’s loss of memory is not due to his forgetfulness. Despite being dead, Akari is as much of a protagonist as Daichi; we see her in heaven, still pained by Daichi’s love of her, and we also see her constant attempts in order to get him to move on with his life and forget about her.
Magi no Okurimono makes heavy use of flashbacks, to excellent effect. These flashbacks are not shown in a chronological sequence, but thanks to expertly placed, and rarely intrusive, narration, we are never confused as to the order of events in the lives of Daichi and Akari. In the six chapters, we see Daichi and Akari grow up, experience teenage angst, some growing pains, and eventually fall in love. We also see the sheer grief on their faces in extremely powerful ways. Feelings of grief are interspersed with memories of happier times. Dialogue all but disappears for pages, only letting the setpiece do the talking. Magi no Okurimono is extremely adept at drawing out emotional responses, rarely resorting to long, tearful speeches or distressing dialogues. In fact, much of the story takes place in the form of monologues and narration, with Akari and Daichi looking back on what was. Scenes of romance, grief, calm, and even brief humor pervade this manga, and the progression feels natural in every sense of the word. Moreover, this non-chronological order allows us to experience love and loss simultaneously, through the glasses of nostalgia rather than those of melodrama.
It’s safe to say that the manga would not work nearly as well as it does without absolutely amazing artwork, and Komichi Yoshizuki hits it home. His character design is conventional, yes, but he draws them with such care and clean precision that you wouldn’t have it any other way. His attention to detail is also superb, garnishing Akari’s room in heaven with tons of astronomy memorabilia and delivering exceptional backgrounds, time after time. As a result, he can contrast these intricate and lavish pages with almost blank panels and environments by comparison, evoking emotion simply through a betrayal of expectation. Yoshizuki is capable of telling a moving story through artwork alone.
That isn’t to say that the characters are bad in the manga. On the contrary, it’s a wonder how well Yoshizuki can develop both Akari and Daichi in merely 6 chapters. The mangaka characterizes the characters using every trick available to him, ranging from narration, to their interactions with each other, to their interactions with other minor characters to the artwork. Yoshizuki manages not only to develop these characters exceedingly well, but to make them feel like people. There’s no otaku appeal, no tsunderes, virtually no tropes to even look at besides the childhood friend, and it’s marvelous.
At the center of all of this is astronomy. It’s not just a gimmick, nor is it a huge part of the plot, but the cosmos glue the whole story together and elevate it further. The manga doesn’t contain big, sweeping explanations of the planets and the stars. The manga doesn’t relegate it to the background. The manga doesn’t make long winded, esoteric space analogies. The manga doesn’t keep it separate altogether. The beauty is how astronomy plays a substantive, but not oppressive, role in developing both Akari and Daichi. It provides a backdrop to their relationship, and man oh man, does it provide some really nice starry night skies for Yoshizuki to draw for you.
While it may be a recent manga, it’s criminally unnoticed and underappreciated, so at a length of 6 chapters, I implore you to indulge in its story. You will not be disappointed, and even if you don’t lavish as high praise as I do, your time will not be wasted (besides, 6 chapters!). Despite its short length, even shorter than Watashitachi no Shiwase na Jikan and Half & Half, Magi no Okurimono manages to weave a story of impressive depth and emotion. This story of love and loss is absolutely amazing, and you shouldn’t miss it.
Story - 10
Art - 10
Character - 10
Enjoyment - 10
Overall - 10read more