Hasegawa Yuiji accidentally finds out that his classmate, Yoshinaga Yamato, is gay. Eventually, he realizes Yamato's gaze is directed towards an unattainable love. From a study group together Yuiji finds out that Yamato is a "pretty nice guy," and despite his awkwardness, starts wishing for his happiness...
Koimonogatari focuses on the difficulties of adolescent homosexuality. Yoshinaga Yomato is an ordinary boy, he’s naturally athletic, considerate, and sometimes quiet. While talking to one of his female friends, Yoshinaga mentions that girls simply don’t make his heart beat faster, and classmate Hasegawa Yuiji happens to accidentally hear. At first, Hasegawa finds himself uncomfortable with the news. However, as he begins to observe Yoshinaga, he finds himself unable to hate the boy who has such pure intentions.
As a manga with emphasis on reality over fiction, Koimonogatari relies on the two major perspectives consisting of: the protagonist (Yoshinaga) and the observer (Hasegawa). Readers will most
likely relate to Hasegawa, who at first struggles to understand and accept Yoshinaga, but then begins to empathize with him, and even wish for his happiness. Hasegawa is open-minded, but that doesn’t mean his isn’t initially uncomfortable with the idea of Yoshinaga having a crush on his male best friend.
The success of the manga comes from the narration and plot, there’s attention towards real-life problems rather than unnecessary drama. Yoshinaga struggles with coming out to his friends, knowing that it is a risky thing to do, but if he doesn’t, he feels he is hiding a terrible secret. It’s exceptionally difficult to pretend you are happy when you are not, and as people begin to observe Yoshinaga they conclude something is “fake” or off about him. He tries to be stoic, and generally succeeds, but some of this classmates manage to see through this façade.
The art is beautiful and appealing, I'm sure most people will be pleased with the character designs and expressions. Expressions are not over-exaggerated, they're perfectly fitting and appropriate.
I recommend the manga to anyone who is a fan of reading LGBT works. There is some romance, but the focus is on the struggle of being gay, when being gay comes with negative connotations. Let’s call it a Slice of Life with an actual intensive, involving plot?
From a narrative perspective: the story is simple and sincere, the characters are relatable and play well off each other, it's a slow paced character-study so don't go in expecting a ton of action (though there is some.) Also the art is pretty and really suits the characters/tone.
This is one of the few shounen ai stories I've read that actually explored what it was like to just be gay. There's a lot about relationships between guys, and some of them do seriously tackle the reality of being gay, but rarely have I ever identified with a character and their world as in this.
and straight forward, but it isn't harsh or pessimistic. Seeing the characters grow and take care of one another is honestly heart warming, and for someone who's experienced anything similar, it feels almost comforting.
I have to say this manga is like none I have read so far. And it's really, really good in my opinion.
The setting might seem typical shounen ai at a first glance - high school boys dealing with their feelings for each other - but it is not. There are two main characters with alternating point of views: one struggling to understand his sexual orientation and to find a way to be genuine both towards his friends and towards himself, the other that discovers his classmate's secret and slowly observes and comes to understand and appreciate him.
There are no clichés here, it's truly an original
slice of life manga, focused on self-discovery and growth. I must confess I have no idea in which direction things will go, if it will finally be focused on an adolescent's rite of passage towards adulthood and emotional and sexual self-awareness, if it will be about friendship or it it will shift more towards romance. With the six chapters I have read so far all these possibilities are still wide open and that's all the more exciting.
The characters are all interesting and have depth. There is a lot of dialogue and I believe the author tries her best to treat the subject seriously and to project the character's inner feelings onto the reader, mainly through conversations. The art work is good, a hell of an improvement from some of the author's earlier mangas, so kudos to her in that department.
I myself gave it a 9 because I am extremely picky, but on my global scale of manga a 9 is truly what it's supposed to be: great. I might even go higher depending on how it develops, given that it's still publishing.
I wholeheartedly recommend people who think they might find it interesting to give it a shot. There is another good review for this already, but I felt like leaving my own input just to give people another point of view on it and thus maybe encourage more readers to pick it up, it truly is worth it, it really was a pleasant discovery for me.