Haru's Curse is a manga that goes far past any forbidden romance or typical love triangle, and it oftentimes deal with familial relationships more than the romantic. This manga demonstrates how grief can affect people far after their loved ones are gone, sometimes even making it resemble a curse.
Natsumi, our main character, is dating Togo. The only problem is that Togo was Natsumi's little sister's fiancé up until her untimely death. Natsumi agrees to go out with Togo in exchange that they visit the places he and her little sister visited, as a sort of way for her to pan through her grief. Natsumi, however,
doesn't realize Togo may be dating her for more than family obligations or as a way to deal with his own grief. Both Natsumi and Togo are forced to wade their way through the obstacles of a relationship, made so much more difficult with the burden of a lost loved one. It is also up to them to decide what they truly want, and whether this guilt is worth it.
If I had to sum up the storyline in one sentence while also completely butchering it, I'd say, "A love-triangle that surpasses death." Again, this is a horrible butchering of what is actually a heartfelt love story. Life doesn't always work out like in countless shoujo manga, and Haru's Curse really exemplifies this. People don't always casually bump into each other, but are rather thrown at each other in the most unexpected ways possible. Natsumi knows for a fact that her sister, Haru, loved Togo, so she's afraid to act on her own feelings. She's constantly thinking about what her sister would have wanted, and her day-to-day decisions are impacted by this. Togo, on the other hand, was born into a rich bloodline, so he's never been able to make a single decision for himself in his life. Even Haru was not his decision, as sad as that is, so it leaves the reader wondering what exactly it is that Togo really wants.
Haru's Curse is a mixture of romantic love and the love between sisters. It even demonstrates the maternal love between a daughter and mother, despite there not being any actual blood relations. I'd have to say Natsumi's heartfelt conversation with her step-mother really put this manga at a nine for me. The balance between themes in this manga was perfect, and I feel like the reactions were genuine.
The mangaka's art is pretty to look at, but I can definitely see how it has improved in her latest work, Raise wa Tanin ga li. The characters are handsome, but they definitely have more detail in her latest work. One of my favorite images was when Natsumi and Togo fell down, just because their faces were priceless.
I thoroughly enjoyed Haru's Curse, and read it in the span of two hours or so. It wasn't anything groundbreaking, but it was definitely the breath of fresh air I needed. Despite the gloomy topics it covers, the manga is genuinely uplifting, which sounds like it would be difficult to accomplish. It's about learning to live for yourself, because it may be the only life you have, and it might be a short one.
Overall, I'd recommend Haru's Curse to someone in the mood for a short, bittersweet love story. It's only two volumes, and the one I picked up is one, collected volume. I didn't even know it was published in English until I visited the store, but I was delightfully surprised. If it sounds interesting, please go pick up a copy!