January 2, 2012
Yuana Kazumi – Tokyopop – 2009 – 1 volume
this is an omnibus containing vols. 1-3
This is cute, with nice art that really matches the mood of the feel-good story, but… it’s a little unremarkable. It took me over a year to read it, a few months to get through it, and several more to write it up here. I just couldn’t be bothered with it, unfortunately, and that’s even considering the fact I was super-excited the whole thing was collected into one volume.
The premise is that a boy that has trouble opening up to people and a girl that break out in hives meet, then work together in a massage parlor (the therapeutic kind, not the other kind). At first, Hana is working off massive debt at the massage parlor, but eventually she becomes part of the team when they realize how beautifully she plays violin. There are two gentlemen at the massage parlor, including the proprietor Shinnosuke and the masseuse Haru, who has amnesia and is trying to get his memories back. Haru, in particular, torments Hana all the time, purposely grabbing her so that she breaks out in hives.
The story goes that Haru is a great masseuse since he can “feel” the pain of others and take it away via massage. A lot of the stories are about customers and side characters that come in and get a massage in addition to having their “heart healed” by Haru. But, of course, he’s kind of a jerk to most people outside work, and Hana slowly begins to realize that there’s more to him than that. There’s a reluctant love story, that kind of develops slowly and gains speed through the third volume. There’s also lots of family stuff for both Haru and Hana. Hana’s grandmother sends her to the city to toughen her up and get rid of her boy phobia, and this becomes a point of contention when her grandmother comes to pick her up somewhere in the second volume. The third volume is mostly about Haru’s background and his family, and is just about as dramatic as you can imagine in a low-impact shoujo manga. Family drama, kidnapping, what the lost memories were about… et cetera.
The memories subplot is supplemented nicely with a habit that Hana has of snapping photographs, and those serve as memories for both of the main characters.
It’s a nice story, and a good read and inexpensive for the amount of stuff you’re getting in this volume. Shoujo fans will like it, but shoujo junkies like me… well, there’s not much you haven’t seen here. It’s a mostly happy, feel-good story, with Haru and Hana addressing a lot of the emotional problems of their clientele, while teasing each other and growing closer. The characters are developed just enough, and the plot is a sweet enough story to make it a good read. But I had to flip through and re-read several chapters just now to remember anything at all about it.