Mitsuru Adachi – Viz – 2000 – 2 volumes
I’ve read a bunch of these, mostly the entire second volume, in Animerica. This volume came into my store, and I couldn’t resist picking it up. I love Mitsuru Adachi, especially after Cross Game. This volume looks like it’s been hit by a truck, but I can still read it, so it’s all good. Actually, I was under the impression that one or both volumes of this series were expensive secondhand, but both are hovering around $5 used on Amazon right now. Get them while you can!
My favorite story? The titular Short Program. A couple is on a date, and through the course of the story, we realize that the guy is actually a creepy voyeur. It’s obvious immediately that he probably is, but the fun is in seeing whether or not the girl chooses to doubt or get out of there. He only gets creepier and creepier as the story goes on, too. It’s pretty funny.
Most of the rest are just charming short stories… love stories, in most cases. Take Off is about a very tall guy that has a crush on his neighbor, who is a Japanese high jumping champion. She keeps coincidentally jumping his height to break her records. What’s Going On is about a ski trip that a guy takes in order to catch a glimpse of his pen pal, who he is tricked into believing is a loud, large girl. Of course she is not, because this is a manga, but it’s still the right mix of funny and sweet, and I almost forgave it the fact that they didn’t get along and fall in love anyway. At the Intersection is about a guy who is so shy he can only meet the girl he likes in passing at an intersection at the same time each day, and the end of the story reveals that she may have the same idea and SERIOUSLY NOBODY IS THAT SHY. The Current State of Affairs is about a romantic non-couple that got separated by moves, schools, and misunderstandings that meet back up for a reunion, only to have their love stopped by some good-looking celebrity rugby player or something. Plus 1 is the story of a girl who has a crush on a bad-tempered nice boy, but is crushed on by the school good-looking jerk, and there is a radio motif. And Purple is apparently a shoujo story about two girls that have crushes on different guys, and where that takes them.
Again, it’s difficult for me to articulate the charm in Mitsuru Adachi’s work. It’s low-key, and I can see how many people might find them to be mundane or repetitive. But again, I find the mix of humor, romance, and slice-of-life to be quite charming, and he has a knack for writing very individual and believable characters. They don’t have to be huge personalities, but even in these short stories, all the characters have a personality quirk that distinguishes them and sets them apart enough to enjoy the story. It’s fun, and I really do wish that more of his work would be translated.
I loved this, back when I was in high school and through today, almost twelve years later (*sobsob*). If you see it in your local used bookstore, pick it up and give it a try. Or skim it off the internet while it’s cheap. Adachi is worth it, and I would love love LOVE to see more of his work in English. Sadly, I don’t think Cross Game did too well, so I won’t hold my breath.