New Season of Young Leaves

December 19, 2014

Venio Tachibana / Akeno Kitahata – DMP/June – 2014 – 1+ volume

I was super-excited about this one, since I loved Tachibana’s Seven Days so much.  New Season of Young Leaves isn’t as good, but has some of the nice, subtle qualities that made Seven Days so good.

The two main characters are the popular, outgoing Mariya and quiet, introverted Nachi.  Nachi has earned himself the nickname “Mr. Mannequin” for being so emotionless and unapproachable.  The story opens with one of Mariya’s friends challenging the friendship between Mariya and Nachi, since it seems Mariya can’t hang out unless he asks Nachi’s permission.

Nachi winds up at a Mah Jong game with Mairya’s friends to make the number of players even, and they soon find out that no matter what Nachi does, he will be better than you at it.  This leads to Nachi hanging out with Mairya’s friends a lot and Mariya getting jealous.

Nachi later tells the story about how the two of them met in Middle School to a friendly classmate.  Nachi, who sees Mariya stand up for a friend and likes him for it, later asks him how they can be friends, as Nachi has none and doesn’t know how such things work (Nachi is painfully socially awkward.  He has no pride or shame, and always asks or says what’s on his mind).  This makes Mariya uncomfortable at first, but he soon realizes he loves being close, exclusive friends with Nachi.  Later, a girl begins to try for Nachi’s affection, and there’s a little drama.

The nice thing about New Season of Young Leaves, and Seven Days, is that they’re both life-shattering drama-free.  They’re mostly just regular people dealing with regular situations.  The relationships move nice and slow, and they have sort of an embarrassed, hand-holding quality I like.  It’s a rather unique, subtle flavor.

Having said that, I had a hard time getting into New Season of Young Leaves.  I do like to see stories where the characters are in a regular setting, interacting with other students like they aren’t the only two people either of them know.  But there are a few too many characters that are featured a little prominently for having no role in the story.  I had a hard time telling Mariya and another character apart for the first chapter or so.  The story is also… oddly fragmented.  It’s about how Nachi is “Mr. Mannequin” and doesn’t fit in.  It’s about their weird friendship/relationship that isn’t explained for a long time.  It’s about Mariya getting jealous.  Then it’s about them in middle school, then about the girl that came between them?

Apparently the story continues in another volume, which would explain why there are several characters whose specialty seems to be giving significant looks.  But if there’s another volume, I’m not sure why the middle school flashback (which takes up half the book) wasn’t expanded into its own volume?  That was my favorite part of the book, and I would have adored it if that was the first volume.

Good, but a little scattered.  The second volume isn’t scheduled yet, but hopefully we’ll see it inside a year.