‘Being in “like” can be pretty intense.’
Good-natured, easygoing Dai Noshiro has settled well onto his new high school, He’s even made friends – after a difficult and prickly start – with loner Sanada and Sanada’s childhood classmate Ayumi. But he’s had to ask himself what friendship really means to him, especially when Sanada confides in him that the rumours circulating in school are true and he is gay. Noshiro, being the kind of guy that he is, doesn’t really mind; he just likes Sanada as a friend. Although he then begins to ask himself exactly what ‘like’ means…
Just when Noshiro thinks he’s sorted out how he feels about Sanada, a new, younger boy, Makoto (in the year below) makes his appearance. He idolizes Noshiro. Makoto is brash, loud, enthusiastic, small, cute (although he hates to be called cute) and pretty oblivious to other people’s feelings. His insistence on tagging along unbalances the friendship between Noshiro, Sanada and Ayumi – and leads to a misunderstanding that will cause no end of trouble for Noshiro. In his desire to protect Sanada’s secret, Noshiro finds himself losing the very friendship he has come to value. What’s to be done about Makoto?
The first volume of That Blue Sky Feeling dealt in a very direct way with a teenager’s questions about feelings, friendship and sexuality. (If we can pass swiftly over the questions arising from the relationship between Sanada and the ex-boyfriend who, at twenty-six, is ten years his senior.) This second volume continues to explore the issues that can arise from keeping confidences, dealing with other people’s feelings that you might not be able to return and letting someone down gently without hurting their feelings. Noshiro is a protagonist who seems very comfortable in his own skin, even if he’s not very quick on the uptake when reading other people’s feelings. So it still makes an ideal volume to have in the secondary school library (it’s rated Teen 13+) to promote and encourage discussion about friendships and respecting other people’s boundaries. It’s very simply written. Too simple, perhaps, as the conversations between these sixteen-year-olds often seem more appropriate to much younger students (apart from Makoto, of course) and brought to life with Coma Hashii’s simple character drawings. If anything, this second volume is much less sophisticated than the first, almost as if an editor had suggested to Okura that it might work well targeting a younger audience?
A page at the back shows some of the differences between Okura’s own web comic version (the original edition) and this, the ‘Remake’.
This is quiet, realistic slice-of-life fiction about growing up with an aptly straightforward translation from Jocelyne Allen that suits the author’s style really well.