A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow Volume 1 Review

It is hard to say what kind of genre Makoto Hagino’s oddly titled manga fits into. While certainly a slice-of-life story, the female leads make you wonder if this can also be considered to be yuri. While at the moment the main focus is on female friendship and the “Teen” rating indicates nothing explicit will occur, something deeper might develop.

The story follows Konatsu Amano, who after living in Tokyo for 15 years, finds herself having to move out of the city when her father gets a job abroad. Now she is living with her aunt in a small seaside town. On her first day at Nagahama High School, she learns that her school is hosting an open day for their aquarium club, whose sole member (no pun intended) is Koyuki Honami, whose teacher father acts as the club’s advisor. Konatsu visits the club which is filled with a huge number of tanks containing various aquatic creatures, and she becomes friendly with Koyuki. Konatsu also becomes  friends with a member of her new class, Hirose Kaede of the home economics club.

Konatsu learns that one of the school rules is that she has to join a club. At first she promises to join Hirose’s home economics club, but she finds herself slowly drawn to Koyuki and the aquarium club, which she eventually decides to join. The problem is how can she let down Hirose, given that she has broken her promise to her.

In this manga the main area of interest is the relationship between Konatsu and Koyuki. Currently the pair are friendly, and as the story progresses, Konatsu slowly becomes more self-confident. This is evidenced when Konatsu ends up taking part in another club open day, meaning she has to deal with requests from member of the public. At first she has trouble answering questions, but eventually she is able to help answer a young boy’s query about a salamander that she herself became interested in when she first encountered the club.

The question is: how far and how deep does this relationship go? As stated, nothing explicit is expected to appear given this manga’s age rating, but it is possible that Konatsu and Koyuki’s friendship might blossom into something more romantic. It is hard to tell if this series might be classified as “yuri” at the moment, but it will be interesting to see if it does develop that way. The biggest hint so far as to something Sapphic is one scene where Konatsu and Koyuki are siphoning some of the aquarium tanks using the same hose, leading to what Koyuki suggests is an “indirect kiss”.

Hagino’s artwork is especially fine, particular when it comes to both the people and the animals in their tanks. John Werry’s translation has no issues, although arguably he is not the only translator. One scene sees a class read the book Salamander by Masuji Ibuse, which is translated by John Bester and which Werry quotes from directly.

A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow is certain a good manga. The only thing that really needs clearing up is an explanation of the title. No snow appears in the first volume and I’m not sure if there is a phrase or saying it relates to.


6 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. His debut book, CLAMPdown, about the manga collective CLAMP, is available now. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

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