Review – Hatsukoi ni Oboreta
First things first: Happy 2012, everyone! Finally, the first review of the year, of a series that I believe to be one of the most underrated works in shoujo manga. Seriously.
Summary (by me):
Koto is a girl who has always struggled with violent impulses. The only person she doesn’t direct these feelings to is her childhood friend Kyouhei, her only friend, and the only person she can trust. One day, he gets a girlfriend, and Koto starts to realize different feelings towards Kyouhei she didn’t know she had…
I suck at summaries. I know. I’m sorry.
Sakurada Hina is probably one of my favourite shoujo mangaka whose name escapes me about 99% of the time. Despite this, her work is very memorable, even after having reading lots of her stuff more than two years ago.
Hatsukoi ni Oboreta is in my mind one of the most underrated shoujo works out there. This is probably due in part to its length (only three chapters) and its art, which doesn’t have that mainstream sort of look that most shoujo series out there usually have. Despite this, this is the one series I go back to when I crave familiarity in my reading; and I must confess – I cry almost every time I read this. NOT EVEN JOKING.
I think one of the things I admire most about Hatsukoi ni Oboreta is something I rarely notice while reading manga – its pacing. Hatsukoi ni Oboreta is so seamless, the plot and dialogue just flow without any stops or any awkwardness. None of the panels are wasted; every single piece of character art has a purpose in conveying emotion. It’s wonderful. After reading it numerous times over the past three years, I’m finally able to look at the work as a whole from a distance, and just say “wow”.
All of the characters are surprisingly likeable. I have no complaints with any of the major characters at all. One tiny note though – I thought that Kyouhei’s girlfriend Kana was kind of flat. However, she’s not a very important character, so it doesn’t impact the series negatively. I also wish that Koto’s mother’s motivations were given some more detail. Apart from these minor complaints, all of the characters are great.
Most of all, I love how Koto and Kyouhei are true to life. They aren’t larger than life, having some sort of overblown character trait that makes either of them seem like an archetype. Both of them are also flawed in such a way that makes them very believable and distinct from most other shoujo manga characters. My hat goes off to Sakurada-sensei for that.
The art is very distinct. The art has its moments where it looks as though it’s rushed, but I really think that it’s a part of Sakurada-sensei’s style. One thing I noticed is that the way Kyouhei looks can vary – sometimes he looks great, other times he looks…a little bit different. I do think one of Sakurada-sensei’s strengths is conveying character emotion. When I look at Koto crying, I BELIEVE she’s crying and…it makes me cry too. Quite often, really.
Overall, I do think this series is definitely a must-read for any shoujo fan. Even if Hatsukoi ni Oboreta lacks the name recognition a lot of other series have, it’s definitely worth a look!
+ : Believable characters, great pacing.
– : Some characters could have been expanded on a little more.