Sometimes when you are done reading or watching something you feel like you will never find anything like it ever again and that nothing will ever top the experience that you’ve just had. That is kind of how I felt after finishing the short story Heart Gifts by Hattori Masahiko yesterday. It was only three chapters long, but it really impacted me and it did not pull any punches when it came to being dramatic.
The story follows two girls named Shiro and Kuro. Shiro had a weak heart since birth and one day she is on the verge of death. That is when Kuro offers to have them transplant her heart into Shiro, saving her life, but leaving Kuro with a mechanical heart that needs charging to keep her alive. This leads to a very strong friendship between the two or maybe it’s something even deeper than that.
I’ve said before that I like short stories because they take a simple premise and runs with it until the end. The focus is on the relationship between Shiro and Kuro and not much else, which is good since there are only three chapters to work with.
The art here is also very beautiful and super detailed. Sometimes while reading I would stop and look at a single panel for a couple of minutes because of how much there was to look at in the background. The characters themselves are of course just as detailed and very expressive. Out of all the manga that I’ve written about so far, Heart Gifts has set the bar very high when it comes to characters and backgrounds!
If I have to name any problems with this manga and there is not many mind you, it would be that sometimes (we’re talking two or three panels over three chapters here) the mangaka tends to sacrifice the characters being on model in favor of being super detailed or pulling off a dramatic angle. But this is honestly such a minor thing that it barely matters in the long run.
So would I recommend Heart Gifts? Yes, because it would almost be a crime not to! Since it is only three chapters long, I really think that you should put aside some time, relax and read this very good yuri manga. It is seriously one of the best that I have had the pleasure to read in a long time and I really hope that Hattori Masahiko does more work!
Love Letters is a manga by Shii Hirone, which is published in the Yuri Shoujo collection along with many other stories about girls love. It’s a short story about Nakahara-San who one day finds a beautiful drawing of flowers on her desk and decides to reply by leaving a drawing and a message herself. It doesn’t take long for a budding relationship to start developing between her and the person who left the original message, even if she doesn’t know who it is.
I really love these short stories, because they are usually low on unnecessary drama and forced conflict, which longer series tend to get into to keep the reader interested. Here it’s just a simple premise with only three characters that the story revolves around, Nakahara-San, her desk neighbor Kokonoe and the person who is leaving these messages on her desk. It’s short, sweet, quick to get to the point and that is what I really like!
The art has this really beautiful shoujo style to it and is mostly drawn in line art with a few areas of shadow where needed for emphasis, which works really well for such a short manga. Even if the art is simple, the characters are still very expressive which is a plus for sure.
Sadly enough, the Yuri Shoujo volumes are not available in English. I read a fan translated version, but I still want to get my hands on the physical volumes in Japanese. I just like collecting yuri manga even if my Japanese is super rudimentary and it’s never wrong to support those who are creating what you love to read.
Recently I’ve been really into reading yuri manga with adult characters. Not that there is anything wrong with the high school or any other setting. It’s just nice to some times read something with characters who are further along in life and a relationship. That is where Collectors by Nishi Uko hits the sweet spot for me. The manga follows Nitou Shinobu and Tanazaki Takako, two women who are both avid collectors and who are already in a long standing relationship.
What it comes down to is a romantic slice of life story covering the day to day life of these two women and their friends. It’s actually really sweet and has this more realistic style, which is kind of refreshing from the usual cute anime style (Not that there is anything wrong with that). The manga is written a yonkoma format, with each part telling a short story. But all of the parts in each chapter are somewhat tied to each other.
I would also like to quickly touch on the art. It has these really light pen strokes, making it feel really nice and easy on the eyes. The art is as I mentioned above more realistic, but still not super detailed, making it really easy to remember and recognize characters just from their silhouette.
Speaking of really memorable characters, I’ve got to say that I really like Shinobu. Mostly because she kind of reminds me of myself in some way. She’s outspoken and honest almost to a fault and has a tendency to get snowed in on the things she enjoys, being able to spend hours doing just that one thing and still having fun. Which are quirks that I can really relate to.
At the end of the day I would really recommend reading Collectors if you feel like reading something with two character who are already in a relationship. Because it is way to common in my opinion for manga and anime to lead up to the big kiss or the confession and then end. I think that life after getting together is more interesting than the road leading up to it. But that is just my opinion, so please tell me if you agree or have another opinion in the comments.