Taking a quick break from otome game reviews to review something I recently finished reading. (I’m done playing with Hook’s Best End, so rest assure I’m making progress there lol.)
Ringo ni Hachimitsu (リンゴに蜂蜜) is Hideyoshiko’s other work published in 2011, by Marble Comics, Tokyo Mangasha. Due to the positive online reviews I decided to give this a go and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not as light-hearted as Negative-kun to Positive-kun, but not as serious as Ikemen-kun to Saenai-kun either. I suppose it’s somewhere in the middle in that aspect.
This consists of two main stories: the title story which spans over two chapters, as well as Sekai no Owari no Natsu Moyou (世界の終わりのなつもよう) which is made up of three chapters. The title story is more light-hearted and revolves around the sweet couple on the cover page. The second one has a more serious tone and pulls in the rumour of the world ending in 2012.
The first chapter, titled Nagisa no Aoi Parasoru, shows the couple (Natsuki and Komano) at the beach with the rest of their friends. It’s probably the simplest story as it mainly has the couple stealing away to have their own private moments, mostly due to Komano’s will.
The main tension is that Natsuki is unwilling to let public about their relationship, whereas Komano would love to announce it to everyone if he could. Adding to that, Natsuki gets the idea that one of the girls in the group seems to be interested in Komano.
Yes indeed, it all seems rather typical. The special spice that Hideyoshiko adds, is the likening of Natsuki’s young memory of a homosexual couple he once saw at the beach to themselves. The couple in his memory quietly displayed their affection for each other and didn’t really mind the public eye, much against how Natsuki is trying to deal with the issue. Besides that, Komano’s open and frank attitude is a real welcome. (I can never stress enough how much I enjoy honest characters.)
At the breaking point, the couple come to terms with the root of the tension and decide to let everyone know about their relationship. The best thing is that before they could do so, someone else in the group had asked the girl out and a newer couple is formed lol. Even more awesome, you actually can see hints of that guyxgirl couple throughout the chapter. I like how Hideyoshiko smacks the usual stereotype of female characters in BL manga right back at us.
The second chapter, Ringo ni Hachimitsu, is actually a prequel to the first one. It’s an interesting choice and not a bad one too as we get to see how the couple got together, as well as a glimpse into Natsuki’s complex, while having that previous understanding of the couple already.
Natsuki was actually seeing an older man he had met online, but his partner then drops the news that he’s getting married, yet he still wants to cling onto Natsuki. From here, Natsuki’s insecurities are told to us in a very subtle manner: him making a trip to the supermarket and then the parallels of him and his empty basket vs. a mother with her child and a full basket. We are also shown that he was made fun of since young, and he had never had a real, successful love relationship before. All of this add up to the complex he has.
On the flipside, Komano first saw Natsuki in the university canteen, facing his curry with a face that is about to cry. He then casually asks him to join his curry club only to find out that he’s a guy, and Natsuki rejects him flatly. That doesn’t faze Komano’s interest in Natsuki though as he regularly calls out to him, including an occasion when he points out Natsuki to his other friends. Clearly, Komano has no ill intentions but the situation reminds Natsuki of people pointing and whispering behind his back – something he’s all too familiar with. Komano even remarks on how Natsuki is pretty like a girl. Obviously he takes offence but Komano says that he likes him like that.
The changing point arrives when Natsuki’s previous partner comes to find him at school, since Natsuki’s been avoiding him, and Komano chances upon this. Natsuki’s previous partner immediately brushes his hand away in Komano’s presence, and Komano utters the most awesome line ever: Homo? Really? Uhaha awesome. Speaking of homosexuals, is it true that they do it through the butt?
Despite the awkward situation, when Komano said those, Natsuki couldn’t help but burst into laughter and confirm his question. He also finally clearly rejects the partner, something he hadn’t done earlier because of his insecurities and while he didn’t like being the third party, he knows that he can’t expect a perfect relationship and still wants to be loved. But Natsuki finally realises that he no longer has feelings and lets go. He also cuts his hair soon afterwards.
Natsuki opens up to Komano and agrees to his regular invitation to join the curry club. But soon, he realises that it was just an excuse for Komano to get Natsuki to his house, who confesses his feelings and you can probably guess the rest.
Next is Sekai no Owari no Natsu Moyou. Miyawaki receives an unexpected visitor, Takagi, who confesses to him that he had been in love with him since high school. Upon knowing the rumour that the world may end in 2012, he decided to look him up at his address in the high school graduation book to tell him this, so that he doesn’t have any last regrets.
Naturally, Miyawaki is confused and shocked at this. He quickly rejects Takagi since he can’t expect to answer his feelings. But seeing Takagi’s persistence, who soon gets affected by the overwhelming heat, Miyawaki invites him in for a temporary rest.
What happens next is hard to summarise since it’s not very linear. But Takagi reveals that he had always watched Miyawaki sitting at his desk, writing. He guesses that Miyawaki must be a writer now, and receives a half-hearted answer. Juding from his appearance and condition of his room, Miyawaki’s career is in the slums and he has apparently lost the drive.
Since Takagi shows no signs of leaving, the two of them slowly build up a rapport and start to understand each other more, and also change. Miyawaki is seen slowly having a more proper appearance as he starts shaving and even asks Takagi to help him cut his hair.
Things reach a climax when Miyawaki finds Takagi’s ex-girlfriend at his doorstep. After knowing that only Miyawaki stayed at the house, she soon leaves. Miyawaki soon confronts Takagi about this and apparently, Takagi had quit his job as a salary-man, broke up with his girlfriend whom even had intentions of marrying him, and basically threw everything away and came here.
Miyawaki is both mad and pressurised by this, since he can’t return Takagi’s feelings at all. Moreover, Takagi is merely trying to search for shadows of the old him, whom no longer exists. As Miyawaki clearly spells all of this out harshly, Takagi is left alone to think through the situation again.
As they talk to each other again, Takagi says that when he first watched the news on rumours on TV, most people answered that they would spend the last day with their most important person. Takagi’s mind went blank at that, and all he could think of in his hollow self was the memory of Miyawaki. Miyawaki reassures him that he had went online to double-check those rumours, and it’s just the Mayan calendar ending, and if one ends a new one will start.
He also thanks Takagi but firmly tells him that he can’t continue living in the past. As Takagi finally earns a form of release, Miyawaki is also seen as more positive as compared to when we first met him. He wakes up the next morning to see Takagi gone, with just a note left behind – leaving their next meeting for another time if the world doesn’t end.
At the end, is a 7-page bonus of the first couple with their first-time sex being a bit of a failure lol. This, by the way, is the only signs of sex you’ll see in this title.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the stories in Ringo ni Hachimitsu. It’s a good mix as the first half gives you a sweeter bite, whereas the second half is more bitter. Komano is such a refreshing character and it was nice to read about how such an idiotic couple came to be lol.
I really, really loved Sekai no Owari no Natsu Moyou. Miyawaki is such an awesome character, and totally betrayed my first impressions of him. So what if you don’t see them getting together? It would’ve been really cliché if they did. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t touch each other’s lives and it was really nice to see both of them moving on. The ending has enough closure, but still open to interpretation.
Similar to Negative-kun to Positive-kun, both female characters somewhat go against the conventional females you see in BL manga. Especially Takagi’s ex. Yes, Takagi had his difficulties. But the fact is that her trust was betrayed and this is highlighted clearly as Miyawaki tells Takagi off. Every time I read in other BL manga how certain males use women in such a cruel manner and no signs of regret is shown it cheeses me off. So it was good to see this presented here in a fairer manner.
The art is great, especially in how certain elements are subtlety placed side by side and so on, to give you hints of the characters. You don’t get blasted over and over again about how painful the characters may feel. And I prefer that, since I find myself empathising more with the characters that way. Why? Because that’s life. Everyone goes through painful experiences.
I may be praising this a bit too much, but that’s because now that I’ve read all of Hideyoshiko’s works so far, I think Ringo ni Hachimitsu is my favourite. I really look forward to her future works now. There’s a lot of stuff I left out in my review, and I only covered the most important events. Nevertheless, I hope this review gives you a better idea of what to expect.