Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Manga Review: Seven Days: Monday → Thursday

Seven Days: Monday → Thursday / セブンデイズ
Author: Venio Tachibana
Artist: Rihito Takarai (Illustrator)
Digital Manga Publishing
Kindle Edition

Major spoiler warning: Review contains spoilers for the Seven Days series' first volume. Read on with caution!

One early Monday morning, Shino Yuzuru runs into Seryou Touji and asks, "Will you go out with me?" Seryou, who's extremely popular at school, has the odd habit of going out with anyone who asks him out first at the beginning of the week, then promptly dumps them by the end of the week. Shino, obviously, has no intention of being in a serious relationship with anyone, including Seryou. And it's not like it's actually love or anything... or is it? (Source: Goodreads)

I honestly don't know what to say about this series beyond "YES PLEASE THANK YOU CAN I GET VOLUME TWO NOW PLEASE". It really is quite a charming opening volume and packs a lot of character and relationship development in four days' time. Shino and Seryou's relationship is utterly fascinating; it's not like a typical boys' love pairing at all and at first they seem ill-fitted for each other - but the more time they spend together, the more the love between them is evident, like a good romance often does. If these are the kinds of stories that Venio Tachibana can write, then I want more of them ASAP.

First of all: good lord, she's actually reviewing yaoi instead of just talking about it! Yes, well, it does happen. Also, I don't always review yaoi manga and e-manga, but when I do, it's usually at the same time. Ha ha, I made a funny. I'm giving my Kindle Fire a work-out this time around and reviewing the Kindle edition of Seven Days: Monday → Thursday because I'm sure there are people with e-readers sitting on the fence about whether it's worth the money to buy manga on their devices. I can't speak for every device but for the Kindle Fire, it reads like a charm. I didn't have to strain my eyes to read the text and the pages were very easy to flip through. I don't always read manga on my Kindle Fire but when I do - oh, never mind.

Anyway, to the story itself. For those who don't know, Seven Days was originally serialized in the anthology magazine Craft. Craft, which comes out in Japan on a quarterly basis. That is four times a year, y'all. I can only imagine the anticipation verging on nervous anxiety readers had while waiting for these chapters to come out, because once you finish one you just really want to read what happens on the next day. Considering it took almost three years for two volumes' worth of manga, I am selfishly glad that I get to read it right away in tankoubon format (although I wish magazines like Craft would find a niche place for themselves with American fujoshi, I know plenty would buy 'em!).

Before I talk about the yaoi part of Seven Days, I really want to congratulate author Tachibana on creating a cast of female characters that aren't annoying harpy shrews constructed just to stand in the way of true love as a depressing lot of yaoi manga seem to do. Hey, y'all, girls read yaoi! Some girls don't like being seen as home wrecking bitches with no personalities who exist solely to create conflict in the romantic plot; girls can be fleshed-out characters in yaoi too! I especially liked girl!Shino, the one who Seryou is still nursing feelings for at the start of the story. The manga-kas could have easily made Shino a terrible monster undeserving of love, but they didn't. They made her a complicated, real person and for that I salute 'em.

Also, Seryou has some pretty cool female friends that round out the total cast of characters very nicely. Koike is probably my favorite lady character of Seven Days; she’s smart and has a great irate face, and also is one of the many girls who have dated and been dumped by Shino in the past. She’s even proud of it, comparing it to winning the lottery; it’s refreshing to have a romance story with a dearth of jilted bitter exes. It's also nice to see Seryou with his friends as you get a better grip on his personality and who he is - so that when you see him interact with Shino Yuzuru, you aren't seeing two blank slates talking to each other, which is always annoying in yaoi manga.

As for the yaoi portion itself, it is pretty effing brilliant. It's not full-blown sexy-can-I-hit-that-sempai yaoi just yet - Shino and Seryou are still exploring their own feelings and each other's boundaries - but let's be real for a moment. They've held hands. They've had a snuggle in the movie theater. They even kissed. Is a shagging good time really that far off in the horizon for these two? Only if one of them suddenly puts the brakes on their relationship, or the seven days rolls around without either of them confessing. Which isn't to say that watching them dance around the issue of their awkward relationship is boring given how heavily telegraphed the ending is, because it's not, it is immensely enjoyable to read them be adolescent boys kinda-sorta-probably-in love.

It helps that the artwork is so adorable and wonderful that you just want to watch Shino and Seryou sit next to each other in the darkened theater forever. And then wait for them to kiss some more, heh. Sometimes the use of hair shading/non-shading can make differentiating between characters difficult, especially the two boys, but after a while these artistic shenanigans calm down and Shino and Seryou truly become separate characters on the page.

So, who should read Seven Days? Definitely yaoi fans looking for a love story grounded in realism that is also sweet and melancholy and humorous and cute all at the same time. Also, romance fans looking for a couple whose relationship starts from an unlikely basis yet grows organically and beautifully like the one between Seryou and Shino over the course of a week. I certainly can’t wait to read the last couple days of hopefully their first week out of many as a couple.

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