Manga Review: Constellations in My Palm

"I'd been avoiding you because of what happened when we were kids...  And I felt awkward.  That's why I was running from you.  But the whole time, I've wanted us to be like we were in the past. ...And now, I want us to be even more than that." - Mizuho

"Constellations in My Palm" is a very sweet story about two cousins who were best friends growing up.  Mizuho prided himself on having his younger, smaller cousin Enji look up to him.  The two spent much time together and both dreamed of growing up to study astronomy because they both loved the stars.  They were inseparable until an incident happened that caused Mizuho to feel that Enji could no longer idolize him anymore.  Mizuho stopped going to their family's gatherings and years went by until he saw Enji again, when his now taller cousin came to live at his house to attend college to study astronomy.  The two were initially very wary and awkward around each other to the point where Enji was very cold to his once best friend.  Things don't get any easier with a boatload of misunderstandings and a shot down love confession!  However, with this being a yaoi manga, I think you can see where this is going to end up.

I think that this story was very refreshing.  I've read a lot of manga, mostly yaoi, and I am growing very tired of the cliches that clutter so many of these books.  It has gotten to the point that if the manga does not have some type of story mixed in with the characters hooking up, then I'm not going to waste my time reading it anymore.  This story was just what I needed to get me out of the rut I was in.  It is a nice thick book and there is a lot to like here - I love the artist's style.  The thing I love about this book is how it takes its time with the relationship so by the end it isn't like 'who are these people and why do I care that they're sleeping together?'.  It was handled nicely and I felt the pacing was perfect.  Mizuho wallowed in his angst just enough, I thought, any more would have been annoying but any less would have changed the story.  I liked the side characters a lot too, Enji's mentor, Yoshimi especially.  Here's a character that also pined after Enji, but was actually a mature adult who didn't play around with the main characters more than necessary.  I could have seen his character going a very different direction, but I was so glad that it did not.  Mizuho's best friend was also a nice addition to the cast, he actually reminded me a lot of Minota from "Kissing", and that's a good thing.

Even though this book does contain a romantic relationship between two cousins, I felt it was done in a very mature way.  What they were feeling was real and their moments together were so tender and meaningful.  Their romance really didn't bother me at all, although I do wonder how they would explain it to their parents!  The book as a whole was very satisfying, and it felt like there had been a story to be told here.  It wasn't just about the two of them having sex as so many books in this genre are (and that's fine, but I can only read so much of that without getting bored).  It was about following your dreams even if they seem impossible, giving your all if something is worth doing, and being true to yourself.  I am rarely satisfied with one-shots, but this one was really very good.

- Liz