Manga Review: Kissing

"What I can't believe... is it's one thing to kiss in a given situation.  But for people who supposedly don't have anything going on... it shouldn't look so natural to share stuff off the same plate." - Minota

"Kissing" is a one volume manga that revolves around best friends Haru and Kazushi.  These two had been very close since they were little and always celebrated their birthdays together, since they were only a few days apart.  The story begins with the two in college, when Kazushi kisses Haru in front of a girl so she would stop asking him for a date.  Haru is understandably annoyed, but his annoyance is short lived once Kazushi confesses that he's in love with him.  The unexpected confession confuses and unnerves Haru, and their friendship suffers as he agonizes over his feelings for his best friend.  Haru had never given thought to loving another guy, although his main concern was over the fact that it was Kazushi, and he worried that their friendship would never be the same again.  However, this is a yaoi manga, and it is expected that all the angst would only lead to a satisfying conclusion where Haru and Kazushi hook up.  And hook up they do.  The book ends with a short extra that takes place before the beginning of the book.  It shows how far back Kazushi's feelings for Haru started, and when their friend Minota learned of Kazushi's crush.

This book was really very enjoyable.  It is a little on the longer side, which I love, and it is just one of those feel good books that always leave me happy when I'm done reading them.  All the characters were very likable and well developed, and I thought Haru's realization of his feelings was very gradual and believable.  I love this artist's style as well, the characters all look unique and I love the clothing that she chose for them.  They actually dressed like real people, and they each had their own style.  I especially loved Minota's sunglasses, and he was actually my favorite character.  The way he silently rooted for them from the sidelines was nice, and he was just such a good friend.  The side characters in manga almost never seem developed enough for my taste, but Minota was great.  The pacing of this book was very good, and I felt that Kazushi and Haru's relationship was that much better because they were both well rounded characters with their own interests and goals.  Although this book didn't have any unique plot twists or anything, it was a very solid story and I enjoyed it very much.

I really recommend this book.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and I always end up liking it even more every time I read it.  Although this story (childhood friends falling in love) has been done many times already, this one just really stands out in my mind because it told the story so well.  I love the characters, and how sweet was the 'best friend of the year' trophy?  Haru's face when he realized Kazushi had had it engraved has got to be one of the most poignant moments in the book. The amount of little details like that really went a long way in fleshing out the story and characters.  "Kissing" is a great manga and is one book that I am very happy to have as a part of my collection.

- Liz