Genres: Romance, Drama, Shounen
"The one story by Kei Sasuga lost in the dark thanks to Domestic Girlfriend."
(Spoiler Free) This manga was simply a wild ride with a satisfying (yet somewhat rushed) ending. A little bit less emotional (subjectively for me) than Kimi no Iru Machi or Domestic na Kanojo, but still full of expected drama, twists and turns, and sighs of relief. Let's dive right in.
I've read a large number of works. The perfectly articulated yet deeply fleshed out plot, as well as the rollercoaster of a journey we get taken with each individual character both in the main and supporting casts; the way Amyuu tied various hints, important lines, character backstories all back to the main plot consistently time and time again just kept pulling me in and had me glued to this manga like a parasite.
Story Rating - 7/10
The story has its ups and downs, and I'd say that averages out to a 7/10. The reason is because certain arcs execute better than others, and certain plot elements make more sense than others. Near the beginning, it picks up well, as mysteries about Yuki are kept hidden and we see some bit of drama involving Shou, Seiji, and others. The chapters are well-written to the extent of what is expected, and there's pretty much a cliffhanger at the end of every single chapter, which had me glued as a reader. Now, once we reach that mid-portion of the manga until its ending, there were certain times I thought made no logical sense or felt rushed. The breakups and heartbreaks were definitely hard to bare as a reader, but they also need to have some logical context - more than what was given. Certain times made me go, "Wow, I can't believe that happened..." in both good and bad ways. As mentioned, the ending was satisfying as (mostly) everyone's favorite couple ended up together, but there were too many cliches (one's you'd find in a shounen romcom or romance + drama), and the last chapter was pretty much a time-skip speed run.
Art Rating - 7/10
Sasuga Sensei's art took some getting used to at first, as the character designs were not what I was typically used to. What's definite, however, is that most of us readers seemingly got used to the art style rather quickly, as perhaps we were too absorbed in the drama and the story to really care. I personally prefer the style of Seo Sensei's Kimi no Iru Machi, but that's just a minor opinion - every mangaka has their own unique style, after all!
Characters Rating - 8/10
The characters in my opinion were the best component of this manga. Yes - we don't exactly get the full rationale or picture behind some actions/decisions, but we get enough context to develop good emotional attachment or opinions towards certain characters. The main MCs - Seiji and Yuki - display conspicuous development in both decision-making and maturity, with the former (Seiji) showing immense growth - enough for me to have my full support no matter what decision he makes. The characters all go through elements of reality, which aligns with the theme of realistic romance in GE.
One thing I disliked was the lack of conclusive material or rationale behind the endings for some of our other main characters, including Shou, Tsukasa and Risa. You'll have to read it yourself to see if you agree :)
Overall Enjoyment Rating - 8/10
The plot elements and rollercoaster we got reminded me a lot of Kimi no Iru Machi, and if you've read both GE and KNIM, I think you'll get what I mean. However, at the end of the day, I was still heavily glued to this manga and its characters, and I think the drama and plot twists introduced were enough to make this manga unique and enjoyable.
No woman will ever seriously look at a man if he can't even take himself seriously.
I definitely recommend folks, especially those on the romance/drama train, to give this a try!