Kodansha USA has been publishing some titles
that seem like a hybrid between shonen and shojo romance; Your Lie in April,
which I reviewed last year, is up to seven volumes now, and a new release, Forget
Me Not, is now up to its second volume with a third scheduled to be
released in July.
The comic features a seemingly lonely
20-something Yusuke Serizawa working for a law office while studying for the
bar exam. Walking home from work one evening, he gets into an accident and a
mysterious woman takes him to medical care. Later, that same person calls him
in the hospital, and Serizawa realizes that the woman who saved him also knows
him from his past – but won’t reveal who she is. The revelation sets off a
chain of memories as Serizawa attempts to piece together who is savior is and
what he should do moving forward.
While the first volume of the series sets up the
main thrust of the comic in its first half, the second half and the entire
second volume are set in the main character’s past. We see a younger Serizawa
in middle school and high school relationships, crushing on his college-age
cram school teacher, and a college-age Serizawa juggling close friendships and
romantic relationships. He’s generally a sweet kid, but a heart-on-your-sleeve
kind of bumbler, and he lets the relationships he has with male friends
dominate the ways he interacts with women, sometimes in very nasty ways.
Nao Emoto’s beautiful art carries the comics
even when the storytelling is a little choppy. Emoto is especially good at
conveying the emotions of characters, with expressive faces flush with
embarrassment, sadness joy, and sometimes longing. The pacing is a little stop
and start, but with each relationship the story moves at a brisk pace, even
when it seems like the story is might dawdle.
Because of the backwards-looking focus of Forget
Me Not, we get these nostalgia-washed versions of Serizawa’s romantic life.
It’s easy to look backwards and see things as better than they were; if
nostalgia is the act of turning memories into lies, then Serizawa is a liar
through and through.
That said, Hsu and Emoto aren’t really
interested in the reader deciphering “the truth” in the lies of these nostalgic
stories. Rather, each relationship is has some kind of theme. One is based on
difficulty communicating in the same language, while another is affected by the
opinions of a group of bullying friends. Each relationship so far has ended in
a bitter, maybe bittersweet way. The story is, after all, about Serizawa coming
to terms with failed relationships of his past. We’ll see how this plays out
over the course of the next few volumes, but the first two are worth a look.