12 Days V: I don’t really want anyone else to know about this side of you

宮村くん!! | もちゃこ

宮村くん!! | もちゃこ

Two high school students inadvertently discover a different side of the other than they usually present to the rest of their classmates and now they’re both in on the secret. At first, it’s just fun as they discover more and more about what the other person is really like. This all very naturally segues into a cute romance as the relationship grows. It’s all very nice and fuzzy and funny and adorable—mostly. It’s really easy to forget that the dorky Miyamura that we’ve gotten to know is someone who, when we first meet him, is someone who’s given up on other people. So occasionally, we’re treated to some delving into his past which serves as a reminder of how far he’s come. Like everything else in this manga, it’s not heavy-handed and it all comes together naturally. You really can’t help but feel glad that he’s managed to find a bit of happiness now.

12 Days IV: Did someone say seeaboo?

近いようで | 野

近いようで | 野

Nagi no Asukara was a pretty show about racism and involved an intricate love polygon. You had your fish people and your land people and MC-kun in love with naive girl who was in love with the land boy who loved the sea and you had MC-kun’s best friend who was in love with the mature girl who was in love with our brash MC. We’d all seen this before, we knew how this was going to go down. Of course, we didn’t and our collective boat sank to the bottom of the ocean, but in its place, I got an amazing to ship to sail on.

12 Days III: Natural Justice Warrior

サムライフラメンッコ! | がう

サムライフラメンッコ! | がう

Samurai Flamenco is about a model who wants to be a superhero who meets a cop. They become really good friends and fight evil. What exactly evil is changes over the course of the show, but Masayoshi stays the course in his idealism about being a hero while Gotoh is there to bail him out whenever he gets way in over his head. The show as it presents itself at the beginning gives us something fun and interesting enough to be satisfied, but whoever wrote it clearly was not. This show goes places with the force of a rocket headed to Alpha Centauri. But even as we’re hurtling past the stars, the show remembers what’s important: Masayoshi and Gotoh being moe together.

12 Days II: Take a look, it’s in a book, an eating rainbow

銀河鉄道の夜 | ライオネル中村

銀河鉄道の夜 | ライオネル中村

It’s been a long journey, but I’d finally finished the main story for Bungaku Shoujo near the beginning of the year. Bungaku Shoujo (localized as Book Girl, which I think is a terrible name — the fan translated name Literature Girl sounds much nicer, imo) is a light novel series about a boy who was an aspiring author until he went through some trauma in the past and a girl who eats books. Upon discovering that the guy can write, the girl makes him write stories for her to eat. Along the way, they solve some dark mysteries that stem from literature, so that the self-styled literature girl can flex her incredible knowledge and save the day.

This is pretty standard stuff for light novels. You’ve got your main character who just wants to lead a normal school life. Of course, he can’t do that because he’s being dragged around by the annoyingly energetic but strangely captivating girl (who herself is easily captivated by seemingly random things). She’ll do something crazy and he’ll be bewildered and make some snappy comeback or something. And then there are other characters to round out the cast and they’re even in the school book club. So we’ve hit all the requisite light novel notes.

The main difference comes not in the really overt references to higher literature or the mystery solving, but in the incredible self-loathing that every character seems to possess. It might be obvious that each mystery has to do with the book of the day, but SPOILERS the actual solution always comes with the revelation that one of the characters really, really hates themselves. I feel like the anime adaptations do not really adequately capture this.

Now, each book only resolves the mystery, but doesn’t really cure any of the characters. They just kind of learn to deal with it and show up in later volumes despising themselves more openly, but also not actively causing harm, so that’s progress, I guess? Anyway, while that’s all interesting as far as light novels I’ve read go, let’s be real: what I really stayed for was the Konoha/Tohko.

12 Days I: 僕らのGOOD君との0001

みんなで叶える物語 | うえはら

みんなで叶える物語 | うえはら

I watched one episode of Love Live when it aired before being perturbed by the CG dancing and crossing it off my list. Time passed and one day, I found myself in Akihabara, being shown around by twitter user @aliveinthewired. In one of the shops, he pointed out a card featuring Honoka and noted how eerily she resembled one of the Kawaiikochans. What he said that day stuck with me, and only a few months later I’d watched the show and wasting a ton of time with the stupid mobage. Now I know: Umi > Eli > Maki > Nozomi > Kotori > Honoka > Nico > Rin > Hanayo.