Tuesday, December 20, 2022


 It's so nice for once to be reviewing a Kodansha-published shojo manga and not walk away from it bored or frustrated with its gender politics for once.

IN THE CLEAR MOONLIT DUSK (Uruwashi no Yoi no Tsuki), by Mika Yamamori.  First published in 2020 and first published in North America in 2022.


Yoi Takeguchi is used to being a called a prince.  After all, she's a tall girl with a more masculine look and a deep voice.  She's used to all the girls swooning over from a distance and all the boys staying away.  That's why she's so confused by Kohaku Ichimura, a new boy who's also cool and good-looking.  He thinks she's gorgeous and tries his best to sweep her off her feet.  Will Yoi ever accept the idea of someone treating her like a girl for once?


I came to In the Clear Moonlit Dusk for the "prince meets a prince" angle, but I kept reading it because it's just a well-crafted shojo drama.  Yoi is a great heroine, even if a sensible reader might find themselves getting a little frustrated with her at times.  Her quiet aggravation at how the whole 'prince' persona distances her from her peers makes perfect sense, but her insistence at dismissing all of Ichimura's overtures as fake or mocking and using the same social norms she hates as a shield can be frustrating.  I can't complain too much though.  I know that as a high school kid I too would have presumed that any overt romantic overtures made at me must be a mistake or an attempt to mess with me because nobody could possibly like me in that manner.

Ichimura is definitely pretty good as far as shojo love interests go.  He may be ridiculously rich, but he prefers to downplay that part of his life and doesn't play games with his emotions or hers..  It's perfectly understandable why he'd find Yoi attractive in the first place.  While he sometimes pushes a little at her boundaries for the sake of getting a reaction or trying to get a better idea of Yoi's true personality, he never goes too far.  Furthermore, when he think he might be overstepping his bound (like showing up unannounced at her family's curry restaurant), he apologizes without making a big production out of it.  He is clearly doing some good for Yoi emotionally, encouraging to her to pay less attention to how others perceive her and to more clearly voice her thoughts and emotions.  It's a good foundation for a romance, but it's not so functional that it doesn't leave any room for personal drama, and if that's not a good start for a shojo manga then I don't know what is.


Yamamori is certainly good at drawing attractive, androgynous teens.  Yoi has a look that could be easily read as masculine but doesn't sacrifice beauty.  She seems to put a lot of importance on eyes, as both Yoi and Kohaku have a lot of focus put upon their large, frank eyes and the quiet emotions behind their gazes.  I also appreciate that she draws proper noses that are visible outside of profile - sometimes that feels like a lost art in shojo manga.  Her overall style is not too fussy.  She doesn't use a lot of screentones and her panels are pretty unadorned.  The craziest she gets are some goofy SD-style faces and the inevitable roses whenever one of our leads does something princely. 


I just want to note how unfortunate it is that the translation team who worked on this book were part of a company that scammed a bunch of freelancers out of proper pay because Kodansha continues to farm out translations to the cheapest, sketchiest companies possible instead of just paying their freelancers directly and paying them fairly.


In the Clear Moonlit Dusk has the advantage of both a novel premise and writing that is emotionally compelling without trading on tired (and sometime abusive) romantic tropes.  Definitely check this one out, especially since it's one of the few shojo titles Kodansha put into physical print (and thus needs all the support it can get).

This series is published by Kodansha Comics.  This series is ongoing in Japan with 5 volumes available.  1 volume has been released and is currently in print. 

Only five days are left in our Holiday Review Giveaway! Let us know what your favorite manga of 2022 was and you might win a $25 RightStuf gift certificate!  Find out more at this link!

No comments:

Post a Comment