Manga-ka: Ayumi Kano
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “Kei’s grandfather is a well-known architect, and the young boy cherishes every letter from his beloved relative… until the notes suddenly stop. Now, Kei must visit his grandfather’s distant island home and solve the mystery for himself! Upon arriving, he meets the shy and aloof Michuru, a serious student at the school where Kei’s grandfather once taught. Michiru may have the answers to Kei’s burning questions… but will he cooperate?”
In its title story, Sea View follows a young boy named Kei who enrols himself in a architertual school with the hopes of finding his grandfather. A man reknowned for his talent in the trade, Kei’s grandfather sent Kei building blueprints and notes for years until one day the notes stopped, leaving Kei looking for answers. When he reaches the tiny island that his grandfather called home and his school sits on, he meets a bit of an odd boy named Michuru who may hold all the answers. Following this story is a tale of a photographer who is granted access to a home that’s said to have a beautiful secret garden, one he discovers is tended to by the beautiful but alluringly delicate son of the household.
In the author’s statement on the dust jacket she says the following “…if this book can provide you with even a single moment of relaxation, it will make me very happy!”. Well I hope then that I can spread a little joy to her by saying that I found this book incrediably relaxing to an almost lethargic degree. The whole book had a very soft, fluid feel to it that’s so light and fluffy you can’t help but sucumb to it like a warm bed. This has its up and down sides. While I did enjoy the book, there isn’t much here that I feel would warrant me ever re-reading it. There’s little humour and no huge climatic scenes that could weather the absence of someone’s anticipation during a first time go. It’s the kind of book you enjoy once, sigh with contentment with an honest “That was nice.” and move on.
Of the two stories, I’d say I enjoyed the second the most. I found the character of Ichimura to be especially charming as his personality evolves along with his relationship with the photographer, Isumi. I also liked the darker ink style of the art that Ayumi Kano used and the story in general had a lot of scenes that both emotionally and visually stood out to me, more poignant than the more subtle first story.
Also worth noting, as this is classified as a boys’ love story, that there is little to nothing in the way of a romantic relationship between any of the characters. The stories are more about friendship and discovery (and not of the kind yaois are ripe with). As the book goes, there stories don’t suffer at all from the lack of boys’ love and I think are sweeter still without being shoved in that direction. However, those who’re looking for it could be disappointed.
Ayumi Kano’s artwork did well to match the tone of her story and both are certainly responsible for the overall feeling the book had. It’s visually a simple but pretty style and I was especially impressed with the attention to atmosphere. Lighting inparticular played a big part in setting many scenes and the artist utilized screen toning and occassional heavy inks very well in that regard. The style varies slightly between the two stories and overall I thought the book had a very nice look to it.
Ultimately, Sea View was an enjoyable read but as I said, it may not be one I’ll be reaching for again. The somewhat ambiguous friendship of the characters classifies this as a boys’ love story but it may not satifisy those looking for something a little more clear-cut. Still, if you want something that’s relaxing and will warm your heart, then by all means I recommend giving this one-shot a go. Just because I may not have found it a very exciting read, doesn’t mean I didn’t find it an endearing one.