Manga-ka: Souya Himawari
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: April 2010
Synopsis: “Mizuo, your average modern day teenager, is mysteriously transported into Feudal Japan and worshipped as a Living Buddha in a time when war is the way of life-so it’s no wonder he’s desperate to return home! But Mizuo soon meets the charismatic leader of the Yamako army, Takakage, whose bravado on the battlefield is matched only by his adoration of Mizuo! When Takakage demands that Mizuo stay and become his personal page, will Mizuo still desire to return home?”
Time travel romance is a tried and true staple of the shojo genre, with Fushigi Yugi, Red River and From Far Away being notable titles. Right Here, Right Now uses a similar template to the aforementioned: an ordinary high schooler gets sent to a distant past/fantasy world, is hailed as a deity of some kind, and falls for a hot local. It works just as well in yaoi as it does in other manga, and Right Here, Right Now looks like a fine addition to the time travel romance (time-rom?) genre.
Mizuo’s family are famous tea ceremony practitioners, but Mizuo is less than impressed. He thinks tea ceremony is for girls and resents being made to practice it all the time. After school one day he ditches practice to go check out an abandoned temple. While sitting in the spot where the giant Buddha statue used to be, Mizuo gets transported back in time. Suddenly he’s surrounded by monks and the local heir, Takakage, is proclaiming Mizuo to be a living Buddha.
Mizuo soon figures out that he’s in feudal Japan during the warring states period. The country that he’s in, Yamako, is under constant attack by the Kitagawas. When Mizuo isn’t being dragged into battle as a morale-boasting symbol for the troops, he has to fend off Takakage’s advances. Gradually however Mizuo comes to admire Takakage. Even though he’s just 15 (like Mizuo) he is dedicated to protecting his land and people. Also, he inspires Mizuo not only to take up archery, but encourages him to take pride in his own skills.
But, just as Mizuo and Takakage start to grow close, Mizuo is sent back to his own time. While Mizuo is sad to be separated from Takakage, he at least retains the lessons that he learned in the past: thanks to Takakage’s influence, he joins the archery club at school and takes tea ceremony more seriously. Also, he becomes nicer to his friends and parents. This last one may be in part because he’s been missing for the past month: it turns out while he was in the past, a month went by in the real world, making his friends and family worry. This is a nice touch, and highlights one of the strengths of time-travel love stories – the main character is often torn between their friends and family in the present versus being with the one they love in the past. In Right Here, Right Now, the dilemma is a little more understated. Mizuo is happy to be home, but at the same time he would like to see Takakage again.
Mizuo gets his wish when on one of his regular visits to the abandoned shrine he gets sent back to the past. But when he arrives he doesn’t realize how much things have changed, or how Takakage has changed in Mizuo’s absence. Before Mizuo can talk to Takakage he gets kidnapped by bandits and swept up in Yamako’s troubles once again.
A big deal-breaker for me concerning these kinds of stories is how the main character deals with their situation. They’re in a time and place where they have next to no clue concerning the customs and culture (and in some series, the language). During his first visit to the past, Mizuo is a bit of a passive character, which is kind of understandable given his extreme situation but not the most interesting basis for a main character. However, thanks to his interactions with Takakage he grows and becomes a little more engaging. By the time he makes his second trip to feudal Japan, he’s able to think on his feet and adapt to events around him, becoming an active participant rather than an observer.
Takakage also grows over the course of the volume, though we don’t get to see first-hand the changes Takakage goes through, just hear about it and see the results. The manga-ka does this in a believable way, so even though Takakage’s development takes place off page the reader can picture it easily.
The art is light and cute, but still solid and detailed when it comes to things like clothing. The character designs are alright, though I like the main characters’ designs especially in relation to each other. There are a lot of yaoi series out there where the seme looks like he’s thirty while the uke looks like he just finished puberty (and this despite the couple both being teenagers). That’s not the case here: while Takakage and Mizuo have very different body types, they still look like they’re the same age.
So far the manga doesn’t warrant a 16+ rating. At this point Mizuo and Takakage’s relationship is a chaste one, even with Takakage’s early advances. The leader of the bandits does threaten (and attempt) to rape Mizuo, but if that warrants a 16+ rating than you need one for all the other shojo time-travel stories out there (Miaki got kidnapped and threatened every other volume). The only difference here is that the leads are both guys.
A bonus is the author’s notes at the end. The manga-ka includes the story about how the manga came to be, which isn’t really that exciting (her editor suggested she do a time travel series). More entertaining is the ‘blooper’ pages she includes, showing alternate takes on certain scenes which are pretty hilarious.
If you like these kind of stories, you’ll probably enjoy Right Here, Right Now. It follows a lot of the tropes of the genre, but it never feels tied down by them. It’s a fun, light read, and I found myself wishing I had the next volume when I was done.