A few Saturday news reports ago, I mentioned that George R. gleefully volunteered the news that he had discovered a light novel with Yuri. He also offered up a review for our entertainment and edification. I am delighted to be able to introduce you to our newest Guest Reviewer, George.
You wouldn’t normally expect to find much Yuri a light novel based on a romance adventure game for guys. This one seems to be the exception, and you don’t need strong Yuri-goggles to see it. I picked this novel up when I was in Japan in 2003, and on a whim decided to re-read it. I’m glad I did. I haven’t played any of the Memories Off games, and I feel you can quite enjoy the novel without any knowledge of the game. I also like the way the author, Higurashi Chabou, told the story using a minor girl character from the game in place of the male lead.
Memories Off ~ Precious Hearts 2nd falls into the category of light high-school Yuri. Things never develop much beyond blushes and flirting as a underclassman befriends and helps the sempai she adores.
Maikata Kana is an ordinary, shy Japanese school girl in her first year of high school [yes, her name is a deliberate pun on “Dancing Katakana”]. She has worn glasses with no correction since junior high for appearance and, we find, to put a wall between herself and the world.
One day she stops by a park on the way home from school to watch the sun set, but a pair of thugs accost her wanting to “play.” She is saved by a slender, graceful, strong girl wearing her same school uniform. A couple aikido throws later and the thugs are gone. Kana thanks her savior and find she is Suzuna Takano, a senior. She is further smitten when Takano gives her back her glasses, saying looks good in them.
A boy in Kana’s class tries to get her to join the soccer club, but accidentally lets her know Takano is in the swim club. Kana immediately heads there for a look. Takano invites her in, reassuring her there are no guys in the club. When Takano offers to teach her, Kana’s hesitation over her own ability crumbles. A couple laps by Kana convince Takano she has unexpected ability. A couple laps by her sempai, and Kana signs up with the Takano Fan Club.
In addition to joining the swim club, Kana becomes a good friend of Takano’s. They go together to buy a couple new swimsuits for Kana to use in the club–ones just like Takano’s–and also share dinner and conversation. Takano pleases and embarrasses Kana every time she calls her cute. When Kana later claims she’ll do anything for her, Takano claims this sounds like a line for a boyfriend. This embarrasses Kana, who proclaims undying attachment to Takano. Takano says this would be hard on Kana’s boyfriend, but Kana declares,”I… I’d never date someone like a guy!”
The other girls in the swim club recognize and respect Kana and Takano’s special relationship, as does Takano’s other friend, Futami Shion. Shion is a polite, gentle lady Takano’s age, who regularly uses “gokigenyou.” Her two passions are books and black tea. Takano explains her silver hair and gray eyes: “I think she’s a quarter Scandinavian. But there isn’t a Japanese who loves Japan more than she does.”
Takano lives with her aunt and uncle above their small book shop.They’ve raised her since childhood as if she were their own, and she feels a strong sense of obligation to them. When she hears business at the bookshop is doing poorly–in spite of Shion’s purchases–she even looks to abandon her college plans and start working so she can pay back her aunt and uncle, even though they may not want it. This crisis is averted by the talk with her aunt and uncle Kana recommends and a full-ride athletic scholarship for Takano. Takano’s reaction to stress is to disappear from school and swim club,worrying both her friends and guardians. She first does this when worried about money and college. A very concerned Kana goes looking for her and calls in Shion to help. They find Takano practicing swimming alone after hours. As the three relax over the tea Shion brought, Kana notices the banter between the other two and comments that the two of them are really are good friends. Takano and Shion take Kana’s hands and correct her that it is “The three of us.”
The next time Takano has a bad reaction is to the cold, dark, sea while trying to rescue a little girl. This brings back bad memories from a childhood trauma where she almost drowned and threatens to upset everything as her new fear of water makes her useless as a swimmer – invalidating her scholarship. It does provide a chance for Kana and Shion to look for Takano again, and this time help her overcome her fear.
Kana and Takano grow closer as Takano invites Kana to hear her uncle tell them both about her drowning incident. His tale includes the story of her parents and how she ended up being raised by her aunt and uncle. This leads to a heartwarming conclusion in which Kana and Takano rediscover Takano’s mother, who lost all memories regarding Takano in the incident. She remarried and named her new daughter Takano–though she’s not sure why that name seemed so right. Takano (the elder) is reconciled with her father her to let her mother enjoy her own happy life now without their interference. As her mother leaves, she tells her young daughter that her greatest treasure is not the amethyst pendant she wears–just like Takano and her dad–but it is …Takano.
The novel finishes the day before Takano and Kana’s big swim meet. Shion promises to come cheer them on, and make them tea to relax. Kana is very glad she met these two: people she can believe in, people she can rely on so she can try hard. They opened a door for her to grow. She concludes the novel telling them, “Thank you. I love both of you.”
While the novel leaves it open, I can see Kana and Takano, and possibly Shion, continuing on to lead a life of happy Yuriness together.
Art – 7 (Both front color pages and B&W ones interspersed are nice,but only the B&W ones illustrate scenes from the story.)
Story – 6
Characters – 8
Service – 2
Overall – 7
In the end, I’m glad that I followed my whim and reread Memories Off~ Precious Hearts, letting me renew my acquaintance with Takano, Kana and Shion. While some of the events in Takano’s childhood seem a bit contrived for melodrama in the game, I like the characters and would enjoy sitting down for a cup of tea with these girls.
Erica here once again. It sounds to me that this is more shinyuu than Yuri, but it still sounds like a nice read. :-) I’d also up the Service score – sounds like a *lot* of bathing suit service. Thanks George for the review and the new perspective here on Okazu!