Years passed and the next time they met, Michiru was pregnant. After the baby’s father died, Maya moved in with Michiru to take care of Yuuta – under the strict rule that there would be nothing between them except friendship. Michiru, her son Yuuta who appears to be about 2 or 3, and Maya live in apartment together. It’s probably not terribly surprising that Maya is the more responsible of the two. Almost right away, when Michiru is feeling sulky and lonely, she asks for a kiss, violating her own rule.
Acting as a surrogate father figure is the guy who lives below them, Niko. He’s a goof, but he truly adores Yuuta and the two women trust him. At one point he’s heading off on a trip and encounters Maya and Yuuta on the street. He takes Yuuta, puts him on top of his luggage and starts to wheel him away. After about three steps, he whirls on Maya yelling at her to stop him already! He’s cute.
And then there’s Yuuta. let’s say 2 1/2, he’s a kid. That means sniveling, snotty noses, tears when a favorite cup breaks, etc. But he’s a good kid, smart for his age and he tries hard to be strong for his mother. He loves pudding, and he likes shiny stones which he collects and keeps in a box.
This is Ohana Holoholo（オハナホロホロ）.
In the most touching and best-written chapter, Niko and Yuuta are out shopping. Niko tells Yuuta to never let go of his hand. But when Yuuta sees a shiny gold-paper filled box of candy, it’s Niko that lets go to pay for it. Yuuta and he are separated. Niko is devastated. He calls Maya and they talk to the department store staff. When they can’t find Yuuta, Niko breaks down in tears. Maya knew that Niko and Yuuta’s father had been friends – he tells her that, in fact, they had been lovers. He’s treasured the memory of his dead lover through his son. At which an announcement over the PA tells them that Yuuta’s been found – asleep in a bed in the bedding department. They all go home, where Maya asks if Michiru knew that Niko and Yuuta’s father had been together.Michiru replies that she knew he had a lover, and when she met Niko she wondered if he might be the one. At home Yuuta recived the shiny candy box with joy, then hands out all the candy in it to the three adults, and carefully displays his rock collection in the pretty gold paper, his face glowing with utter contentment. (^_^)
After that, you’d be a right bastard if you didn’t like the kid.
The real problem in the series is Michiru. She’s childish, selfish, and annoying. She left Maya once and really hurt her. We can see that Maya still has abandonment issues.
When Maya encounters an old school friend who does a kindness for Yuuta, Michiru sees them hugging, gets jealous and runs back to her mother’s house with Yuuta. Yes, she does it *again*. Maya is devastated.
When Niko arrives home that night, there’s Yuuta and Michiru in his apartment. Michiru admits that when she arrived at her mother’s place, she finally realized it was probably a hug between friends, but now she’s frightened of going back upstairs, because Maya will be angry. The problem is solved when Maya comes down with pudding to share with Niko and Yuuta tackles her. Maya mildly welcomes Michiru home. In the next chapter, they have it out. Michiru admits she was afraid she’d be thrown away for the guy and Maya sensibly points out that leaving people is Michiru’s behavior, not hers. Michiru apologizes and is forgiven.
The last chapter is about pudding.
This series ran in Feel Comics and I wish I had known about it when it was running. (Update: It’s still running – I just got the most recent issue of Feel Young and there it is!) Shodensha is quietly pretty LGBT friendly. They run Yamaji Ebine works and although those are less and less LGBT-themed, any lesbian or gay characters tend to be very sympathetic, competent and likable. I find I’m a big fan of alternative family stories, although I have no idea why. It’s just nice to see that it can all work.
Maya’s serious, but not a prig, Niko’s a goof, but not an ass, Michiru’s a jerk, but not to the point of endangering Yuuta and Yuuta’s a good kid. The story is touching in places, but not soppy.
It all works.
Art – 7
Story – 9
Characters – 8
Yuri – Nothing in the story proper, but it is part of the history – let’s call it a 4
Service – A resounding 0
Overall – 8
I am so in the mood for pudding now….