Have I added Mizutani Fuuka to my “squee” list yet? No? Oh well, consider her officially added. Squee! It’s true that my favorite work by her is the entirely straight 14-sai no Koi, but Lonely Wolf, Lonely Sheep comes really close.
Lonely Wolf, Lonely Sheep (ロンリーウルフ・ロンリーシープ) is predicated upon a coincidence. Kakimoto Imari, is sitting in a physical rehab office waiting room, waiting to have treatment on her left hand. That is, two people, improbably named Kakimoto Imari are waiting. When their names are called, it further turns out that they both have left hand injuries and that they are born only one day apart. Thus begins an awkward and sweet friendship that becomes something more.
“Big” Imari is indeed a tall, boyish woman, who works for a landscaping company and is not used to the company of women. “Little” Imari is short, cute and, suffering from depression. As we learn, she is an artist, but suffering from a complete block and has been doing herself harm as a result. Big Imari has a resolution for her problem – Little Imari can just stop painting, and come to work with her at the landscaping company doing mosaics! Which, she does and the two become even closer.
But that leads into a darker, more serious arc, as we meet Imari’s sempai, a unpleasant woman who clearly emotionally manipulates Big Imari in order to keep her dependent. She goes so far as to push Little Imari down the stairs to keep them apart, but Little Imari has other plans and together, she and Big Imari free themselves of the odious presence.
The final chapter has the two of them pondering the chances of such an unlikely meeting. “Almost zero,” Big Imari says, but Little Imari takes her hand and replies, “Not zero at all.” Squee!
This is the second series from Tsubomi that deals with an abusive relationship. This time, emotionally abusive, but the facts are plainly put. It’s only Little Imari’s strength of will to stand up and fight that drives Rika away. And it’s Big Imari that dispels the darkness with which Little Imari has surrounded herself.
As ridiculous a premise as it is, I read every single chapter in Tsubomi rooting for the Imaris. Which is exactly what I like best about Mizutani-sensei’s work. I root for the characters. I *want* them to get together. In a short story about two people meeting in this crazy world, that’s really the very best you can hope for as an author.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 10
Yuri – 8
Service – 1
Overall – 8
So, while its not much more than a really well-told “Story A,” it’s a really well-told “Story A”!