Yuri Manga: Kanojo to Camera to Kanojo no Kisetsu, Volume 1 (彼女とカメラと彼女の季節)

June 22nd, 2012

Even after all the many, many volumes of manga I have read, every once in a while, a manga really surprises me. Kanojo to Camera to Kanojo no Kisetsu (彼女とカメラと彼女の季節)helpfully shortened to “Kano Came” on the cover, is one of those manga.

Akari is a very typical high school girl. She and her friends trade puricula (photo booth photos) and talk about bands and the like.

Akari notices that a classmate of theirs, an aloof girl named Yuki, wanders off by herself quite often. One day, Akari decides to follow her. As a result she discovers a whole new world….

Yuki is an avid photographer, and an enthusiast of old, dual lens cameras. Following Yuki around, Akari learns about photography and realizes early on that Yuki is very talented. The more she learns about photography, and Yuki, the more Akari wants to know.

While all of this is happening, the most popular guy in the class, good looking, smart, star of the baseball team, is showing an interest in Akari. She mostly puts him off, but can’t quite bring herself to outright refuse him. When she’s with Yuki, she feels as if she’s falling for Yuki. When she’s with Fukuyama, she can’t help but be interested in him.

One night, when she stays overnight at Yuki’s, Yuki manages to snap a picture of the two of them kissing while Akari is in the bath.

Her friends have noticed that they are being blown off. They become suspicious of Akari’s relationship with Yuki and jealous of Fukuyama’s interest in her. One day, they tape a picture of her and a picture of Yuki together and surround it with a heart, to tease her (not in a nice way.) Akari’s put out, but Yuki pulls out the developed picture of the two in the bath and that shuts the girls dead silent. It’s so forward, so revealing, their little attempt at light bullying seems childish. More importantly, they realize that Yuki has some skill, and want her to photograph them, but she stomps that down with a nasty comment.

Yuki runs off laughing, daring Akari to chase her, but Yuki quite suddenly collapses. Fukuyama appears out of nowhere and offers to carry Yuki home – after all, he is a childhood friend of hers. Cut out of the loop, Akari can only watch as the two lope off without her. And we can only watch as she watches, and wait impatiently for Volume 2.

Why did this manga surprise me? On the face of it, it’s a pretty bland love triangle. Well, the devil’s in the details. Fukuyama being a “nice guy” helps, but it’s the trend of stomping down the bullies that really surprised me. I’m seeing that here and there nowadays, and every time, I’m pleased by it. But what really stood out this time was what shut the bullies up was being audacious and forward. The lesson there is something completely different than it might have been even a few years ago. In the same vein, the mangaka profile had something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before…a photograph. It kind of blew me away. An actual photo of an actual person. Maybe this is the beginning of that changing a bit, too.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters  – 8
Yuri – 6
Service – 3

Overall – 8

I look forward to the day when manga artists feel comfortable enough putting their photos on their books.

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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hello Erica,

    Thanks for all the nice reviews and other posts. Always a pleasure to read you.

    What’s up with Mangaka and their photographs on their books?
    Is it not a job to be proud of in Japan or is it just related to Yuri and stuff in the same vein?

  2. @Anonymous – Good question. If you read a lot of manga, you’ll notice that most mangaka draw themselves as little characters, animals or something else, usually in a superdeformed style. Sometimes they use a scene or a photo of a landscape on their “About” pages or, very often, show a picture of a pet or food.

    In general, the Japanese are far less likely than Westerners to post pictures of actual people on their websites, unless the person is an idol, actor, singer, or some other personality.

    Being a manga artist isn’t a respectable job. It is low-paying, kind of weird, hard hours for very little return, so there is definitely some sense of not using photos to hide what you do. Most mangaka are writing under pseudonyms, as well.

    A few artists are less “in the closet” about their work, especially among the younger crowd. Tsukiko is one of them.

  3. redfish says:

    This was on my list since the review and I finally got (and read) it last night. The drama was good, but I’d also give extra credit for taking up societal issues that have been pretty well kept out of popular culture (last season’s Sakamichi no Apollon being a pretty hard-hitting exception).

    * No pretense of Japan being an all-middle-class, meritocratic society. Most anime/manga characters still seem to live in a nice suburban house in a quiet neighborhood (those who don’t become the subject of jokes about penny-pinching).

    * It’s acknowledged that the fairly equal world of hig h school instantly disappears after high school ends. Those with the cash and connections go to Tōdai, some will enter various specializations within science/engineering education and yet others will stay back tending the konbini. In this respect the manga kind of reminded me of Saeko Himuro’s Umi ga Kikoeru (probably better known in the west as the Ghibli movie), where nostalgia for the golden era of high school “when everything was possible” is the major plot point.

    * Akari directly referring to what her mother does as お水 was nice. And the mother is really single, not yet another “my father died in a car accident” handwave. Feels somewhat unusual in a Kōdansha title which isn’t squarely josei either. Maybe Usagi Drop made “bad” mothers more acceptable to editors.

    * When Akari finds the picture on her desk near the end, she thinks 「平成のこの時代にこんなことする人いるの?」While Yuki’s reaction you mentioned was more daring, even the “good girl” being able to look past bullying without having an instant breakdown is unusual by manga standards.

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