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.
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.