Hatsukoi Kouzoushiki (初恋構造式), the collection of shorts by Syuninta Amano, is a bit like bag of shiny tumbled stones – the point isn’t whether any of them are precious, just that they are enjoyable and shiny. ^_^
Of the stories in this collection, my favorite was the very first, “Otona no Onna ha Muri o Shinasai” in which a young (well to me she’s still young) woman in her mid-twenties, starts to feel the inevitable creep of time on her youth. She wonders how she became so risk-averse, so *boring.* Drinking with a co-worker, the two women talk about young love and how wonderful it was back then. She decides that she absolutely has to break out of this rut no matter what so, the very next time she and her coworker go out, she orders the extra-super-hot ramen…and eats it. It tastes terrible, it’s too hot to enjoy, but she eats it, dammit! And with swollen lips and drippy eyes, confesses her feelings to her coworker, who kisses her confidently, making her lips hurt even more. It’s a great story about small triumphs and the importance of pushing our boundaries. I just loved this story, honestly. This is the lesson I try to communicate to young (25 is young!) people all the time. Don’t let the world become too much – just do a thing. If it frightens you, all the better. Try new things if you don’t want to become a “get off my lawn” person. ^_^ I’m calling this story the bloodstone of the bunch – dark jasper with flecks of bright red-orange.
“Yume Mieru Yoake” is a story about sexual harassment, sort of, that turns into sex. It’s sexy as long as you don’t think too hard about the moral of the story. O_o This one is snowflake obsidian – flashy, and a little dark, but overall pretty.
“Cell Frame no Mukougawa” takes the old chestnut of the woman who wears glasses who, with a few strokes of makeup can turn heads, and has a little fun with it. Blue lace agate, surely? Bright, cheerful, colorful and fun.
I don’t know what to make of “Backshot.” Let’s just call this one the polished plain agate of the pile. It’s got character, but I don’t know if it appeals to me.
“Sanmanen de wa Kaemasen” is a morality play, a sort of a Yuri version of the old “true love redeems a prostitute” story beloved of operas, without the death by disease part. This is classic melodrama. This story is a big chunk of smoky topaz, set in a fancy costume jewelry ring.
And finally, the title story, “Hatskoi Kouzoushiki” tells the story of an adult who, eventually, finds love with the daughter of the woman she used to love. It’s a story that could have been quite uncomfortable-making that wasn’t. The ending totally works for me. This story is a nice untumbled piece of rutilated quartz, left raw in matrix. Lots of potential, no particular shape.
Art – 9 – I admit it – this is pretty much exactly my favorite kind of art
Story – Variable, let’s say 8
Characters – Same as above
Yuri – 10
Service – 5
Overall – 9
The best part about a bag of stones is that you can take them out time after time and enjoy the colors, shapes and textures. That is exactly what I’ll be doing with Hatukoi Kouzoushiki. Taking it out from time to time and enjoying each story over again.