Very occasionally, I come across a creator whose work I should like, but, for whatever reason, I cannot. If you’re a regular reader here, you’re probably wondering if I have some personal beef with Hakamada Mera-sensei or something – maybe she kicked my puppy or was rude to me? No, not at all. I have never met her and I’m sure she’s lovely. She’s certainly very hard working and prolific and I admire that deeply.
So, what the heck is my issue with her work? I don’t know what it is – it just misses the mark. I used to think it was because the feelings were vague and could have been anything, as in Saigo no Seifuku, but then that finished that up with a bang-up ending. And then I thought it was that her characters never got past basic confessions, but then she drew Kanojyo no Sekai and I though that was too much.
And then there was Eden no Higashitotsuka Volume 1. And again, it was close, but it put a tedious trope in as the main plot and it tired me all out all over again. Now we’re at Eden no Higashitostuka, Volume 2 and I really, truly tried to like it. I really did. I promise. I feel terrible though, because it just misses the mark again for me. I didn’t hate it, I never hate her work, it just doesn’t resonate.
Kiku, our protagonist, wants a better life for herself, so she’s determined to do well and become an elite. Her next-door neighbor, the chaotic neutral Hiyoshi appears to be getting in her way, but as the pages of Volume 1 end, Kiku has come to grips with Hiyoshi’s place in her life.
In Volume 2, Hiyoshi turns out to have a girlfriend – the student council president of her old school. “Lovers” they tell Kiku, but it is clear that they have little physical relationship – and Hiyoshi really doesn’t know what it means to be “lovers.” Hiyoshi, I’m sorry to say, doesn’t really know a lot of things, and moves through her own life being clueless about the people around her. So when she studies a bit and gets better grades than Kiku and can draw better than Kiku, she cannot even remotely guess why Kiku doesn’t want her around. At this point we are told a heart-wrenching story about how/why Yutenji-sempai and Hiyoshi are dating, but instead of making her seem more sympathetic, I felt that it made Hiyoshi seem more aggressively clueless. Causing pain unintentionally is one thing, but being unable to even see that you’re causing pain is something else – and not something I find sympathy-making.
Yutenji-sempai pretty much tells Kiku all this, and Kiku, who again realizes that her life is less fun without Hiyoshi, makes a decision. She comes home to their dorm to learn that it will be torn down. Kiku makes up with Hiyoshi and they take out their frustration by destroying a wall together.
The epilogue shows Kiku and Hiyoshi living together as adults. Kiku has realized her dream of becoming elite. She has it all.
And I’m left wondering what it was that I wanted out of this story.
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 6
Yuri – 2
Service – 2
Overall – 6
Clearly the problem here is me. And I’m sorry for that, Hakamada-sensei.