The girl/guy next door, the childhood friend who has always been there for you, who can always read your mood, and knows just what to say; it’s a well-worn trope in every subset of romance. It’s equally as common to show the protagonist unable to return the favor, unseeing when their friend has deeper feelings than friendship for them, as they moon over someone else – usually someone unobtainable. It’s so entirely universal in fact, that it almost boggles the mind.
In Chou Chou Nan Nan (喋喋喃喃), Takemiya Jin takes a(nother) swing at this trope.
Aoi is in love with Chihiro and her best friend Nao can see it from a mile away. Unfortunately, Nao is in love with Aoi and Aoi can’t see it at all. Chihiro can see what’s going on and, because she’s a cheerfuly manipulative jerk, she teases Nao by manipulating Aoi’s feelings. Shino, the fourth of the group is uncomplicated and doesn’t care who is love with whom, just as long as they are all having fun.
There is never any reason to think that Aoi and Nao won’t get together, so it’s more or less just a matter of watching them get there, enjoying the stolen kisses, “shock!” eyes and narrowed eyes/manipulative faces that Takemiya-sensei does so well.
It is also stereotypical that the story comes to a head during the school festival, as Nao plays the prince and Aoi plays Sleeping Beauty. Reading as much manga as I do set in school, I thank my lucky stars that I never once had to do a play in a school festival. (The only thing I can recall doing for a school festival was making a highly popular, heavily alcoholic Black Forest Cherry cake one year for German Club.)
They end up together (of course) and we never learn, really, whether Chihiro feels bad about her role in keeping them apart or finds it all a hilarious joke. I was very much hoping that the doujinshi follow-up “Chou Chou Nan Nan 2” would look at Chihiro’s real feelings (my bet is that Chihiro found it hilarious. People like her are never sorry. ^_^;), but instead it gives Aoi a chance at taking the lead in a kiss for once. Also okay. ^_^
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 7
Service – 2
Overall – 7
A pleasant trip along a favorite path, decorated with beloved flowers. We all know it well, but it’s perfectly fine to enjoy it once again. ^_^
Many thanks to Jye N. for being kind enough to get “Chou Chou Nan Nan 2” and several other doujinshi for me! I’m savoring every page. Thank you for your kindness!