So today I’m going to write about a manga that really made an impression on me. Again, this was recommended to me by a friend but I wasn’t so keen to feel all sad, weepy and painful over reading a manga (which was how she described it to me: ‘Read Koizora! It’s really good but it’s so sad!’ because since back then, I preferred the light-hearted shoujo mangas with sweet romances and happy endings.
Koizora was picked up because I’d decided to give it a try and boy, was it the most realistic, painful and heartbreaking story I’ve ever read. Yet, it was also the sweetest and most touching story ever too. I’m pretty sure many girls out there are like me, who don’t like sad endings and realism in stories because the point of us reading fictional stories is so we can escape reality. But Koizora combined fantasy and realism together and it sure felt like it all personally happened to me. Like I was going through the pain and I was the one who had lost my first love. That was how good it was.
The story is said to be based on the author’s real life experiences, Mika and the art is by Haneda Ibuki. The genres of this story are Drama, Mature, Romance, Tragedy, School Life, Shoujo and Slice of Life.
Tahara Mika is a first-year high school girl who dreams of finding a boyfriend and having a sweet love. Her friend, Aya is a mature, insecure girl who is extremely concerned about her looks and jumps from guy to guy, claiming that they are all ‘her type’. One day while observing two guys fighting in the corridor, Aya notes that she has her eyes on one of the guys, Nozomu, who’s famous for being a notorious playboy. After the fight, the guy attacking Nozomu leaves and Nozomu notices Mika and her friends standing in a corner. He approaches them, directly addressing Mika and asking her for her number. Mika is taken aback and refuses to give him her number while Aya steps in and asks to exchange numbers with him instead.
Aya tells Mika that she really likes Nozomu and wants to go for him. Mika cheers her on. Later on, she gets a call from an unknown number and finds out that the unknown number is Nozomu’s number. She starts to receive general messages from him, asking her about her day and Aya admits that she told Nozomu Mika’s number because he’d asked her for it. Mika gets increasingly annoyed with Nozomu’s messages and one day, she receives a call from an unknown number. Afraid that it’s from Nozomu again, she refuses to pick it up. Her friend picks it up instead and passes it to her, saying that she shouldn’t run away from it. Mika answers the phone and true enough, the caller is Nozomu. He gets the phone taken away from though and the caller is replaced by someone else who tells Mika that Nozomu was drunk. Mika is surprised at the caller’s voice – his gentleness and calmness and is intrigued enough to continue holding a conversation with him.
The guy introduces himself as Nozomu’s friend, Sakurai Hiroki and he asks if she can tell him her phone number. Even though Nozomu had previously asked the same thing, Mika doesn’t hate it and gives him her phone number. Everyday after that, they would phone each other and talk about many things. Mika would feel at ease listening to his voice and so began to develop feelings for this mystery person. The two agree to meet on the first day of the new semester.
When Mika is told that the delinquent-looking guy who had hit Nozomu back then is Hiro, she is stunned. Subsequently, he tells her to meet him after school the next day. Hiro notices that she’s now speaking more formally and sitting far away from him – signs that she’s afraid of him. He gives her a charm for family peace and prosperity and tells her that talking to her on the phone made him feel at peace, like he was made clean. As he talks, Mika begins to realise that he is the same gentle Hiro who’d spoken to her on the phone after all. He promises never to trouble her again and starts to leave but Mika stops him, honestly voicing out her feelings for him.
Mika and Hiro begin their relationship tentatively, however, they run into obstacles almost immediately with news that Hiro still has a girlfriend from another school named Saki. Hiro tells her that they had already broken up but Mika remains doubtful. Mika eventually leaves Hiro when it’s revealed that he actually hadn’t broken up with his girlfriend yet. Then one day, she discovers pre-sale tickets to a movie that they had both previously wanted to watch before and when Aya tells her that Hiro has always loved her all along, ever since they entered high school. Mika realises how much she actually loves Hiro and runs off to find him. The two confess their feelings for each other and become a couple once more. At this point of time, Aya has also become a couple together with Nozomu and the four of them enjoy their days going out on double dates.
Problems and obstacles occur later on along the way, such as Saki’s constant harassment on Mika for being dumped, Mika’s depression that leads her to slice open her wrist, Nozomu’s inclination towards Mika, Mika’s sudden and unplanned pregnancy, her unfortunate miscarriage and Hiro’s sudden and abrupt change that leads him to dump Mika cruelly without explaining to her the reason why. Of course, all these causes Mika great pain and hurt that she desperately tries hard to forget as she carries on with her life.
Eventually, she finds comfort in a guy who is older by a few years, Yuu, who heals and mends her heart with his genuine kindness and gentleness. He falls in love with her and she finds comfort in the safety of his arms. Mika and Yuu have a comfortable relationship with Yuu constantly protecting her heart and happiness, being extremely considerate of her so she doesn’t get hurt. However, Mika can’t seem to forget about Hiro and on the 2nd anniversary of her baby’s death, she discovers the truth about Hiro from Nozomu.
From there, she makes an important decision and decides to follow her heart.
The story as I said above, has many heartbreaking and sad moments. One of the saddest yet touching scenes was the scene at their graduation. In chapter 17, Mika visits the library one last time, the place which held many memories for her and wistfully gazes at the blackboard. There, she writes down ‘Were you happy?’ thinking about Hiro.
Later on, she visits the library again to look at the blackboard but when she looks at it, she sees a new message under it that broke my heart:
‘I was so happy’
There were many other touching scenes, such as the whole of chapter 29, the last chapter whereby the story is told through Hiro’s eyes and his diary. He ends off by telling her that he was very happy and that he can confidently say it. He goes on to ask her:
Mika, were you happy?
Such a simple question that killed me while I was reading it. T.T
Overall, this is a wonderful coming-of-age story that follows us through the female protagonist’s life as she matures and overcomes obstacles and challenges that stand before her. She learns that love isn’t all fluffy and happy as she had imagined it to be and that you should be grateful for everything that has happened because it makes you who you are today. It was heartening to see Mika grow as a person and become a strong young lady in order to stand on her own and support others.
Also, I do think there’s something very special about the dialogue of the story as it made it seem very personal. When Mika went through hurt and pain, it felt as though I, personally felt it too. This ability to evoke first-person emotions in a reader is amazing and that’s probably one of the reasons why Koizora is so good. The pain of losing someone was also wonderfully portrayed and conveyed – probably because of the detailed character development of the characters.
Koizora is a piece of art and it’s the perfect story that strikes a balance between fantasy and realism of love. Because as we know, love isn’t all smooth and beautiful as we imagine it to be, but that doesn’t mean that love isn’t wonderful. Throughout Mika and Hiro’s relationship, there were many beautiful moments and because they were there among the painful moments, they became precious and special.
Don’t you think so? 🙂
Art: 10/10 (Facial expressions are extremely important in capturing emotions to evoke in the reader. I definitely felt it)
Story line: 10/10 (Beautiful, heartrending and touching, to sum it up)
Chapter length: 10/10 (Almost always 50+ pages)