Hirayasumi is a wonderful slice of life manga that will definitely appeal to fans of the iyashikei sub-genre. There is a lulling, comforting even, quality to the Shinzo’s storytelling, from his characters to his art style. With little preamble the manga explores every-day experiences of its central characters, giving insight into their lives and the characters themselves (what to they believe in? what makes them happy? what are their anxieties? do they desire, from life, from each-other?). Shinzo portrays their routines in such a soothing yet compelling way that I found myself unwilling to interrupt my reading.
Ikuta Hiroto, one of our protagonists, is a self-described freeter who is in his late twenties and leads a content carefree life. He has no interest in having the kind of life that his peers and his society expects of him, and he is satisfied working part-time and drifting along. He eventually inherits a house that belonged to a neighbourhood granny, who he had struck an unlikely friendship with. He is joined by his cousin, 18-year-old Natsumi, an aspiring mangaka, who has moved to Tokyo to attend university.
Natsumi however feels out-of-place in the city, and struggles to make friends.
I cannot praise this manga enough. It was a balm to my soul. I liked everything about it. From Shinzo’s reflections on modern work culture, to his exploration of loneliness and hope. There was something so refreshing and nonjudgemental about the way he depicts his characters (their personalities, their struggles) and I found the focus on, often unexpected, friendships to be delightful.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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