The first two volumes of this manga are apparently out in English now, titled Wave, listen to me!, a literal translation of the Japanese title. I, however, am reading the manga in French, and its French title is “Born to be on air”. Yes, that’s French.
In my previous post about the first volume, I must have mentioned that there’s something amusing about Hiroaki Samura, with his track record of bloodily violent revenge/crime epics and an occasionally obvious interest in guro, doing a slice-of-life romance. Although he’s done it before. And even in his radically different genre, Samura doesn’t dramatically change his storytelling or drawing style. The pace is slow, the plot structure hard to pin down and the artwork realistic and lovingly detailed. But the most interesting thing is Samura’s dark, slightly bizarre humour that plays with his reputation. Spoiler warning.
In the second volue, Minare starts her radio job, with a first early morning (what normal people call “night”) radio show. The format is designed to sound like an airwave hijacking, and is a one-woman radio play where Minare pretends to be a madwoman who just murdered her boyfriend, Mitsuo, and is waiting for her arrest. The programme gets people’s attention (although an alien abduction twist near the end makes it fairly obvious that it was a stunt, not an actual radio hijack), but ost importantly, it results in Mitsuo contacting Minare, asking her for a meeting.
Because it turns out that while Minare was pretending to have murdered Mitsuo on the radio … the real Mitsuo was actually being threatened with a knife by another, unhinged girlfriend, who wanted to kill him after he screwed her over as well. She freaks out when she hears a radio show basically echo her thoughts and describe the exact scenario she’s in, and runs away. So in a totally bizarre way, Minare saved Mitsuo’s life.
It’s hard to explain exactly why I find this hilarious … There was a similar moment in the first volume, and this is basically Samura playing with his readers’ expectations, making it seem like the story could suddenly turn into horror! It’s unexpected and yet perfectly plausible, in other words: funny.
Minare agrees to meet Mitsuo, still bitter and determined not to forgive him. But Mitsuo seems to have had a change of heart after his near-death experience? Or has he? It’s an interesting sequence, a very honest and realistic explorations of Minare’s complex feelings for her abusive ex. She knows he’s not good for her, he’s still angry and mistrusts him. But she also notices the things she loved about him, and how his quirks complement her quirks, stuff like that. What feels the most real is that Minare almost falls back into old habits when she is with Mitsuo. It’s hard to tell whether Mitsuo is sincere, but there are little things that should set off alarm bells, like his unsolicited comments on Minare’s choice of lipstick colour. It’s always hard to tell with this kind of person – is Mitsuo aware of his own subtly manipulative behaviour? Is it a conscious or an unconscious thing? Not that it matters, because Minare is better off without him either way!
That’s really all I wanted to say. Not a recap, not a review … just wanted to comment on the realistic and empathic portrayal of a toxic relationship, and Hiroaki Samura’s unique, dark sense of humour.