Title: Chasing After Aoi Koshiba Vol. 1
Author: Hazuki Takeoka
Release Date: April 27, 2021
When first picking up Chasing After Aoi Koshiba, I didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did. Not only is this a coming of age story for our main protagonists, but it also puts the spotlight on the ways people push themselves to fit in, be admired, and make friends. Its themes are so subtle through the pages, but they add up to provide a powerful message.
Chasing After Aoi Koshiba Vol. 1 introduces us to Sahoko Narita, a girl whose only real worry is how the outside world sees her. She has spent a lot of time on herself to become popular by surrounding herself with cool friends, wearing the highest fashion, and religiously posting to Instagram to rack up Likes. She tries so hard at this but can’t understand why she is envious of her sporty classmate, Aoi Koshiba.
They aren’t really close or anything, but Narita decides that being friends with Koshiba will not only make her Instagram feed more attractive, but it will also make her happy. Her way of going about this is strange, though, and right away, you can tell that this is not typically how someone would approach making a “friend.” After a really close encounter, Narita turns into a sort of energized stalker looking to learn more about Koshiba’s life and become closer to her.
The interesting moments of the manga happen through time skips. You get to see Narita as a college student and then jump back to her high school life. This is important because Koshiba is not present in the future, but Narita longs to piece together where their relationship went wrong. The manga has these underlining yuri themes, but nothing is admitted in the pages, and Narita’s actions are as surprising to her as they are to everyone around her.
However, tension builds when you start to wonder what happened between these characters and if there wasn’t something else that came between them. Nothing is answered explicitly, but there’s enough here to keep you engaged across each page.
The illustrations are just lovely as they highlight Narita’s mode change when Koshiba is or isn’t around perfectly. There’s a sense of vanity here, as well as Narita’s idea of what’s cool and uncool is screwed in a way that limits her from doing certain things. This shows wonderfully in the panels, which even assist in selling the more humorous scenes of boys talking about Narita’s appearance, even when she’s in earshot.
Chasing After Aoi Koshiba Vol. 1 takes a yuri romance but paces it naturally as Narita figures out precisely what she wants in life. Whether or not this affects those around her is yet to be seen; you can’t help but hope she finds a place where she naturally fits in. The time jumps are essential for building tension as we await what the future holds for these characters and what ultimately came between them.
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