It’s (almost) summer at the time of this writing. Then again, Bay Area weather had been up and down as always, so it didn’t feel like summer at all.
I skipped May because of my hectic real life and I have been going through some website projects and the continuation of my current CCS fanfic I long abandoned back in 2014.1 But, here I am, and I am back (somewhat) to just regular blogging. I’m going to make this short and quick because I only have two days left for this blog linkup. Luckily I only got one to share to all of you.
I’ve gotten back to reading shoujo manga scanlations again. I discovered MangaKoi because it seemed that its primary focus was for underrated, unrecognized, and (most of all) unlicensed shoujo manga. There was one particular manga that I used to subscribe to reading it on some other manga scanlation site, but they were long gone and I thought that the scanlation group dropped the project or that the manga was already licensed. Sadly for me, no (American) licensed versions of this manga currently exist, which meant that a scanlation was somewhere still existing out there. This was back in 2014 I believe.
Finally, after seeing MangaKoi, I found the manga I longed for. That manga is called Last Game by Shinobu Amano. This bittersweet romantic comedy tells the story of two childhood rivals (unintentional friends?) completely opposite of each other who found themselves (one-sided) rivaling against each other through everything, all the way from elementary school and up to the current setting of our story: college/university. I am an avid fan and reader of shoujo manga altogether, but at the same time, I am very picky because I wanted something sweet, funny, and overall unique way of telling the story that doesn’t always fall in the usual genres and tropes that shoujo manga is for. I’ve already mentioned that in my past entry before.
Last Game tells the story of a popular rich (not to mention incredibly good-looking) young man named Naoto Yanagi, whose looks and status didn’t just make him popular with all the kids (especially the girls) in school and everywhere around him, but those same things also made him become boastful, getting himself used to being unbeaten, unrivaled, and most of all, just spoiled by the riches of his family, whose father is the owner/CEO of a successful chain of hotels and resorts around Japan and some other parts of the world. He wasn’t just good-looking and rich, but he also had unsurpassed high marks in school and is also quite smart. In short? Yanagi is every girl’s dream guy and the guy that every guy wants to be.
His life of being rich and famous had always been like that for Yanagi-kun until the arrival of his fifth-grade year of elementary school. A new girl completely opposite of him with a personality of subzero cool arrived in his homeroom class who goes by the name of Mikoto Kujou. Unlike most kids in their school, Kujou was the only one completely unfazed and aloof by the popular dominance of Yanagi (like who the hell has the time to focus on some person everyone knows but don’t really know well anyway?), and only focused on her personal success in the name of her struggling single mother. Yanagi didn’t think much or even gave notice of this plain girl in braids until the latest midterm exam results came out, in which Kujou easily defeated Yanagi, with her being first place and him being second. Because he was being used to being first place, his displacement by Kujou completely upset him, and for the first time in his life, he finally noticed one girl among all the bevy of girls chasing after him… for the wrong reasons. His boastful personality got the best of him by becoming at first, a bully towards the completely laid-back and unassuming Kujou (obviously that didn’t work). He even declared of his family background and his reputation to her, in which Kujou only replied to him: “So your father’s rich, but you’re not.” Ouch.
The rivalry went on between the two throughout the rest of their elementary school years, through middle school, and even through high school. Yanagi’s methods of intimidating Kujou failed several times that when high school arrived for them, Yanagi had the perfect plan that he should have thought of in the first place. Because he was still used to having girls jumping all over him, he decided to take this as an advantage to finally defeat Kujou. His plan was, by the end of high school (and the possibility of them attending different universities anyway), he would make Kujou fall in love with him, and when she does and they start dating, he would dump her like a heap of trash, giving him the ultimate victory for himself. It was a good thing in a way because Yanagi also had a chance to know more about Kujou and her life outside school. He discovered of her family struggles, living in a simple and modest apartment with her single mother (whose father abandoned them altogether), and how she worked hard from taking a part-time job during high school, finding good sales to save money, and just saving money altogether just for her and for her mother to survive. Kujou also had no friends because of that mindset, and felt that having friends can be a distraction to her own survival. It was then that Yanagi was beginning to realize how his inherited fortune from his parents were becoming meaningless compared to Kujou’s mindset of survival in life. That and his hidden plan of an eventual love failure plan gave the result of another ultimate (and somewhat painful) failure for him.
Even at the end of high school and on the verge of entering adulthood, this one failure did not please Yanagi. In fact, just failure altogether is still unacceptable to Yanagi. Unlike Kujou, who had to go through entrance exams and finding the right university that can fit her and her mother’s budget, Yanagi was pretty much set on everything after high school: a full scholarship to a very prestigious university and a chance to study abroad, and of course, a guaranteed entry level position in the family business with his father, which in turn, he would also be the eventual heir of their hotel resort chain business. Even with all that set, it wasn’t enough for Yanagi to feel satisfied until he defeats Kujou in anything: studies, sports, and pretty much everything else. He found himself desperate with this set goal of his that he gave up everything and ending up attending a low-cost public university, the same university as Kujou, not so much to the chagrin of his well-established family reputation.2
Most of Last Game‘s story takes place in the university days. The scanlation actually has one more chapter left before the end of the story. Some say that you learn about life in high school, but I personally disagree. I learned about life in general, as well as broadening my own mindsets and scopes during my university years myself. Through university, both Yanagi and Kujou finally began learning a lot of life lessons. Kujou also began opening up to her classmates and even joined the astronomy club her new friend and her boyfriend established (in which later on, Yanagi and then more people began joining the club even though none of them have any interests in astronomy). Kujou also began discovering the wonders of accounting and how she related herself through accounting, and is the ticket for her survival success, taking accounting as her major. Yanagi was already set in taking business administration, to which accounting is related to. Throughout university, it’s now becoming obvious that Kujou was becoming the leader and Yanagi being the follower (stalker much?). Even with the relationships of others around them, including another popular handsome guy a year younger than them rivaling against Yanagi and even trying to win Kujou’s heart (also a failure by the way). It was through these new relationships that Yanagi was beginning to have different feelings for Kujou, you know, those type of feelings you’d never thought you would feel towards the person whom you despised for the last twelve years or something like that.
Because of these new feelings, Yanagi now has a new goal in defeating Kujou. It’s the same as his goal back in high school, but he is now scratching the latter part: Make Kujou fall in love with him before the end of their college years and stay in love for the rest of their lives. Because before he knew it, he was already in love with her from the beginning. Will he succeed this time, after those numerous failures he attempted to defeat her since childhood?
The good thing about this situation with these two is that everyone else around them already knew the score between them, which also included Kujou’s doting single mother3 and Yanagi’s overwhelmingly successful CEO father.4
The official subtitle that was given to this manga went something like: “A twisted love story, so messed up, that it would truly piss you off so much…” As you read through the story, it somewhat makes you feel like you want to slap both Yanagi and Kujou on their heads and yell at them to just wake up, open your eyes, and look at each other. But then again, any other romcom would make us feel that way. This story isn’t for those who want sappy, super-emotional dramatic love story. This story is for those who aren’t just looking for a feel-good love story, but a type of love story that is very relatable and very real. We don’t get this many shoujo manga stories that take places mostly in college/university. In fact, anything that takes place in college and beyond is already considered a josei manga (adult women’s manga). Last Game is neither shoujo nor josei, but in a way, somewhere in the middle.
I don’t know if this manga is going to be licensed or not, but I do hope that it does, so I can purchase them and have my own copy. I find this manga a rare gem and I highly recommend it to everyone looking for a feel-good romcom not very common in anime or manga altogether. For the time being, you can find it at MangaKoi. We are still awaiting for the final chapter to be posted. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but there are going to be 🎊 very soon.
And that would be it for June’s edition of My Favorite Things. Till next time! ✌️
On the sidenote...
- The NINPOJineous being the main one… [↩]
- not really though… compared to this spoiled brat Yanagi-kun, his family including his father and his pretty older sister are not exactly snooty or conceited as he is. [↩]
- who teases Yanagi that she herself is available (to date) if Kujou rejects him [↩]
- along with Yanagi’s mother and his older sister, already identified Kujou as his girlfriend (and eventual wife) the first time Yanagi introduced her to them [↩]