Kiss in the Blue is by Kaho Miyasaka, and it spans four volumes. I really didn't have a favorable first impression of it. I thought it's primarily a suspense story, with probably some horror and sci-fi thrown in. It doesn't help that it doesn't have colorful, cutesy covers. It has covers that make me think of... suspense stories with some horror and sci-fi thrown in.
One day, I was idly scanning through the list of completed projects by the awesome Shoujomagic group, looking for a good romantic read, when I saw Kiss in the Blue again. And I was like, "Hey, there's 'kiss' in the title. Maybe there's a tiny smidgen of romance in this after all." And I remembered some Shoujomagic fans raving about how great it is and how much they looked forward to each chapter release. And I was desperate and really bored out of my mind, so I decided to give Kiss in the Blue a try.
Once again, I had judged a book by its cover only to be proven wrong. I mean that in a literal sense. I really judged Kiss in the Blue by its cover. When I flipped to the first page, I was taken aback at how nice the artwork is, how very shoujo-like.
It's definitely not a colorful, cutesy story, I wasn't entirely wrong in thinking that it has a dark side. And things didn't really turn into a fairy tale for the heroine, Chise. But that's the beauty of this story. Yes, it is romance, and for that I think this is a great read. Its story also has a great element or two that go against the cliche shoujo romance situations.
And then, years later, a darker incident occurred. Chise was abducted and raped. The whole experience was so traumatic that she repressed most of it.
The story starts three years following Chise's abduction. For the most part, she is a normal high school girl who attends her classes. She is intrigued by the seatmate she had never met, Kaoru Katsuragi. Her good friend, Tamaki Harukawa, protectively looks after her.
One day, she visits a pool hall with her friends. Things go out of hand, and she is separated from her friends. Some guys tried to pick her up. Fortunately, she was saved by the guy who kind of serves as the pool hall's bouncer. Of course, he's very attractive. She finds out that he is actually the elusive Kaoru Katsuragi. She also noticed that he bears a scar similar to her.
The following day, she gets harrassed by this unfamiliar guy named Tamiya. The strange part is that he acts as if he knows her well. When he tries to attack her, Kaoru came to her rescue yet again.
Despite these disturbing events unfolding around her, Chise is inexplicably drawn towards Kaoru. But the closer she gets to him, the more she remembers what happened three years ago. Worse, it appears that Kaoru played a key role in it. Tamiya makes this pretty clear, and her father wants her to stay away from Kaoru at any cost. Even her brother, Kyohiko, ended up turning against Kaoru.
Chise and Kaoru's pasts are actually more intertwined than she thought. But even when she finds out everything that happened, she still wants to be with Kaoru. It turns out that he feels the same way about her ever since they first met. But to stay together, they have to overcome the obstacles poised by her father and a gang leader named Misao Haneshima. When those blew over, they then have to deal with Kaoru's scheming and vindinctive ex-girlfriend, Shuri Osakabe.
By then, Chise's patience is running out, and she's not sure if being with Kaoru is worth all the heartache. For a moment, she seriously considers being with Misao, who had fallen in love with her after the ordeal with her dad. This, of course, drives Kaoru crazy with jealousy and anger.
But in the end, true love prevailed. And Chise and Kaoru lived happily ever after.
The guy gets whisked away by his ex (or by the other woman) an awful lot in these kinds of stories. It is even more infuriating because the guy truly loves the main character and not the ex. But for some annoying reason, he just has to help the ex. Of course, this whole helping thing is just the ex's scheme to get back the guy.
Well, Chise didn't suffer in silence. Hell no. She goes and sleeps with Misao! Serves Kaoru right. And that is why Kiss in the Blue is one of my favorite stories. The heroine isn't just passively reacting to things around her. She goes and does things her way, in hopes that they will make her feel better. Even if they don't.
I also like how the main characters are all flawed but still likeable. Even though Kaoru plotted diabolical things against Chise in the past, I still root for him. Even though Chise offers herself to another guy, I still cheer her on. Even though her brother acts in seriously misguided ways, I still think he's adorable. And even though Misao is this mean and ruthless gang leader, I still think he could give Kaoru a run for his money.
At four volumes, Kiss in the Blue is just the right length. I'm not sure I could stomach any more obstacles that sprout between Chise and Kaoru. I can only take so much before the story spirals downwards into something ridiculous like Fushigi Yuugi. You know, when a hundred and one things pull apart the hero and the heroine and they still struggle to stay together through it all. Sure, it's sweet and all, but it gets old after they are separated for the fiftieth time. It's great that even Chise herself quickly got tired of all the emotional crises.
Don't be like me and get misled by the covers' graphics. The artwork is no different from a typical shoujo manga... there is a lot of eyecandy. Did I mention Misao is hot? Kaoru is quite desirable in his leather pants as well. The plot certainly is distinctive, which makes Kiss in the Blue a great read for those of you who have a weakness for love stories.