Hey MoarPowah! Long time no see. Amidst all my Guoventures, I gift to you a short review of my all-time favorite manga, Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (also know as Our Happy Hours). This 8-chapter story is by one of my favorite mangaka, Sahara Mizu (alternate pen name Yumeka Sumomo), whose art and prose is also just top notch.
A side note, but this story is an adaptation of novel by South Korea’s most popular female novelist, Gong Ji-Young. However, I’ve known plenty of adaptations gone bad, and regardless of the original, Yumeka’s adaptation is definitely the opposite of any sort of bad.
Without further ado, itadakimasu~
The premise is pretty dramatic, much like that of a Korean drama, and you know it’s deep shit when you find out the two main characters are a suicidal and murderous, respectively. More specifically, the plot follows a pianist named Juri (who is in a mental ward to ‘recover’ from her third attempted suicide). She is asked by her friend Monica (who is her aunt and a nun) to accompany her on her visit a certain death roll inmate. This inmate, named Yuu, is convicted of three murders and like Juri, constantly attempts to commit suicide while in prison.
At first these main two characters barely relate (they barely talk…) and don’t seem to have any chemistry at all. Juri is only visiting Yuu on account of her aunt’s request, and Yuu seems to reject sympathy in general. However, as both Juri and Yuu’s backgrounds are revealed, in snippets of course, and as they slowly interact more, their bond grows increasingly stronger. Instead of looking to end their lives ever so often, through their bond both protagonists develop a sense of hope and a want to live. The pacing here is perfect (and commendably done since the story is so short), and the narrative is so touching that I, as a reader, wished their time together could last forever.
But obviously every story needs an end, and the end to Juri and Yuu’s story is one that you can easily see coming, although that doesn’t prepare you at all for it when it finally arrives. As I was reading, all I could do was wish in vain for a happy ending, but the happily ever after never comes. And that’s exactly the point.
As you can see, this manga isn’t shoujo, where everything is pink auras, bubbles and sparkles. There are no unicorns in this manga, let alone ones that shit rainbows. This manga conveys the cruelty and unfairness of a harsh and unfortunate reality, and unlike sob stories and death toll statistics that get retold in the news (as real and awful as they are), this story just feels so much more close to home; even though you witness the tragedy unfold before your eyes, you are still unable to stop it.
Pictures courtesy of Storm in Heaven.
Goshisousamadeshita, over and out!