What A Girl Wants: Should You Be Reading ‘Momokuri’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
There are a lot of easily-available manga about boys lusting after girls, so it's a blessed relief to find a translated import that centers a teenage dating story on the desire a girl has for a boy. It's reciprocal! But Momokuri lives and dies on its evocation of fifteen year old Kurihara's pre-sexual desire for Momotsuki. These kids are too shy to hold hands or get close enough to take a selfie; the point is, that doesn't negate any of their, or her, yearning.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Kurihara is in her second year of Japanese high school, and has a crushing crush on Momotsuki in the year below. She works up the courage to confess her like and ask him out: from here, their ferociously tentative romance begins.
Kurihara's active role in waiting for him between classes, making the first move, and arranging things like tutoring sessions for his friends so that they can spend time together is carefully shown to be motivated by a) her essential niceness and b) her basic, atom-level lust for him. Momotsuki isn't only younger than her, he's also short and adorable. His feelings of social submission interact very gently with the tougher roles he's obliged to consider as a boy.
Low-key social requirement and personal lack of confidence are all the conflict that's needed to make Momokuri an emotional success. Our protagonist couple are two sweet kids completely unready for sex; it's the effectively goalless determination behind their physically distanced awkwardness that provide the tension and reliability in a romance that's less about arousal and ogling (although these certainly feature) than it is some formless ideal of self-giving, or intimacy.
WHO’S IT BY?
Kurose --- a mystery! Originally a webcomic on Comico --- that's this Comico, not the North American Comico of Robotech, etc --- and put together in volumes for English-language release, there's not too much information about Kurose available to non-Japanese readers. This is their only title listed on their Comico author page, so it may be that we're seeing a debut in action. Get on the train while it's not yet far from the station!
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The most obvious draw of Momokuri is that it's in full colour. Uninhibited by paper printing requirements, Momokuri is digitally painted and digitally published. So who needs the limit to greyscale? The palette is marshmallowy, sweet and enveloping to match its subject matter, with gentle shadowing and no true black outside of the lettering. The linework is done in dark brown, and even speech bubbles are coloured and texturised.
Lettering, while indeed sometimes black, also appears in dark red, dark blue, purple --- making the page prettier, and adding some tone to the speech and the circumstance. Whether this is Lauren Clay's choice in her work on the translated volume, or an original Kurose conceit, it works.
But the stand-out feature to many will be the free reign and internal expanse given to Kurihara's forming, validated, teenage sexuality.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Anybody who ever had a crush...!
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Momokuri is being serialized in English on Crunchyroll.