I happened to stumble upon this manga, Bonnouji, a month ago. I don’t remember how. I thought I’d try it, started reading it, and liked it.
Here’s MAL’s synopsis of it:
Fate brings two people who live in the same condo together on a typical afternoon. Ozawa (26) has just broken up with her boyfriend of five years and was in the process of trying to rebuild her life when she meets Oyamada who lives a couple floors below her. He is somewhat of a loner although he does have a few friends and his room is cluttered with all the random stuff that his impulse shopper brother sends him. Ozawa takes an interest with all the things in his room and the two start a friendship that slowly turns into something more.
Let’s get the visuals out of the way first. The characters might look a lot younger than their actual ages for some people. I don’t really feel that way but I can understand it. The drawings are also on the rough side. I kinda like it, but some may not. This manga is often lighthearted, and the art really helps in establishing that feeling. The drawings aren’t too refined. Backgrounds tend to have inconsistent levels of details for no reason concerning the manga itself. Everything feels casual, and in this case I think that’s good.
MAL’s synopsis was a pretty adequate summary of the premise. However, that doesn’t capture what matters in this manga for me. The reasons why this is really worth it lie elsewhere. What really makes this worth it is the relationships and interactions between the characters. And not just between the couple as a couple, but also between the couple just as two people, as well as the rest of the cast. One thing I really like is how organic things feel, and for a sort of romantic comedy, that is rare. It’s often lighthearted even in its more serious parts. Nevertheless, it packs quite a bit of emotional depth because it really shows the characters’ humanity in a lot of ways.
The characters here are presented to feel simple. But simple doesn’t mean shallow. You can have incredibly complicated but ultimately shallow works. There’s no drama to really dig out to the deepest parts of the characters, but through their dialogues and through the lighthearted events, we really get to know them and how they think. The characters feel human.
Ozawa seems to be your average office person in your average office. She’s often stressed about work and complains about other people. She doesn’t really love her job. She’s lazy but responsible enough to not fail at her career. She doesn’t go against society or people. She just fits in.
When she meets Oyamada and discovers Bonnouji, she was heartbroken. Maybe Bonnouji started as just a distraction from the heartbreak. Even so, her interest in it, and the good times she had everytime she visited were genuine. Bonnouji brings out a side to her that she doesn’t show outside. It is the place where she feels liberated from this heavy world. Bonnouji cured her, and more.
Oyamada is freelance. so he doesn’t really to have to interact with society as much as Ozawa. Oyamada’s a pretty open person. He is kind and accepting despite being a bit distanced from people. This is pretty much why Bonnouji is Bonnouji. Ozawa didn’t mind Bonnouji. In fact, she liked it. They both didn’t mind how it is. They are the same at that one important thing.
Eventually, their situation leads to them being a couple. Even though Ozawa had a “normal” relationship before, their relationship feels and is really more innocent than what you’d expect from a couple of their ages. They are clumsy when it comes to what’s normally considered romantic aspects of their relationship. Despite this clumsiness, they act naturally around each other and they long for each other’s company. They’re laid back. They don’t really obsess over the these normal couple things. They do worry about it, and that’s normal, but they realize that they don’t really need force things. They realize they’re not really a normal couple. Normal or not, it shouldn’t matter as long as it works.
This relationship between them is really the charm of this manga for me. It’s genuine and natural. It’s not awfully romantic or special, or unique. It’s just what it is.