Comic Books Magazine

Manga Review: Maple Leaves

Posted on the 07 August 2013 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Maple LeavesTitle: Maple Leaves
Genre: Drama, Romance, Josei
Artist: Rin Ogata
Publisher: Digital Manga
A review copy was provided by Digital Manga.

Maple Leaves is collection of short stories about, well, sad men.

More specifically, Maple Leaves deals with men and “bittersweet love”: one man marries his wife for revenge against his mentor, another man hunts for the woman he left behind, while yet another man tries to find the woman he sees only in his dreams. Were these “sorrowful” love stories enough to turn my heart?

The result is a bit of a mixed bag, but, regrettably, mostly forgettable. The first story deals with a recently widowed woman named Yoshino who is troubled by the realization that her distant and borderline abusive artist husband may have never loved her. This realization gets driven home when her husband leaves a million dollars to his model muse, who was rumored to be his lover. Worse still is that her husband’s suicide may have been anything but. Despite all the drama, it’s hard to feel any connection to the characters. At the beginning of the story we’re thrown right into the reading of her husband’s will, with only glimpses of their “romance” (which includes a rape) and their eventual marriage. It’s obvious despite the tumultuous nature of their relationship Yoshino has loved her husband all along, and the end of the story tries to redeem him with a memento he’s left behind.

The second story involves a young man named Chidaki, a famed musician who’s recently overcome a heart condition while living in the shadow of his brother. In his dreams, Chidaki sees the face of a beautiful but sorrowful young woman. When he stumbles across a similar looking woman at an inn he’s determined to have her, but she’s quick to rebuff his advances, admitting that she’s still in love with her ex-husband. Chidaki can’t get through to her, try as he might, until he plays a song on the koto that reminds her of her late husband and ultimately brings things full circle in an unexpected way. Admittedly, this story was bit better than the first and had a twist in the end that I enjoyed.

The third story is set in the Meiji era with our main character Tadaaki forced to leave the woman he loves behind. Poor but in love, Tadaaki leaves his lover with a hairpin in lieu of an engagement ring. Years later and a little richer, Taadashi returns but is unable to locate the woman he’s waited so long for. As he digs a little deeper into his own family history and the time he spent away, Tadaaki is forced to confronted the sad fate of the woman he left behind. This one in particular felt sadder than the rest of the stories; while most had a bittersweet but hopeful ending, this one doesn’t end on quite as hopeful of a note.

The last story unfortunately is the least compelling and worst of the bunch, perhaps because the main romance has nothing to do with the main character. Isurugi is an art curator who has yet to buy into the hype of his gallery’s new piece, “Cherry Blossom Smile.” Against the director’s wishes, Isurugi does a little digging and discovers a “crime of love” and a scandal. Honestly the more and more than “scandal” came to light the less interesting the story became. The idea of a cover up just wasn’t terribly compelling and the reasoning behind it while somewhat moving, was nothing original.

While I always appreciate stories aimed at an older female audience, especially short stories collections focusing on various types of relationships, ultimately Maple Leaves is mostly a forgettable bunch.

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