And! It's Review Rednesday! So get ready for our review of the third and final volume of Love in Focus! Spoilers ahead!
I've been hoping to one day write a review of Love in Focus that wasn't, like, a whole month after we did the translation. I'm not sure if we succeeded, but I think we just did the final read-through...on Monday? And today is Wednesday...so things might be a little bit more fresh in our minds, but it's been such an eventful week, I'm not sure.
Anyway, this volume was special because! we took it to Disneyland Office...which is not special in and of itself, but! not only did we finish the first draft of it while we were at Disneyland, we finished it after doing an entire first draft for Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight! Tadah! Two first drafts in one day! ...Well, it was exciting for us, anyway. Then Stroke of Midnight took longer than we'd hoped to edit, so we felt like all our getting-ahead-of-schedule was wasted. But then this edit went faster than expected! So maybe it balanced out. And I'm not sure if this is relevant to anything, but I did want to say that we translated the whole thing while sitting in the Red Rose Taverne.
Now as for the story, it starts with Kei suggesting that he and Mako start dating as kind of a trial period sort of thing, and she seems to think that's deeply wrong, and we're like, "No, I think it's totally a thing." Maybe blind dates aren't as much of a thing in Japan. But a few dates are not equivalent to a marriage proposal, so come on, see how you like it. I'm glad that Nene was able to come along and say, no, yeah, it's totally a thing. But we also understand that the real reason Mako seemed to think there was something unethical about it is that she had feelings for Mitsuru that she hadn't figured out yet, so in her case, it makes sense.
Kei, meanwhile, realizes that he's being a total jerk about it, but he's going to try anyway because he's desperate. And of course he has to go tell Mitsuru about it, because Mitsuru is the competition. I kind of really liked it when Mitsuru walked off after saying, "Look, I'm not going to take her from you, okay?" and Kei was like, "But he still won't say he doesn't like her." I'm not sure exactly why; I just do. But I will say that we're not sure about Mitsuru's line, because we wanted to make it sound like he wasn't treating Mako like an object. It gets tricky in love triangle situations like this, because a boyfriend and girlfriend do technically belong to each other in a sense, and that doesn't make them objects, but...language is hard, is what I'm saying.
Anyway, now that they're officially a couple, Kei and Mako have to go on a date, obviously. I feel like Mako's choice of a cemetery would come across as completely bizarre and macabre in any other series, but the way Yoko Nogiri does things, it really just felt very natural. It may also be that, when they're well maintained, graveyards aren't really as inherently creepy as they seem. So it's really just a nice place with a bunch of little monuments. We did do a tiny bit of research, since Mako said it was a famous tourist attraction, to find out where it was, and we discovered that there's a Foreigners Cemetery (forgot the official name) in Hakodate, which is I guess where they buried a lot of non-Japanese people way back when. We didn't do a whole heck of a lot of research, because it wasn't relevant to the story, and we were only sort of able to confirm that it was the right cemetery. Add to that that we didn't really find anything else to write a note about, so we didn't want to have one sad, lonely note all by itself, and we figured, "Well, people know the series takes place in Hakodate. They can look it up."
On returning home from their first date, Kei and Mako see Mitsuru, standing on the stairs like a statue. He has just received a letter! A shocking letter! A letter of apology!!! Dun dun DUN!!!!
Okay, I'm not trying to belittle Mitsuru's pain, I promise. I just started typing, and that's where it went. Readers of the series will remember that Mitsuru had a stalker. I think it was in volume two where they pointed out it was just one, specific stalker, and we were like, "Did we get that right in volume one?" Well, anyway, she has come back into the picture, and even though it was a letter of apology, Mitsuru is still stunned, and very understandably so. We've had people who have wronged us in ways that affected us very deeply, and when they've contacted us out of the blue, we were like, "What are you really after." too. And in Mitsuru's case, he was a lot younger when it all went down, and it was super creepy and stuff. It's only the thing that's been casting a pall of doom over his entire high school career. But now she wants to apologize, and it seems legit, because it came through a lawyer and was screened by his parents and everything. But the problem is, she wants to apologize in person, and now Mitsuru is faced with the choice of whether or not to confront the symbol of all his greatest fears.
Kei was all, "Don't do it, she doesn't deserve it." But Mako was like, "Well, since she is the reason you've been having so many issues, maybe you should see if you can get some closure." So he did, and he realized his greatest fear wasn't so fearsome and there you have it. I think the main thing I wanted to see that I didn't see is the woman saying she's been seeing a therapist. Because dang, that woman had issues. But she's regained her composure now, and she realizes she was way out of line, and now she's making amends, which is actually pretty admirable. It's hard to apologize to someone after so much time, and she went all the way to Hokkaido to do it. I also feel like it's kind of typical Nogiri, because nobody in this series is really as bad as they seem.
So Mitsuru stops hiding his face and everyone can see how gorgeous he is, and Mako realizes the reason she can't fall in love with Kei is that she's in love with Mitsuru, and Kei notices all this going on, so he goes to confront his own fears, and once again we learn that his Big Bad Dad was only trying to help him because nobody knew how to communicate properly. I must say, I love a series that tells people to communicate.
Finally, Mako officially breaks up with Kei, and then she and Mitsuru find out they love each other, and it was so cute! Mako's like, "I can't date Kei because I love you." and he's like, "Wait, why?" And this is the most important part! They both had things about them that made them insecure, but they were able to see each other for who they really were, and see that the things that each of them was insecure about might actually be positives. I don't think that's to say that if someone has a legitimately bad habit that all they need to do is find someone who thinks it's cute, but I think we all have things about us that aren't so bad, but that we worry other people will hate about us. And maybe people do hate those things, but if they're not really bad things, then it's nice to find the people who will accept those things.
The other important thing about this series is that in the end, Mako looks back at all the mistakes she made and says that she wishes she could live life without making mistakes, but she's pretty sure that's impossible. I think this is super important to remember. Nobody's perfect, and that doesn't mean we should give up on trying to do things right, but that we shouldn't beat up on ourselves or others for taking a wrong step. Especially because the Atonement has already fixed all the mistakes.
So Mako and Mitsuru have changed each other for the better, and they're a happy couple, the end! Kei decides to wait for feelings to change, and I think it's interesting that he points out that maybe Mako's feelings will be the ones to change. I mean, hope springs eternal, right? But also, they're high school kids. It's totally a legitimate hope. For now, anyway.
And finally! in the bonus manga at the end, we learn that *oh gasp I am so so surprised*, the photographer who took the picture that first told Mako about Mitsuru's modeling career was Mako's own grandfather. Because just like in That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!, the leads had to have some kind of past connection. But it was cute.
And the very cutest was under the slipcover, when Kei was sitting there being so sad, and then Omochi comes along to comfort him. Animals are the best.
And there you have it. It was another brief but super cute series. It gave us a little bit of trouble when we were crunched for time (as we almost always have been), but overall, we enjoyed it, and we hope you did, too!
Awwwww, what a nice series. I do like Yoko Nogiri's work; it's just so kind and gentle. And sometimes you need a break from all the hard-hitting drama.
I don't think we have any new releases this week...in fact, our future release date list is getting pretty sparse. I guess that's fair, as an indicator that our workload has mercifully lightened, but it is kind of a bummer looking at Kodansha's new releases for August and seeing a bunch of stuff we had nothing to do with. Ah well, I guess we can't translate everything.
Anyway, tune in next week for our review of Waiting for Spring 11!
Today I'm thankful for finishing our work quota early again, having plans to see a play tonight!, Page being super cute in her cat bed, getting to look back fondly on another Yoko Nogiri series, and our internet troubles not affecting Netflix too much.