Suzume Yosano, a daydreaming, nature-loving girl in a small country town, is thrown for a loop when her parents suddenly accept a job transfer to Bangladesh (!) and ship her off to live with her Uncle Yukichi in Tokyo. Who wouldn’t be? But Suzume rallies, filling the reader in on her observations about big-city life (she enjoys the excellent food and cell phone reception but feels lonely among crowds) and optimistically opining, “I have a feeling my life is going to shine like a shooting star.” In no time, she has two challenging love interests: Mamura, a cute classmate with a fear of girls, and Shishio, her handsome young homeroom teacher, who dresses like a hipster doofus outside of class and acts like they’re already pals. Each of these potential relationships carries its own set of puzzles and problems to solve, and meanwhile there’s so much else for the new girl in town to do …
Daytime Shooting Star is a gentle story of high school life and self-discovery, following an old shojo manga tradition of easygoing dramedies about an everygirl heroine growing up. It helps that Suzume is such a likable character. With her solemn face and heavy-lidded eyes, she seems to view Tokyo with quiet uncertainty, but as she comes out of her shell she turns out to have a direct, common-sense approach to life that cuts through teenage insecurities and high-school politics. Like Anne of Green Gables, she’s capable of punching out classmates who threaten her well-being, then making up with sunny charm. (Also like Anne of Green Gables, she rocks a first-rate pair of braids.) The charming art, loose and unforced, also helps put this series above the average teen manga. The characters have expressive, individual faces, clear body language, and, when they change out of their school uniforms, funky outfits.
Over the course of the first volume, Suzume makes friends and rivals, joins the volleyball team, struggles to pass her classes, and gets to know the uncle who’s now raising her. Nothing feels urgent, but it’s pleasant to drop in on her, chapter by chapter, and see how she’s getting along. This is the kind of manga that’s less about telling a story than creating a place to visit, and people to meet there.
story and art: Mika Yamamori