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A Perfect Day for Love Letters – Volume Two

Story by George Asakura
(Past Reviews: Manga Volume One)
Genre: Romance, Draa
Publisher: Del Rey
Retail Price: $10.95
Release Date: September 2005
Pages: 300 b/w
Age Rating: 16+

Tales of love…

When Araki finds an old fax machine, he starts corresponding with the only girl who can receive his letters. But there’s a twist! A brother’s dying request: deliver a videotape to his girlfriend… someone his sibling didn’t even know existed. And there will be other secrets. Natsume must attend summer school while her close friend takes an exotic vacation. Oh well, best take his advice and “let the wind blow through you!” With a move to Alaska imminent, a girl vows to win the heart of her secret crush. Will a swimming pool rendezvous dampen her message? Plus bonus stories! Love is in the air… and in the water… and in the mail with these intriguing tales of affection, rejection, miscommunication, and sweet connection!

Extras:

About the author
Honorifics Guide
Translation Notes

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REVIEW – Rating: 9/10
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Asakura’s A Perfect Day for Love Letters is a massive assortment of short stories, each unrelated to the next, about teens and the many ways in which they communicate. Love letters in her short stories are just as difficult to define here as they are in any culture or within any medium. From hand written sketches on scraps of paper to fax-machine mailings, from diaries hidden away beneath backpacks to cellular phone text messages; love letters can take on any form, and may cover any romantic interest. Finding the lover of a deceased family member or hoping to have one final fling before moving to another country, A Perfect Day for Love Letters takes the place of many a teenager’s consciousness, taking on his or her perspective and voice, forty pages at a time.

In the second manga volume, there is a huge stylistic and narrative evolution distinguishable here from the first volume. Even the formal and structural characteristics of A Perfect Day for Love Letters has changed from the first few stories up through what volume two contains. What we have in this release is a massive step-up in storytelling, a welcomed change to the predictable and minimalist approach the previous collection well exhibited. Additionally, much of the relationships of the stories are believable as well, and rarely fall into a cheap categorization of puppy love, or some related matter. Now, instead of just finding favor with just a few of the short stories in this collection, I was interested in almost all of them. Like any collection, it has its ups and downs, but this manga volume takes a much more serious, deeper and genuine approach to personal relationships and communication than it had before. A Perfect Day for Love Letters displays, more accurately here, the complexity of youthful romantics.

I’ll only mention one story of this volume here, “Metal Moon,” seeing as it is the most obscure. This piece has only two letters in it at all (as comparable to the dozens and dozens of letters in other stories), and between these two letters–and as a result filling up the rest of the manga–is a somber but relatable tale of bitter teen angst and determination. The girl, Zeze, is very social yet rarely confides in others her fear of never truly comprehending the way people think. The boy, Kaneko, is very social as well, yet rarely grants himself the opportunity to actually get to know and understand people (more specific, girls) before he makes his mind up about them. And so, we invariably have a girl who doesn’t yet care for inter-emotional connections and a boy who cannot yet care for inter-emotional relationships.

Zeze first sends Kaneko a letter inside the case of a CD she lent him. The CD is of a band whose music, interestingly enough, is just a bunch of noise and clatter that she herself admits, just doesn’t make much sense. The letter confesses to Kaneko and confides with him that Zeze has always felt sorry for the young man for always being turned down by other women. The letter further goes on to detail that although quick to laugh at Kaneko’s poor luck with girls, Zeze has eventually come to believe that he is really, truly hurt in being turned down so many times. Kaneko, an isolated individual when it comes to finding someone to spend his most intimate thoughts with, is excited at the thought of someone caring about how he feels for a change.

This particular short story is fun to read because throughout the entire piece, Kaneko is beating himself up on the inside, attempting to interpret the letter and attempting to write a letter back to the girl. Kanko was instructed by the first letter’s closing remarks to “act normal” at school the days following the letter; and as such, while he continues to converse with Zeze, he’s having trouble interpreting her mannerisms and opinions. Is she really acting completely different than her letter? Was the letter about her admiring him all a lie? Kaneko, as a result, begins to quietly obsess over the girl, falling in love with the ideal he has of her, at one point commenting internally to Zesze: “If you’re passionate like you wrote in your letter you could win me over very easily.”

What eventually happens between these two I won’t spoil, but the story comes together nicely in the end, and truly marks the honest progression of an experience comic artist. This manga volume addresses more serious and critical aspects or inquiries we all have about love (unrequited or unreturned), and takes a slow and methodical approach to each and every one of them.

Graphically, the second volume of A Perfect Day for Love Letters has oodles and oodles more detail and production design than the first volume. The first volume was filled with wiry characters with very little quality background artwork; but the second volume bumps up the quantity and quality, ultimately enhancing the reading experience. This occurs through a far better managed usage of gradients, better and diverse character designs, more ethically involved storylines (involving physical abuse, lying, abandonment, &c), and an even more diverse panel organization than before. Not all of the stories (if any of them) deal with star-crossed lovers, and not all of the stories end with a cute and satisfying conclusion.

This manga is satisfying on a number of levels, but only insofar as one can be satisfied with reading about teenagers and budding interpersonal relationships. The second manga volume is superior to the first in almost every fashion, enhancing every piece of drama, social adventure, and humor–save for the comic’s overall sentimentality. A Perfect Day for Love Letters can be purchased just as a second manga volume, ignoring the first given that it’s a discontinuous collection of short stories, so even if you’re interested in this volume in particular, purchasing the first (although recommended), isn’t necessary. (Plus, there are 300 pages in this graphic novel release.)