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Day for Love Letters

A Perfect Day for Love Letters – Volume One
Written by George Asakura
Grenre: Romance, Drama
Publisher: Del Rey
Retail Price: $10.95
Release Date: June 2005
Pages: 208 b/w
Age Rating: 16+

Five Letters… Five Chances for Love.
1. When a librarian receives a love letter hidden in one of her books, she finds a very unlikely reading partner.
2. The meanest boy at school sends a letter that falls into the wrong hands, compelling him to reveal a side of himself that no one ever expected.
3. A mistreated young girl finds hope in a friend, and the strength to leave her troubled past behind.
4. There’s a single love letter – and its author could be any one of a number of boys. Now the search is on to discover the tender wordsmith’s identity.
5. When a mailman befriends a blind woman who recently lost her companion, he tries to heal her loneliness through love letters.

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REVIEW – Rating: 8/10
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A collection of short stories that more often than not involve disoriented teenagers and other, uninformed youths, A Perfect Day for Love Letters offers readers an exclusive look at the power of the written word. The love letter itself is the protagonist of this manga, in turn influencing the lives of several individuals–mostly of the better. Whether written as a discreet journal entry for the eyes of its author only or whether written for the explicit declaration of one’s love–the love letter is an unmistakably powerful, vehicle of emotion. In George Asakura’s A Perfect Day for Love Letters readers will find that oftentimes love is always on the letter-writer’s mind, while other times, love is far from one’s true reason for writing.

The focus of this manga is love letters; how and why they are written the way they are, and how they influence people in the way that they do. One story involves a high-school girl that works at a library, another story follows a lonely and oft alienated, however curious girl, while yet another considers the plight of a mailman with a very good memory. Each story involves at least one character in the throes of romance, a character simply waiting for someone to make his or her life more complete.

It would be more accurate to call these Romance Letters, seeing as most of the characters in these stories are discovering the intimacy of personal relationships for the first time. A couple of the stories, for example, engage teenage girls that are finding out for the first time that someone likes them. One girl in particular finds that her admirer comes packaged in who is probably the nastiest boy in all of school. When the girl, Ririko, reads the line “…I want to get to know you in your world,” she shivers with excitement, elated at finding her first letter. The story of a library girl finding temporary happiness isn’t in any way remarkable, but it is nevertheless enchanting.

This brings me to what is probably the best aspect of A Perfect Day for Love Letters; the fact that despite the majority of these stories being common or predictable, they are all somewhat charming. Some stories have young women in the key role, others with young men. One story has a traditionally “tough guy” playing the role of auteur to the point where it’s nearly driving him nuts–he writes letters to a classmate he’s never seen, but he’s genuinely fallen for her. There is undeniable proof that romance can make you do some rather strange things when the boy meets the girl for the first time, he instantly complains: “Damn you! Don’t make me do foolish things! It’s embarrassing!” To which the girl only reminds herself of why she was so charmed by his letters in the first place, “What a pure heart he has.” The good thing about anthologies is that it is difficult for any one story to outshine another, for if the anthology as a whole is of good quality, then each individual story of that anthology will be of equal quality.

A fun manga to purchase if you are the type of comic fan who cannot read in bulk (for long periods of time), A Perfect Day for Love Letters is especially a good find for those who definitely like to pace themselves. I say this because of the fact that every single chapter is a self-contained story. It is often more reassuring to read a volume of comics with the knowledge that it is virtually impossible to “lose your place,” rather than trying to remember where you are in a longer, traditional story.

The downside to Asakura’s manga, as well as to anthologies on the whole, is that if you simply aren’t interested in the subject matter the anthology covers, then look elsewhere. If you aren’t interested in teens struggling to find their first love, interested in how best friends may just become first lovers, interested in the emotional plight of a blind woman, or are not interested in love letters at all for that matter, then A Perfect Day for Love Letters won’t be for you, plain and simple. Because every story deals with burgeoning romances (some with drama, but often with little comedy), manga fans looking for highly developed character relationships and thorough story dynamics will not find them here.

George Asakura’s style is very raw and wiry. Characters are skinny and look very anxious, which, when you add in the fact that the majority of these characters are highly emotional, makes for an interaction of personalities that can span a wide range of potentially inconsistent emotions. The composition of Asakura’s work is incredibly complex as well. Rarely will you find pages of A Perfect Day for Love Letters with less than five or six panels, usually inset of one another in a variety of ways (i.e. diagonal, horizontal). It will probably take you some time to get used to the organization of the manga, but once you get the hang of it, the story will come to you a lot easier. The amount of dialogue in the manga depends on the short story–while there may be a lot of dialogue between high school students, there may also be next to nothing mentioned but what is necessary between two strangers, and appropriately so.

A Perfect Day for Love Letters is a good anthology for manga fans of romance. Some of the stories are a little too predictable and are a little too commonplace, but this isn’t a sour point of the manga, because other stories are very high caliber dramas. For a chance at love, many of these characters risk putting their emotions on a sheet of paper with hopes of reaching the hearts of those they adore. As for what happens after the letter is read, however, is anyone’s guess.