Among Kodansha’s latest romcom series, there’s one title that’s a little weirder than the rest: Maki Miyoshi At night for just the two of us. The manga stars Miyako, a quiet high school student who is often overlooked by her classmates. Late one night, while relaxing by a river, she meets her popular classmate, Koga. However, he claims not to be Koga but an alien occupying the same body and taking control while Koga sleeps. How does the series deal with this bizarre premise and make for a promising romance?
The subject of Miyako’s forgetfulness is broached quickly and humorously as several classmates address her in a row…each with a different name, and none of them are correct. Additionally, Miyoshi makes a wise decision on how to reveal the real name. Shy as she is, Miyako never bothers to correct others, and she does not reveal her name in her narration (because realistically she would have no reason to be in her own mind). As a result, the reader shares Miyako’s surprise when another character calls her by her real name for the first time.
This character? Koga, or rather the alien who possesses him, whom Miyako nicknames Chiro. Effectively distinguishing between identical characters is a difficult task, but Miyoshi pulls it off. It’s not just the way Koga and Chiro speak that convey what’s what; their body language and facial expressions are equally important. Although they share exactly the same features, the contortions of their mouths and the intensity of their eyes are vastly different due to their contrasting temperaments. Even on the rare occasions when Koga smiles or shows joy, it’s a sadistic twinkle that sets him apart from his more cheerful, innocent alien counterpart.
Unfortunately, the art isn’t particularly noteworthy otherwise. It’s by no means bad; The events are clear and easy to follow throughout, and there’s good visual comedy. Other than that, there just isn’t much in the way of unique style or impressive physical details. The world as a whole lacks texture and the sense of depth is so-so, resulting in characters that don’t seem fully immersed in their surroundings. Aspects such as this, along with the ineffective use of halftone tones, give the impression of an artist who has a solid foundation but lacks the experience needed to fully develop and refine one’s idiosyncrasies.
All of this is largely forgivable, however, given the charming handling of the premise. The early establishment of Miyako’s solitary status makes Chiro’s disruption of her status quo seem all the more impactful. As two socially inept but kind people, they develop a friendship that forces Miyako to grow and find herself in social situations (and thus conflict) that she never would have otherwise. These serious moments are some of the book’s most enjoyable, and there are also great depictions of how awkward and further isolating attempts at socialization can sometimes be for shy people.
All in all, At night for just the two of us starts well. The protagonist is likable and well-written, and the premise actively forces her into new, difficult social situations. The dichotomy between Chiro and Koga is evident in their drastically different personalities and the way they carry themselves, even though they look very similar. On the other hand, the series’ art lacks a unique point of view as well as the sense of depth necessary to bring the world fully to life. Nonetheless, this is a sweet debut volume that promises even more reading pleasure.
“Night for Just the Two of Us” Vol. 1 Review: A promising alien rom-com
Nighttime for Just Us Two Vol. 1
A charming debut with likeable characters and impressive artistic differentiation between identical characters.
The distinction between Koga and Chiro is impressive
The plot effectively pushes Miyako into situations that stimulate the character’s growth and development
The humor and general seriousness make for an enjoyable read
The world of manga lacks any sense of depth or texture
The art lacks any unique flair or style, and some of the onscreen tones are a bit rudimentary
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