Story and Art by Hidenori Hara
Length: 7 volumes
To be honest, I found this manga by complete accident. I was researching another manga, and, due to some unforeseen typing errors, I came across this series. I was enticed by Hara’s classical art style, and so instead of correcting my mistake, I decided to explore my new discovery. I was not disappointed.
Originally published by Young Sunday (2006), The Town the Stars Fall Upon (Hoshi no Furu Machi) follows Koutarou Tsutsumi, a senior high school student who’s overwhelmed by thoughts of the future. Completely burnt out, he moves from his hometown of Tokyo to a remote village in order to see out his final year in high school. Depressed by his situation, an encounter with his new neighbour slowly changes the way he perceives the world, and his future.
This manga starts off a bit slow, and fairly typical for a series in the romance genre. Our protagonist enters a new environment, meets a female love interest almost immediately, and from there, romance begins to bloom. However, as opposed to creating characters for the sole purpose of living out a fantasy relationship, Hara invests a decent chunk of time developing his characters outside of their connections with each other.
Koutarou must deal with multiple, highly relatable issues in order to overcome his self loathing, and ultimately achieve contentedness. Sometimes his introspective moments border on whining, and his angsty tantrums at the beginning of piece did detract from his likability. But as readers, we can map our protagonist’s maturity, and through hard work, and the introduction of likeminded people, he does eventually learn the value of living. It still read better than a predictably overwhelmingly weak protagonist; Koutarou was able to make decisions, even at the expense of other’s feelings, humanising his growth.
Romance is still the dominant theme of this manga. Outside of the two main characters, there aren’t too many others that are adequately developed. I would have liked a few more characters to share experiences with the protagonist, as only remember of characters were given significant airtime. But I also really enjoyed the way in which the relationship was depicted. It truly was a story structured around the obsessive, all-consuming nature of love. Even when the manga is being self-indulgent, you can’t help but enjoy it. Whether it’s based on your current situation or future aspirations, the reader is provided with a wholesome relationship that doesn’t cross the line of idealism (often).
Though I was originally enticed by the art, its simplicity was sometimes taken to the extreme. The art that was present was great – I really enjoy Hara’s style. However, a large portion of background panels are left blank. De-cluttering panels is a great technique to avoid overwhelming the eye, but it felt like it was for no particular purpose on multiple occasions. I couldn’t help but be ejected from the world. Its blankness didn’t convey an unfinished product, but one feeling incomplete. The length of the piece was ideal, long enough to produce character investment, but short enough to avoid repetitive development sequences.
Overall, The Town the Stars Fall Upon was a pleasant surprise, a fun and interesting romance manga that works well within its romance genre tropes, though is still limited by many.
Art – 7
Story – 8
Writing – 7
Overall – 7.5/10