Created by: Bisco Kida (@kida_bisco)
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Letterer: Nicole Roderick
Translation: Kei Coffman
WHAT IS IT?
A graphic designer and the photographer he idolizes form a unique bond that leads to romance in this heartwarming new boys’ love title from Yen Press.
Think I Hear The Sunspot meets A Perfect World.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Subaru Miyazawa is a graphic designer with a deep, profound love for all of the places he’s never been able to visit. Tougo Amase is a nighttime nature photographer whose inspiring work fuels Subaru’s desire to see the vast sights he could only ever dream of, especially the open starry skies unmarred by the lights of the city. When a coworker offers Subaru the chance to design a pamphlet for a planetarium exhibit featuring Tougo's photographs and visit the exhibition on opening night, he’s over the moon to have an opportunity to see his favorite photographer’s work up close.
To his great surprise, Tougo himself shows up to the exhibition and a beautiful friendship begins to form between them over their shared love of the expansive, glimmering sky. When Tougo offers to take Subaru along on some of his adventures, Subaru quickly discovers that the world is more accessible than he realized with his new friend by his side. Friendship begins to blossom into romance as the two gaze upon the starry skies above, ushering in a new era of confidence and love for the shy Subaru.
Kida’s beautiful illustration style is an absolute treat. The character designs and backgrounds are light, with soft shading and curved lines that bring the tenderhearted expressions to the forefront. It also allows the prominently featured night sky to pop whenever the budding couple ventures off to stargaze, adding to the sense of wanderlust one feels when reading the manga.
The story is a fairly simplistic contemporary romance that follows the “meet-cute, fall in love, find hardship, happy reunion” formula, but it is done with perfect pacing that allows each season of their story to happen without feeling rushed. It’s a tender, sweet narrative that will bring a tear to your eye and leaving you feeling hopeful at the end.
I absolutely love that the first time we see Subaru in his wheelchair is after a short scene setup and is given its own full page illustration. Framed by Tougo’s photographs and a sense of excitement radiating off of him, it’s a captivating and heartwarming introductory look at our protagonist in full. The soft brush of his cheeks and elation at getting to work with his idol radiates off of the page and it’s a memorable moment that will stick with you for a long time.
The honesty and raw moments that are not only experienced by Subaru, but are shared between him and Tougo, are a beautiful display of living life and falling in love as a disabled individual - especially with an able-bodied partner - and you can tell a lot of research and heart went into the narrative because of how realistic it feels.
A detail I really love is that the volume takes place over several months, and small details like Subaru’s hair and the variety of outfits they wear shows a progression of time that is tangible and draws readers into their journey.
On the inner front cover of the manga, Bisco included a character profile for Subaru and it highlights his disability, his wheelchair design, and the clothing choices he prefers to wear for comfort and mobility, and it’s a lovely way to explain to readers the key points necessary to understanding his character before even diving into the story. Tougo gets his own profile on the inner back cover, too!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Some sensitive topics involving disabilities that can be a bit heavy for some readers. Though it is done with immense care and heavy research seems to have been done to portray Subaru’s disability, and there is a heavy sense of hope and triumph in the story, it may hit a bit too close to home for some people.
As always, please remember that the way we see and talk about disabilities is vastly different from that of other cultures, so readers must go into As We Gazed at the Starry Sky with an understanding that some of the language and actions portrayed may be different than what we’re used to.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This delightful new BL manga releases on August 22nd and I am elated that it’s only the first volume because I desperately need more! I immediately fell in love with Subaru and Tougo’s relationship and the almost quiet nature of their romance. Set against beautiful backdrops of starry expanses and a rising sense of adventure, After We Gazed at the Starry Sky is a delightfully sweet romance that takes its time and allows its lovers to grow and change with the seasons of their story.
The disability rep in this title is heartwarming and honest, showcasing both the challenges and tender moments that come from life and love between a disabled and able-bodied individual. It is immensely sweet and raw in its portrayal of how the world and its experiences can look and feel for a variety of people, and the stunning landscapes shown not only through the manga itself but the artistic eyes of both men makes this a breathtaking comfort title I can't wait to visit again and again. Make sure you pick up a copy of After We Gazed at the Starry Sky when it releases next week!
HOW DO I READ IT?
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