“There are as many forms of love, as there are moments in time.”: A critical analysis of Yamamori’s manga series “Daytime Shooting Star”

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Suzume Yosano has spent the entire 15 years of her life in the countryside, so when her parents decide to move overseas for work and leave her with her uncle in Tokyo, she finds herself in a whole new environment. On the way to her uncle’s house, however, she gets lost and faints.

Waking up safely at her uncle’s house, she learns that a strange man had carried her there and that he happens to be an acquaintance of her uncle. Moreover, when Suzume goes to her new school for the first time, she discovers that the weird man in question, named Satsuki Shishio, is actually her homeroom teacher! Now, Suzume must adapt to her new school and make friends, since her blossoming high school life in the city has just begun!

Myanimelist Synopsis

Daytime Shooting Star is a pretty popular manga written by Yamamori Mika that ended December, 2014. It has been a few months since I reviewed a manga series but when I read this again, I thought about its story and how different it was from other Shoujo manga I have read before.

(Warning: There are spoilers!)

So, what type of romance is this?

The story begins much like any other teenage romance. Our heroine Suzume moves to Tokyo from the countryside to live with her uncle while her parents are overseas. She is not terribly upset by this but a little nervous. Being in an immense city like Tokyo is unnerving, and she gets lost and passes out on a bench from hunger. She meets some weirdo, who turns out to be her uncle’s friend Shishio. Once he carries her home, she goes to school the next day to find he is her homeroom teacher.

Suzume’s teacher, Shishio, is twenty-four or twenty-five, so their age gap is only nine years. Throughout the first 20 chapters, Yamamori subtly sets up their romance. Of course, Suzume does not fall in love with him immediately. It is gradual as he continues to do things for her, make her laugh, push her to find good friends, etc. It does not help that he is tall, handsome, and has adult habits like smoking.

This story arc might seem like a familiar setup for seasoned manga readers.

But it can never be as simple as them falling in love and reveling in their forbidden romance midst stars and sparkly dollies. There is a third character, her classmate Mamura, the first friend she made at her new school. He is the direct contrast to Shishio’s open, friendly personality and dark features. Incredibly withdrawn, ESPECIALLY around girls, he becomes her friend out of force… at first.

But as it happens, she is not as bad as he thought. Before long, annoyance turned to recognition and finally to affection. Because of her forceful personality, he opened himself to new people and grew little by little away from his social problems. Eventually, through a series of dramatic events Suzume asks him why he had kissed her on the cheek, thinking he was messing around with her. He tells her, a little hurt,

Gradually, Suzume and her teacher Shishio become closer, and eventually, they become a couple of sorts. But ONLY in secret. Shishio leaves her alone often, and she cannot become close to him in a healthy setting. She often lies to her uncle about where she is going and never tells him about her relationship. Once, she even got stuck in a hotel overnight with Shishio during a winter storm.

Interestingly, Mamura never pushes himself on Suzume at those times when she is inadvertently forsaken or misunderstood by Shishio. He places himself in a position of comfort until she feels happier.

Mamura confronts Shishio several times about his inability to make Suzume happy and his immature behavior. He even once forcefully asked how Shishio could lead her on, knowing full well the consequences of having that kind of relationship with his student.

Shishio does love Suzume and knows he can’t fully support her because he is her teacher. Even he knows how much he’s hurt her because of their relationship. But he continues to be with her anyway, despite these complications.

Then the inevitable happens. Suzume’s uncle finds out about her relationship with Shishio. Her uncle tells Shishio bluntly the harm he is causing her and how irresponsible he is being. Consequently, Shishio breaks off their relationship and lies to Suzume, telling her he does not love her and that her feelings were not legitimate.

What about her feelings?

One thing I am sure of is that her feelings were not capricious. One should never be ashamed of their love. But rejection is a difficult path. Luckily, Suzume does not revel long in her sadness. Her friends visit, along with Mamura who tells her she needs to come back. Determined to move behind her feelings of grief she agrees and tells her other friends what happened.

I like how Yamamori treats this situation. She does not underplay Suzume’s grief and gives her a friend group she can talk to. I’m also a firm believer we should respect such feelings. No matter the age, the pain is still there and there is growing to be done.

The story then becomes truly interesting. As Suzume becomes closer to Mamura, she starts changing. He invites her to his birthday celebration with his family at a place he knows she will enjoy. He does this knowing she has been having a difficult time.

When they begin their second year in high school, things change even more. Being incredibly popular with high-strung first years, girls start stalking Mamura before, during, and after school. Because Suzume is the only available girl “friend,” her friends suggest Suzume and Mamura pretend to date to get rid of his stalkers. 

They pretend for a while to date until his fans are gone. But in that short time, things shifted between them. Things come to a head when, to thank Suzume properly, Mamura takes her to an aquarium. However, without realizing it, he takes her to the aquarium where she had her first date with Shishio.

At first, she tells him she cannot go in because it is too hard. Then he forces her, telling her that she cannot continue living her life avoiding every thing that reminds her of him. Begrudgingly she agrees and realizes after he leaves her for a while, he was right.

This realization makes Suzume frustrated, especially after Mamura apologizes to her for making her come there. When she asks him why he does all those things for her, he finally tells her it is because he loves her. Shocked, she does not know how to answer him. At first, she leaves and thinks she cannot be with him because her experiences with him are different than those with Shishio.

This is how people and their feelings evolve.

 
But Suzume realizes that they did not need to be the same. Because he’s done so much for her, she wants to face in his direction and bring him happiness. He agrees to date, knowing full well that she isn’t completely sure of her feelings. Something happens then that I find enchanting. The more she tries to make him happy and forgets herself, the more content she becomes. Their relationship is different then her previous one with Shishio. For example, when he holds her hand the first time she reflected,

Sensei’s hands and Mamura’s hands are completely different. The way they hold my hand and their temperature as well is completely  different. Sensei always held my hand tightly. But Mamura he held my hand like he was protecting something fragile.

Quote from manga

Of course, she can never simply realize she loves him even more than she did Shishio. That takes some prodding. Shishio decides to tell her that he loves her, contrary to what he said before. At first she will not listen to him. Instead, she focuses on supporting Mamura, afraid her feelings for Shishio will return.

At one instance, she asks Mamura to go home together. Knowing something is wrong, he tells her to tell him what it is and that he always knows when something is troubling her. (I find this scene interesting because even though he wants to embrace her, he holds himself back afraid it still is not his place to do so.)

After Suzume gets injured, Mamura goes to the infirmary to see her and hears Shishio tell her about his feelings again. Even after Suzume joins him for lunch and invites him on a trip with their other friends he prepares himself for the inevitable. 

Of course the inevitable happens. Shishio goes to the hospital after a small accident and after learning about it, Suzume tells Mamura. Knowing full well in his mind what will happen, Mamura tells her to go to Shishio because he thinks she still loves him. She leaves and meets Shishio in the hospital to discuss her feelings. 

This is where I prepared myself for disappointment. In every other story like this one the girl goes back to the old love and leaves the other behind, sorrowful that thy led them on. 

But it did not happen. She had changed. In the end, she returns to Mamura and tells him she loves him, after honestly telling Shishio she loved someone else. The end. Well. . . It is way more romantic than that but you get the idea. 

Now, why did I go out of my way to write out this incredibly long synopsis of a romance manga? Well, the short answer it made me crazy happy. It went above my expectations. But there are more concrete reasons than that. 

So what is this story’s message?

Firstly, it clearly showed how unhealthy a “forbidden” romance is. Honesty in any relationship is pivotal. In this story, I could not recall one time Suzume was comfortably happy with her teacher, Shishio. Suzume’s uncle’s interception was so important because it set the line between good and harmful relationships. It is possible to fall in love with the wrong person. 

This does not mean Shishio was a bad person or readers should view him as the story’s villain. His feelings had just as much merit as Suzume and Mamura’s. However, he handled his relationship with Suzume wrong. He caused a lot of confusion for her and put himself in a painful position emotionally.

I remember watching the TV show Pretty Little Liars while in college. A similar sort of relationship sparked between one of the girls and her homeroom teacher. No matter what angle I looked at it from, I noticed the negative effect this relationship had on the girl, the teacher, her family, and many around her. No matter how romantic the show’s writers painted it, it had a prevailing sense of wrongness. 

Secondly, this story addressed heartbreak well. Not all relationships are right and we will have our heart broken many times. What was important was Suzume willingly wanted to move beyond her sorrow. She did not dwindle forever in a black hole of despair until he came back to her. 

I liked Mamura as a character. At times he was immature but I noticed how much he grew as the series progressed. I think it was because Suzume’s happiness was foremost in his mind. How many instances did he go out of his way to help her despite his own feelings and insecurities? Many, many times. 

When I first read the series, I shrugged my shoulders and assumed his feelings would not go anywhere, thinking it was a clique forbidden romance story. As it progressed, I supported him more and more and waited anxiously to see if his kindness and sacrifice would be rewarded. Thankfully, it was. 


 

 
The defining difference between Suzume’s relationships between Shishio and Manura was this: when she was with Shishio her focus was almost entirely on having her feelings recognized. It was incredibly self motivating. With Mamura, she strove instead for his happiness. (Here is how she explained it.) 

When I think about sensei, even now it hurts me a lot. But when I think about Mamura my heart always became warmer. If I had properly looked into my heart, the answer would have been easy to find. Even if I am in agonizing pain or even if there is nothing wrong I will unconsciously start running towards you. You being by my side is something that’s completely natural. All this time, I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t know if this was love or not. The me from before didn’t have the confidence to decide. When I cleared my mind of all the hazy and confusing thoughts and looked into my bare heart, more than hurting myself, I found someone I did not wish to hurt at all costs. 

I believe the messages portrayed through this love story are important to consider. Our culture is so steeped in drama, they hardly consider a natural, peaceful and fulfilling relationship to be ideal. I loved following this story and felt reasonably happy at its end. 

I was happy to see a romance based on friendship, kindness, trust and respectability rather than on desire or passion. 

Overall Score: 5/5 

Favorite Quote(s): 

1. Suzume- Mamura, I love you This time I will bring you happiness. So please take care of me. 

2. Mamura- From now on, more than ever, I will cherish you. Please take care of me. 

3. Suzume- The person who taught me the joy of making someone happy was you. When the stars fall into darkness, I will quietly shine for you. During happy times, during sad ties. I will always be there for you. Your hand, your smile, your everything. For as many years to come, I will watch from the place closest to you. My existence will become your daytime shooting star. 

4. Mamura- Properly. I’ll properly think about this. I’m not really good with these things and I don’t know how to say this well, but it’s my intention to put every effort so that she’ll never cry. Also, you’re probably worried about “those” sorts of things. But you really need worry about it. Anyway, I’ll be honest. I’m a guy so those thoughts are there. But right now only half her feelings are directed towards me. But I feel it’s not too late for her to direct 100% of her feelings towards me. Well, for me it’s more than enough the way it is now. If she’s happy, then I am willing to be dragged along. 

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