Alright! Sorry about the long wait, but it’s finally here! The first chapter synopsis of Nanaji Nagamu-sensei’s highly anticipated new series, Aruitou! The only bittersweet aspect of doing this review is that Nanaji-sensei suffered a stroke recently so she’ll have to slow down during this process but I’m hoping for a speedy & full recovery. The same happened to Hidaka Banri-sensei recently, where she was throwing up blood! Ughh…It really is amazing that these mangaka are pouring so much effort into their work. They definitely need to get some rest!
Alright, enough of the macabre. This new series is extremely 元気な話。 Meaning, it seems full of life & joy and our heroine, Kuko, is vibrant and vivacious!
The first page color page starts off with a young Kuko bawling her eyes out, with the caption, “Kuko, please smile.” It’s also interesting to note that most of the characters are speaking Kansai-ben, and that includes our heroine, Kuko. We see a guy with short, dark hair in a high school uniform slowly walking up a steep hill lined with houses. He’s sighing and groaning and wondering why he has to walk up this hill and why he’s in “this kinda town.” He looks up and sees an old gramps sauntering ahead of him, all bent over and crooked with old age. He is about to call out to him (probably to help him walk up the hill), when all of a sudden a “thing” from up above falls and lands right in front of the gramps…And it’s Kuko! She was up on a tree above to take pictures with her cell phone and the grandpa scolds her and tells her to not do things that’ll worry her dad. Kuko flashes a wide, toothy smile and just laughs. She tightens her ponytail and crouches down and tells the grandpa to get on her back, she’ll carry him the rest of the way. The grandpa just says, “Lucky me! <3” LOL. Kuko looks back momentarily and sees that the guy in the high school uniform was there, watching the fiasco the entire time. She thinks to herself that she hasn’t seen him before and that he may be on a school field trip. Either way, she banishes him from her thought and she sprints up the hill with the grandpa on her back! Witnessing this crazy physical feat, the guy says, “Wow, just up this hill like that…She’s an animal!”
Kuko is still rushing up the hill…She passes by another guy (dark, longer hair with a calm & cool presence) who’s holding a sketchbook. He tries to say hi to her but she’s only focused on running up the hill! The guy with the sketchbook laughs to himself.
Then, Kuko runs by the third guy, who is known as Kiyo, one with light hair and a very genki-look. He tries to talk to her and she yells out, “Later! If I stop now I’ll die!” Kiyo laughs as he watches her speed on by.
Kuko thinks to herself, ‘Strong…Cheerful…Sturdy…I’m growing up this way, Mom…In this town.’
So now we have our brief introduction to Kuko and the three main “love interests”!
It’s night now and Kuko is sitting on the windowsill of her room and she just updated her blog through her cell phone. Kiyo (the light-haired, genki one) looks up at her from his window (I suppose they are neighbors) and asks her if she’s updating her “no-one-understands blog.” (The Japanese term used is 謎ブログ.) She laughs it off and asks him what he was about to tell her earlier today. He busts out two tickets to the his school festival and asks Kuko to go with him. She pouts and says that since Kiyo is going to a coed school, why would he bring an older girl? She’ll just get glared at by other girls. He laughs at that and says that they won’t do that…Kuko then says that only his way of talking is grown up, and of course Kiyo throws a mini fit that she says that. Kuko then says if she goes and gets glowered at, she’ll just glower right back! Kiyo becomes serious all of a sudden and says to her, “Kuko, you can’t do that (more figuratively, “The Kuko I know won’t do that”).” He blushes a bit and tells her to go to the festival with him regardless. Kuko just smiles.
Kuko reminisces a bit and points out that Kiyo has brownish hair and slightly grayish eyes. He has some foreign blood mixed in him and he’s been Kuko’s friend since childhood. She gives in and tells Kiyo that yes, she’ll go to the festival because he seems so enthusiastic about it and she wants to see him happy. This makes Kiyo sweat & blush at the same time.
As Kiyo is handing the ticket to Kuko, her dad appears all of a sudden and tells Kuko to come back in (she moved from her windowsill to a nearby tree branch when she was talking to Kiyo!). Kuko comes back in and tells Kiyo to stop reading porno magazines and go to sleep soon. Kiyo gets flustered and yells that he does no such thing! As Kuko says bye and goes back in, her dad takes a quick look at Kiyo and smirks and says, “Fight!” (Meaning, “do your best!”)
Now Kuko is in the kitchen washing dishes when the dad says that he’ll have to go to the shop again tonight to work. The dad all of a sudden goes into crazed lecture-mode and tells her to make sure she doesn’t open the door when the doorbell rings and also if some man forces his way in then she should make the most shocking “ugly face” she can. Kuko makes the -__- look and asks him if that’ll have any results…And the dad says to him, it does.
She laughs and splashes some water on him and tells him that she’ll be fine.
Kuko gets back to her room and takes the rubber band out of her hair, letting it loose. She looks forlorn and a bit remiss for the first time and remembers that she has to stay strong.
It’s morning now and Kuko got all her energy back! She ties up her hair in a ponytail and is ready to start a new day, bright & fresh. Her dad is still half-asleep and asks her why she’s up so early on a Saturday. Kuko says she’s just wide awake now and she’ll go for a walk around the neighborhood.
As she’s walking around, various townspeople chat with her, asking her about her dad, asking her if she wants some of the oden they made last night, etc. It’s obvious that Kuko and her dad are well-liked by the neighbors. Then Kuko sees a cat named Shiromi on the ledge of a roof (not sure who’s cat this is) and as she’s climbing the electricity pole to get a closer look at Shiromi to take a picture, one of the guys from before (the one with the longer dark hair with the sketchbook) shows up.
Kuko smiles widely and calls out to him, “Ou-chan!” He smiles as he sees her on the electrical pole and says, “Again?” Kuko is about to come down when she slips and falls flat on her butt! Ou-chan has his hand outreached and a bit dumbfounded, he says, “Sorry, I couldn’t reach you.” She laughs it off and tells him not to apologize. Ou-chan is working in an art studio and is a college student majoring in art. She thinks, for some reason, that he’s just different. Ou-chan reaches over to help her up and she says, “I’m alright, I’m alright!” And proceeds to get up by herself when the shock from the fall hits her and she realizes that she is, indeed, in pain. He smiles has her get on his back so he can carry her. He smiles gently and says to her, “Because I can’t neglect someone who says she’s alright.” Kuko blushes and looks flustered.
As the chapter comes to a close, the background captions read, “Every day life is made of ordinary events. Me, at 16, will start to experience pain from here on.”
And that’s it for the first chapter! A bit odd since the chapter started out so bright & sparkling and then bits of darkness seeped in with the situation with Kuko’s mom (died? No one knows at this point) and also why Kuko is trying to be a bright & strong girl. And the final message in the chapter is ominous since it implies that she’ll have some hard days ahead of her from now on! How will the three men in her life all work together? It seems that Kuko has a crush on Ou-chan, but I do have a feeling that she’ll get with either the guy with the dark, short-hair, or possibly the childhood friend, Kiyo (but I am putting my money on the dark short-hair!). Ou-chan is pretty hawt, but I just don’t know about romantic prospects for him and Kuko.
Well that’s it! I will see if I can also grab the next issue of Margaret, but as Nanaji Nagamu-sensei mentioned, it will be a paltry offering and I’m not sure when she’ll fully recover. Let’s wish for a speedy recovery!