Monday, May 26, 2014

Cherry Juice by Haruka Fukushima

Title: Cherry Juice 
Author: Haruka Fukushima
Volumes: 4 (completed)
Volumes (English): 4 (completed)

After five awkward years, stepsiblings Minami and Otome are finally getting along, even giving each other romantic advice. However, when Minamis best friend confesses his love for Otome, suddenly the siblings peaceful relationship takes an unpredictable turn, making them wonder with whom they are in love.

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Skip to the bottom for final thoughts.

I liked the concept of this series, which explores the familial bond between step-siblings. The premise of the series is that Otome and Minami are step-siblings who basically love each other in a romantic way. While Minami has always felt this way about Otome, she's never really questioned her own feelings towards him. The four volumes focuses primarily on Otome as she fully becomes self-aware of her feelings for Minami. There is also some focus on Minami as he tries to deal with his apparently one-sided feelings for Otome.

The series had an opportunity to delve into an area that I think society ignores. Just because your mother or father remarries doesn't necessarily mean that the feelings you'll have for a step-sibling are platonic. In many cultures it's taboo to date a step-anything. Coming from a family where my father married multiple times each time acquiring new stepchildren (only to cut out from his life the stepchildren of marriages that didn't work out), I could relate to the awkwardness of multiple families coming together and the oddity of acquiring new stepsisters and stepbrothers.

Instead of exploring this issue in a manor even approaching mature, this series is a haphazard collection of loosely related events that alternates between melodrama and comedy (or what passes as comedy). There's barely a plot and the character development is nonexistent. Supporting characters are either telling the siblings to hook up or shaming them for their feelings. The weird thing is, it's the same characters doing this seesaw commentary. There is very little consistency.

It's hard to feel for Otome or Minami, and the supporting characters really aren't developed enough to feel one way or the other about them. I hated Otome's boyfriend, Amane, who acts possessive and childish in his dealings with Otome. Of course Minami pretty much acts the same way, so it was hard to care about which guy she ends up with. I suppose I rooted more for Minami, but I think that's just because he actually has some character development.

Final Thoughts

I found it hard to relate to any of the characters. There is very little character development and only the two main characters, Otome and Minami, have even a modicum of depth. The story itself has little substance and it doesn't even try to handle a complex subject in a serious way. Overall, I think this series is a missed opportunity. It had potential to explore an area that is ignored in mainstream media. Instead it treated the subject as one big joke.

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