Hello all! Quick introduction. Over the past couple months I have been borrowing manga from my friends and reading even more amazing stories. To repay my friends, I’m also lending them some series from my collection which is allowing me to re-experience some of the manga that shaped my childhood. So, I’m starting a new blog series! Now I will have my Love Letters, shout outs to the characters that inspire me, and my new Reread Diary, posts recording my new adult thoughts on series I read over ten years ago. I’m really looking forward to this journey. Maybe I’ll inspire you to pick up something new…or well, old. Let’s begin!
I originally read Full Moon wo Sagashite in 2009 thanks to the recommendation of a shoujo loving friend. Before meeting my still-best friend Patty, I was always a shonen girl— raised on exciting battles, bonds of comradery, and blood-pumping action of Naruto, Bleach, Gurren Lagann, and Rurouni Kenshin (praise be his name). Patty brought me into a different world, the flowery, rose-tinted world of shoujo love and loss. Thanks to her, I opened myself up to a new avenue of manga. Hello, Fruits Basket. Nice to see you, Lovely Complex. You’re looking great today, Toradora. Full Moon wo Sagashite is one of those series and, at the time, was incredibly different from anything I had ever read. It was a crazy ride and, you guessed it, still is.
Full Moon is covered in tropes, but it also handles difficult themes in a way that is incredibly respectful to its audience. That is something to be celebrated.
This Arina Tanemura manga follows the story of Koyama Mitsuki, a twelve-year-old slowly dying of sarcoma tumors in her throat. She is passionate about singing and dreams of becoming a famous pop star in order to be reunited with her childhood love Eiichi. One day, two Shinigami (from the pediatric division, of course) tell her she only has one year to live and, inspired by Mitsuki vigor for music, agree to help her achieve her dream before they take her soul. It is a story filled with love hexagons, idealistic depictions of the music industry, and the rewards that come with following one’s passion.
But that’s not all. It does not pull its punches when it dives into its deeper themes of death, suicide, grief, and isolation.
This aspect of the manga is sticking out to me now more than ever. One reason is probably because I already know the story so I understand the manga's foreshadowing . But I’m also older now; when I originally read this story I did not have anyone close to me who died. Now, unfortunately, I have. It is allowing me to connect to the story in a different way. The desire for a reunion after death, for a chance to make peace or send a message to the deceased, the deep regret felt when someone dies and you feel you let them down. All of this is potent in Full Moon and, now more than ever, it’s electrifying for me.
As an adult reading this romance story for tweens, I’m surprised by how well Tanemura presents these crushing themes, especially in a way that is digestible for a young audience. Again, this show does not pull its punches: when someone commits suicide, you see wrists bleed; when someone walks out in front of a train, they get hit by the train. Even through its glittering shoujo lens, Full Moon does not sugarcoat what it is trying to say. This realism keeps the series grounded, even at its most fanciful moments. It’s refreshing to see for a manga directed at young girls. Of course, the power of love, friendship, and passion prevails, but it raises its characters up from the lowest of possible human lows. I commend Tanemura for making this series something more than just a love story; its tragedy brings it to great heights.
And for some reason, I’m still deeply in love with Takuto. Sitting in a Starbucks the other day, it was physically difficult for me not to squeal or kiss a page with his face on it. Nothing can beat a childhood crush, can it? Without going into spoilers, I can say that I am both happy and disappointed with the story’s treatment of my favorite cat-eared shinigami. His story is a little too similar and intertwined with Mitsuki’s to be believable, but he has some of the most powerful scenes in the series. One of his best quotes was my senior graduation quote from high school: “Sometimes it is okay to worry. Being a person without worries or regrets would be boring.”
Also, side note, the story is paced extremely well. It never feels stagnant or infested with filler material; Tanemura keeps her series tightly bound and effervescent with important plot developments and character moments. In an age where series run for fifty to eighty volumes, this seven volume venture is a perfect fit for the story Mitsuki and co. were created to tell.
Full Moon wo Sagashite is dripping with clichés, but still manages to have a powerful message. I think I would be invested in the story if this was my first time reading it, even at my age. It is a modern fairytale fueled by a refreshing sense of heartbreak and redemption. It is a series I can proudly display on my shelf.
*Something to note, the anime is vastly different from the manga. I cannot speak for the anime and honestly do not want to. I hear it isn’t as good*