Review: Looking Up at the Half-Moon (Vol 1)

(art by Keiji Yamamoto)
(art by Keiji Yamamoto)

(Note: This site’s central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don’t get English releases.)

Volume 1
Volume 1

Looking up at the Half-Moon by Tsumugu Hashimoto tells the story of a budding romance for two teens in a hospital. The protagonist, Yuuichi Ezaki, has an illness that isn’t serious or permanent, but his prolonged stay at the hospital leaves him incredibly bored, leading to minor hijinks which upset the scary nurse who tends to him. The situation for Rika Akiba, on the other hand, is much less lighthearted. She has a weak heart condition, and is not expected to live long–the same illness took her father’s life, and her extended stay at the hospital has left her friendless.

It’s a good setup for a tender story, and to some degree Half-Moon makes an effort to create some chemistry between the two characters. However, over the course of the story, I never particularly felt attached to either of them, and I think this is largely due to just how little either seem to deviate from basic character archetypes that anime/manga fans will be well familiar with. Yuuichi is a very generic lead, and Rika meanwhile follows the tsundere guidebook by the letter. The few secondary characters Yuuichi interacts don’t fare any better, and the plot in general is too straightforward for its own good.

Much of this may have been easier to accept if the novel ended with any degree of resolution, but ultimately the story doesn’t lead anywhere, as this is the first of an eight-volume series. That said, there are some points of the story I appreciated, such as the level of detail applied to the setting: a small town in Mie prefecture. The main characters have their individual takes on their hometown, which serves well as a metaphor for their circumstances. They hope to leave their dull town one day–to experience a more exciting world in a big city like Tokyo–but they are still teenagers with uncertain futures. In the meantime, they have to find what happiness they can in their current environment amid the lonely mountains and quiet town districts.

This story’s translation isn’t the best, but it suffices for a quick read-through of this fairly short book. I will suggest it to those who are really in the mood for a mellow high school romance, but otherwise it will likely not hold the interest of other readers for very long.

Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended

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