Manga Review: Omoi no Kakera

I seem to be on a romance binge! Guess you could say it shows something in my sub-conscious, but meh I don’t really think like that. Omoi no Kakera is a story about multiple girls who are in love with other girls, and it is really simple like that. Some are trying to find out what their preference is, others know but suffer from past scars, and some feel like their feelings would burden the other. It seems like a generic set-up, but the execution is far better than I thought it would be originally. It tells three separate tales. Mika and her struggles in trying to find someone she can really cherish. Mayu and her friend Saki trying to figure out how to handle their feelings regarding to themselves and other women. Then the shorter tale of Matsumoto, the coffee shop owner, and Yui, the novelist roommate, and how they came to be in their current situation.

The manga title translates to “Fragments of Love” which fits the structure perfectly. These are fragments of their life during a turbulent time. They are handled in a naturally flowing matter as the more important problems are never handled forthright or even handled to the best outcome you can fathom. You have to take these events as they are, because there isn’t much in the way of closure for the audience. That is the subtle beauty of this manga, it doesn’t need a clear cut ending to get all its morals and romantic understandings across to the viewer.

Now what makes this tale of love so enticing is the characters involved and how well they are portrayed. The shorter tale of Mastumoto and Yui leaves both characters with a sense of mystery for the reader. Mastumoto is the bubbly popular one whose charisma brims off the page, while Yui is the more reserved and tortured individual troubled by her past. Through all the pain they have gone through, there is this visible pain of wanting to be together but fine with where they are. The managaka leaves their love up to the reader for how they want to view whether or not this is alright or are they still fragmented by their past. Arguably there are some over the top characters in their story that are too far-fetched and seem to only be used to progress the plot, much like the main antagonist.

Mayu and Saki have problems and they don’t with how they are portrayed. This love feels the most clichéd because of how one of the friends feels. Saki doesn’t want to burden Mayu with her feelings, while Mayu is trying to figure out her sexuality making for a more round about story of love. It goes back and forth, and back and forth, never giving a clear consensus of what will happen in their relationship throughout the story. Will they stay friends or won’t they is only hinted towards, and that is where this generic love tale shines. Saki may have her faults, but she also has her reasons for having these faults as they do address how stupid she is. Mayu is weirdly the better of the two despite being annoying most of the time. She feels more complex as she is trying to search within herself to decide between what she feels and what she was conditioned to think of homosexuality by society. It feels right and wrong to her at the same time, and watching her come to the conclusions she makes is a great journey. The only true setback of this tale is the pacing issues with how roundabout it is throughout the manga.

Mika is by far the best executed character of the bunch and easily is what propels this manga into a better light overall. There is a transformation of her character from the beginning to the end, without a need to fall in love to do it. This transformation is brought on by the people who care about her, and overcoming past scars halting her back from truly falling in love. Her character is the focal point of Mayu and Saki’s tale as well, and is the perfect voice of reason that is both wise and flawed. She is comfortable in her own skin as she is the most open with her sexuality, but hides her feelings which is the opposite of a platonic love. There is this duality to her character that makes her the best in terms of depth and probably one of the best protagonists of a romance story I have seen in a long time. If I had to say one nitpick, it would be in how stagnant and inferior her story feels in comparison to the other two. It needed to take the spotlight and it never seems like it does in the end.

Omoi no Kakera is just a fragment of the time we are with these characters. It doesn’t attempt to solve the problems and leaves a lot of questions unanswered by hinting towards certain paths. This lack of conclusion may be seen as a negative, but it didn’t need a firm conclusion in order to show the transformation of its characters from who they were to where they end up in the end. The focus on finding oneself and to open up to others, is drenched in the tales put forth and make for a splendid read despite hiccups in the supporting cast and progression of some tales. Omoi no Kakera brilliantly uses its characters to promote a strong romantic tale of understanding oneself and the desires you hide inside.

Rating: B+

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