Sakura, Saku Vols 1 and 2

Sakkura, Saku Volumes 1 and 2 by Io Sakisaka

I feel like Io Sakisaka is a great go-to author for heartfelt shoujo stories that reaffirm one’s faith in humanity and young love. Sakura, Saku might not be terribly surprising, but it delivers all the feels that one would want from a shoujo romance. Saku Fujigaya was rescued on a train when she was feeling faint by a mysterious stranger, and she is so inspired by this kindly act that she decides to devote herself to helping others. She rescues dropped train passes, shares umbrellas, carries extra pencils in case someone needs to borrow one, and takes on extra chores at school. When people comment on her being a “goody-two-shoes” she is delighted that she is succeeding in her new life mission.

Sakura, Saku

One of Saku’s biggest regrets is that she wasn’t able to thank her rescuer. She had a note with his name on it, but when she tried to contact him she wasn’t able to locate him. She’s surprised when she hears a familiar last name – Sakura. Her classmate Haruki Sakura’s older brother is potentially her original rescuer who changed the direction of her life. She asks Haruki to deliver a letter to his brother for her, and he immediately refuses. As they cross paths more often he begins to see that she’s not the typical girl that tries to go through him to confess to his brother, and Saku begins to form more ties with her classmates.

Saku’s tendency to throw herself into helping people, and Haruki’s somewhat diffident but forthright personality make them unusual allies in navigating the emotional currents of high school even while they try to figure out their own feelings for each other. Saku’s habit of contemplating Haruki’s shoulders at inopportune times is a great example of the awkwardness that comes with a first crush. Sakisaka’s art is attractive and expressive, and the while first couple of volumes so far step through some typical plot points and situations, the characters are engaging and it fills a niche for anyone wanting some relatively angst-free contemporary shoujo.

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