Starry Sky, the manga adaptation of the popular otome game of the same name, is a bittersweet tale of young love that is simultaneously heartwrenching and saccharine, and while it occasionally dips into stereotypical trope territory, it still manages to conjure those many confusing feelings that younger people associate with falling in love. There's only one caveat: It's just a little difficult identifying with the seemingly perfect heroine who finds herself in a tangle of childhood friends and peers who are all inexplicably deeply in love with her. There's also a little too much going on for newcomers to the genre to identify with.
Tsukiko looks back fondly on her days at the academy as she enjoys a wealth of raucous lunches with her gaggle of classmates, heartfelt discussions with the guys she grew up with, and advances from said men for quite some time at Seigetsu, until a familiar face from her past shows up: Yoh Tomoe, which is foreshadowed when the present-day Tsukiko receives an email from Tomoe, informing her he has returned to France. Yoh is a soft-spoken, eloquent gentleman who shakes up Seigetsu with his declarations of love for Tsukiko, and how aggressive he is about making his feelings known. For Tsukiko's friends and veritable entourage she's gained since attending the academy, he's certainly a target -- even if the main male cast do end up accepting them into their circle. Subsequent chapters explore this theme and more, as Tsukiko looks back upon those seemingly endless days.
While it's pleasant enough getting to know each character (many of them future love interests for Tsukiko) you do get the feeling that you've been shaking hands with far too many guys who don't look different enough from one to the next that it's hard to keep up with who's who -- especially when the biggest qualities that vary between them are visual. Short bangs and no bangs. Yoh's are crossed. He's a redhead too, but how could you tell? The art is gorgeous and dreamy though, with expressive characters and detailed landscapes. It's a real treat for the eyes, especially the pastels on the cover.
In the end, Starry Sky is an airy nugget of nostalgia that lays some interesting groundwork for a story that will at least make readers work hard to guess who it is she'll eventually end up with. It doesn't make an attempt to lessen the cheese surrounding Tsukiko being the only girl at an all-male school and how fantastic she is because of it, or the ridiculous notion that nearly every man she meets is in love with her, but it's a bubbly and youthful look at both the current and past lives of a young woman seeking her first love and all the mishaps that come with it. I'm excited to see where the story goes next, and if Tsukiko will become more than a typical shoujo hero -- and more importantly, who she's ultimately going to end up with.
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