Manga Commentary: Kiss, Vol 1 – 5

Apparently, there are a bunch of manga out there about 16 and 17 year old girls falling in love in with a teacher and having a relationship with that teacher. “Kiss” by Matsumoto Tomo is one such manga. There are 8 volumes to this series, but I could only find 5 online and I have volume 6 and 8 on order from beNippon (I requested volume 7 too. I guess we’ll see what happens). So far this manga seems to be dealing with the situation pretty fairly and seriously. Both the girl and the teacher are anxious about the age difference and the relationship is anything but easy to maintain. Again there is the same internal struggle with the teacher, Goshima, in which he is uncomfortably split between being teacher, father, and lover to the girl, Kae. Kae is clearly struggling with being a child in a grown-up’s world. For me this relationship doesn’t work because Kae and Goshima’s minds are too far apart. Goshima seems to be distance, cold, and emotionally stoppered and Kae is a very needy child who needs to play with kids her own age. They don’t really talk, rather Goshima attempts to teach Kae piano and tells her to be aware of other men and Kae gets mad because she feels the teacher is treating her like a child and then she kisses him and all is band-aided. The cycle repeats over and over. Anyway, I would like to see how the story ends — will they get together or will Kae find someone her own age or will they part for some time so Kae can grow-up a little and then get back together, or not. I guess I really want to see Kae grow-up and the piano teacher soften (and stop smoking like chimney — ugh, it’s absolutely disgusting how much this character smokes).

Fortunately, the story is told with the simple yet deep and on target narration and dialogue that is expected of Matsumoto Tomo, so even though the cycle of Kae and Goshima’s relationship repeats in action, we see that both the Kae and Goshima are slowly evolving in thought. At the point where I left off, Kae and Goshima are not able to see each other. Both are forced to take a look at themselves and to re-evaluate the relationship. Kae is trying not to let herself be hurt and Goshima is wondering whether Kae is hurt. We also sense that Goshima is taking some time away from Kae to grow up himself. It’s understood as he is now, he can’t sustain any kind of meaningful relationship nor provide for Kae if he were to get serious about her.

So far this is a very good manga series, but it’s not something that can be easily understood by teenagers. Actually, I’m a little disturbed that there are so many manga on this subject. I wonder is it good to give girls under 18 the thoughts that this sort of relationship is one they should try to pursue. Obviously, this sort of thing is against the law in the US. Although it’s not against the law in Japan, I would imagine, it’s still not something that is not accepted. I don’t necessarily feel that this manga is advocating or warning against this type of relationship. It’s merely telling the story of two people in a relationship in a rather objective manner. This brings me to that matter of “Faster than a Kiss” which I don’t have a problem with because they are married. Although, it was a snap decision, the teacher in that manga series is fully taking responsibility for his 16-year wife and her little brother. The same is true for “Onegai Sensei.” They are married, so as far as I’m concerned it’s okay.

I will reserve final judgment for “Kiss” when I’ve completely read the series.

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