Author: Inio Asano
Publisher: Vertical Comics
First Published: January 19, 2016
Genres: Drama, Seinen, Slice of Life
When Koume and Keisuke's relationship begins to take shape, it is apparent that they are both searching for something. Maybe Keisuke wants something more than a kiss from the fair Koume. Maybe Koume is looking for someone better than Misaki, the local playboy. But what they find in each other over the course of a summer might be far greater than anything they were expecting.
Their lives are going to change. And this will all transpire before high school exams!
A Girl on the Shore is a manga that I didn’t know that I needed. It’s the story about two youths, both with entirely different struggles, who end up becoming friends with benefits. This isn’t a love story by any means, as many that have ever entered in a true “no strings” friendship can probably attest to. It is about loneliness, selfishness, and the complexity of relationships.
“We just do it and do it, but I keep feeling like it’s not enough. Why do you think?”
I was surprised with how much I related to this manga, having at one point been in a “friends with benefits” arrangement for the better part of a year. We would see each other every couple of weeks, hang out and catch up with each other, and he would always ask that I sleepover after. We would fall asleep holding hands and took comfort in each other’s company despite having no feelings whatsoever for each other. I would leave in the morning, and we would have zero contact beyond that. I eventually moved on when I got tired of the arrangement, feeling like we were mimicking a relationship, and the two of us politely stepped out of each other’s lives. We were there, and then we were not. I do not look at the experience positively or negatively, it was an experience that helped to soothe me, but also made me think about what I truly wanted.
This is the tone of A Girl on the Shore, as Koume deals with rejection after being used by a playboy, and Keisuke struggles with suicidal depression. The two start off as classmates as Keisuke initially tries to support Koume, conceding to her request to sleep together after she in turn rejected him.
This book depicts sex in a way that isn’t beautiful or stimulating at all, though the scenes are gratuitous. It was exactly as it should have been, and I didn’t find it sexy or offensive in any way. Two teenagers lost in the drama of youth, both characters selfish and eventually growing to resent each other, but needing the other at the same time. Both struggle with their desire for something more, something better in their lives. The characters grow and change emotionally, constantly dipping into self-destructive behavior. This is one of the most real pieces of fiction that I have ever read in my life because it speaks volumes about an emotional experience that often gets overly glamorized.
It is also notable that the manga references a real song, Happy End – Kaze wo Atsumete, which I feel is worth a listen and sets the tone beautifully for this manga.
Warnings: sex between pre-teens, depression