A manga by Tohru Uchimizu
When you are a socially awkward girl such as Misao, having a friend in school that is arguably one of the most revered, if not entirely popular students, is a big social get. With most kids, this would set them up to have a great couple of years in school, but things are different when your friend happens to be Sae Maki. While initially a somewhat positive, albeit intense relationship, things take a turn for the darker side in chapter two of The Love and Creed of Sae Maki AKA Sae-ism by Tohru Uchimizu. Not only does Sae start implementing cult-like behaviors such as a concerted effort to try and separate Misao from her family, the troubled girl begins to force her new protege to do things such as hold restroom breaks in and display herself undressed through strong coercive techniques that weigh on Misao a great deal. It is made somewhat clear that if Misao “misbehaves”, it will be seen as breaking an oath that she unwittingly gave, and potentially face a furious response.
“Misao is a high school girl who is terrible at making friends. One day, she’s saved from her loneliness by Sae, whose academics, athleticism, and even appearance are “perfect.” But Sae’s idea of friendship is a little distorted…As the story moves on, Misao is trapped by Sae, who controls Misao as she pleases. Feeling that her life is in danger, Misao and Kokai, a young man who vows to save her, strategize ways to release Misao from Sae’s control.”
While the incoming terror we were suspecting was merely hinted at in volume one, volume two runs out of the gates almost immediately, wasting absolutely no time in painting Sae Maki as absolutely deranged in just about every way. I was actually somewhat surprised this realization by Misao came so early on in the series, as well as the possible glimmer of hope we see in the inclusion of one of Sae’s previous “friends” popping up and revealing themselves to be the one that sent the not to Misao warning of impending doom. It will be interesting to see what twists and turns we see from the story moving forward, as I believe there are at least sixteen chapters of the story available if not more.
The artwork is this book is interesting, sharing a lot of it’s aesthetics with late 90’s / early 2000’s shoujo and romance manga. This should be no surprise as Tohru Uchimizu got his start in the industry at around that same timeframe. I don’t have a huge wealth of knowledge in either that genre or manga in that genre from that time period, but it reminded me of something like Mars by Fuyumi Soryo or Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, albeit in a twisted way that acts as a counter-point to those comics. Aside from the wonky title for the manga itself, the translation seems fine, and at no point did I see crazy mis-spellings or other telltale signs of an inferior product like other manga released in this manner on Amazon.
Speaking of which, this manga is published by Akita Publishing Co.,Ltd. directly to the US market via digital sales on Amazon, which is the same format used for comics like Creature (another by them) and Lockdown Zone Level X, which I have been slowly reading for the last year. I actually like this delivery method because I don’t have a ton of room to be buying manga paperbacks all the time, and it’s easier to tell if I will like something or not with a few chapters at a lower price. It’s a great alternative to succumbing to pirate “scan-lation” companies that generally are not that good at what they do and steal money from the creators. I’m not saying I have never used such sites, but if it’s available legitimately, I prefer that over anything shady.
Overall, I am digging this story so far, and can’t wait to see what happens next. Assuming Sae is going to be VERY aware of other people meddling in her affairs, especially someone that “betrayed” her, chapter three should be especially crazy. The way some of these companies like Akita Publishing Co.,Ltd have been releasing manga on Amazon has been pretty interesting, and it’s a good way to get something somewhat obscure out there to people in a way that makes searching for FAR inferior fan translations a worthless endeavor. If you are a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited a lot of this series appears to be “free”, as in a book one can “rent” from them, so it’s very easy to step in and read a lot of what they have. Otherwise, each volume rund a couple of dollars if one would like to own it digitally, which is another solid option. It has been a bit since I reviewed part one, but I plan to go through these more often if I can – It’s a series nobody is talking about, and that’s a shame!
This book is available in a chapter-by-chapter format on Amazon.