Having read this nearly two months ago, it feels way longer then that in terms of reading. I mean, seriously time continues to chug along at such a incremental rate that I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since Two Happy Cats reviewed this. It’s better late then never to offer my thoughts on the series though, especially since I’ve read this series twice now!
It would be remiss to not give a plot synopsis. Yumi with Kurumi, is the simple story of Yumi, an over-worked and self-conscious office worker, and her discovering a discarded doll one day after a rough day of work. Feeling sympathetic to the doll, she picks it up and begins to restore it. Along the way of restoration, Yumi rediscovers herself and talents while navigating her current life and that changes that come with discovery.
For being a web comic that was picked up and published in one self contained volume, Yumi with Kurumi might be the manga among us we all should try to read at least once. While there’s plenty of social commentary to found in it’s pages, it’s really more about rediscovering your passions. It only took Yumi a glance and a low-risk choice to rekindle her forgotten hobby.
What makes this story stand out is just how closely we follow Yumi’s actions throughout the story. There’s lots of close ups to Yumi’s expressions, or what activity she’s focusing on at the moment. After those close up’s the story pans out to get a broader perspective as to what environment she’s in, and who she’s interacting with. There’s generous insight to her thoughts and opinions via text panels, and other blurbs within the panel. It really makes for a very personal reading experiance, especially if any elements overlap with your own life.
Plus, there’s a few changes of perspective that we also follow quite closely for an added pop to the story!
Artistically, the story stands out as well. There’s a bubble-like quality to all the characters, most of whom have softer features and more gentle shapes then other contemporary works. Their expressions are very similar with a softer feel to them, but with a clear sense of the emotion being portrayed. Uruhiko-Sensei knows how to set up each panel with a good sense of contrast with bold usage of black and white to create the initial contrasts and filling in appropriately with grey-scale tones and texture to give most panels depth. In those where there’s little to know contrasting values, all items are outlined finely to give the panel structure and a secure sense of what we’re looking at.
Overall, Yumi with Kurumi is a really heartfelt story that knows exactly what it’s purpose is. It shows how the little changes, can show you how wonderful life’s simplest pleasures can be. I can’t recommend it enough to the intermediate Japanese learner, and anyone else who can get their hands on it!