We need a petition for an official licensing – Last Quarter

I had the honor last year of being able to attend the art exhibit of Yazawa Ai. At the time, I had technically only read two of her works, NANA and Tenshi Nanka Janai. Still I was at least aware of her cult-classic Neighborhood Story, and second-best known manga Paradise Kiss.

As I walked through the exhibit, drinking in the pages, I was taken back by the art for the little known series Kagen no Tsuki, or Last Quarter. The main lead, Adam has some of the most mesmerizing eyes that Yazawa-Sensei has ever drawn. I found myself breathless, looking over the panels and just how similar and different it felt to her previous, and then future works. I knew I had to get my hands on it, and wouldn’t you know it – the two volume re-issue was at the gift shop.

I’m not the biggest fan of mysteries, but Last Quarter drew me in. Especially since it’s such an interesting blend of ideas that Yazawa Ai would repurpose in NANA, and ideas and concepts seen in her previous works.

I know it’s a bit much to start, but like Yazawa Ai just excels at sequences like this.

Last Quarter starts with Mochizuki Mizuki, a high schooler meeting a street musician named Adam by chance with his alluring blue eyes. For two weeks the duo live together completely forgetting the world around them in a whirlwind romance, tainted with how sudden it came and went. Adam asks Mizuki to leave Tokyo with him, and she immediately agrees. As she crosses the road to join him, a car strikes her, and she fails to connect with him. A month later, Hotaru Shirashi a fifth grader has recovered from her own health complications. She is searching for her missing cat, and follows a similar-looking one to an abandoned mansion. Within the mansion she meets a high schooler, without any memories and trapped within the mansion. All she knows is that she wants to reunite with “Adam”. Hotaru enlists her friend Sae, and classmates Tetsu Sugisaki and Miura Masaki to help the high schooler. The only catch is that Hotaru can see the girl known as “Eve”, but no one else can!

Considering for a large in part I got into Yazawa-Sensei’s works backwards so the speak, I wasn’t sure how she was going to handle a mystery. It takes a lot more planning and consideration then a standard shojo story. While I’m confident she has the drive to tell the story in a unique way, compelling characters and events that have you hooked, but seems to be a little bit lacking when it comes to tying it all together. Needless to say that Last Quarter, was an experimental piece, that was a major precursor piece to further developing Yazawa’s story-telling style.

While the first two chapters do a great job linking protagonist Mizuki, and then handing the baton off to Hotaru. The following chapters are intentionally non-linear as a method of building suspense towards reveals that do and don’t have some substantial pay off. It’s worth noting that while reading – as someone who is very bad at picking up on clues mystery story progressions, Last Quarter is very approachable and engaging. I found myself absolutely absorbed in the story, wanting Hotaru and company to uncover the truth as quick as possible. However, in post-read reflection a few of the reveals are a little too nonsensical even with the supernatural elements, and a bit too simple to feel realistic. A lot of this can be pinned on the fact that the main cast consists of fifth graders – nuance and a fully developed flawless conclusion is off the table.

Some pretty interesting themes presented in Last Quarter can later be seen in NANA as well. As someone who was exposed to NANA first, the parallels are obvious. A lot of traits, events and concepts that built Ren’s character originated from Adam’s story. That traits and trajectories of both Nana O. and Nana K. can be traced back to Mizuki and later Sayaka. I won’t say exactly what these themes or qualities are, as I think it’s more fun to encourage people to read this series. It’s very apparently that Last Quarter was a very important pre-cursor work to the ultra-hit NANA. I do apologize that I have heavily compared these two series. Given the order in which I read them, it was all too obvious to not address.

One of the best panels ever, especially given the next pages. So good.

However, despite those extensive comparisons – Last Quarter stands well on it’s own. It’s clear that Last Quarter has a unique story that Yazawa Ai hadn’t attempted before, or since combing romance, mystery and supernatural elements. It’s execution might be a bit clumsy at times, but it has a distinct charm and appeal that can’t be overlooked. On full display, is Yazawa Sensei’s talent for making such stylish and distinct characters, regardless of age is readily apparent. Her designs are top notch as always, and the attention to details with accessories and personal style of each character are on point. The creative setting of the abandoned mansion, in addition to the streets of Tokyo and various schools are perfect as well.

It’s also nice that Last Quarter, unlike a lot of supernatural mystery contemporaries has a very tight pace. It starts and finishes at a concise sixteen chapters – simultaneously feelings like a lifetime of events, and a single incident wrapped up in one. For me, reading and reflecting on how much information from a few different character’s perspective was put into the story and it not feeling cluttered or crammed was incredibly impressive. There’s not many authors that can pull that off, even with a longer run time.

Unfortunately, Last Quarter like the majority of Yazawa Ai’s works has yet to be picked up for a legal translation. I do know there are a few unofficial ones out and about. It’s a must-read for any fan of Yazawa-Sensei since it’s truly such a unique entry into her body of work.



    • It is complete, just no license yet!! But Viz Media finally licensed Gokinjo Monogatari (the prequel to Paradise Kiss!) so maybe take a look at Paradise Kiss? lol

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Once NANA exploded (Paradise Kiss did well too obviously), I thought all of her other works would be scooped up immediately. And definitely once NANA started slowing down. But I guess there must be licensing issues because otherwise I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t pick up her back catalog. Especially since Gokinjo Monogatari is connected to ParaKiss.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I just saw that annoucement too!! I’m so excited that Yazawa’s works are getting picked up again!! Fingers crossed more (if not all) get licensed soon! Although I do seriously wonder why there was such a big gap between Paradise Kiss/NANA and now? Something to ponder…

        Liked by 1 person

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