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Manga Review: After We Gazed at the Starry Sky (2023) by Bisco Kida

"I want to see all the starry skies in the world with you"

“Tougo Amase is a well-known photographer who focuses on night scenery—and the man Subaru Miyazawa not-so-secretly idolizes from afar. Subaru always assumed Tougo would be distant, just like the stars in his art, so he can't quite believe his luck when they meet at a trial screening of a new planetarium show. While Subaru is a totally awestruck mess of nerves, Tougo takes it all in stride. Not only that, but he's hopelessly sweet, carrying Subaru down the steps where he and his wheelchair could never go alone—just so he can watch the exhibit from the front row. Subaru can't help but think… “…I hope we meet again…”” (Yen Press)

Mangaka offers up a short and sweet exploration of love between two people in “After We Hazed at the Starry Sky.” The series approaches disabilities with sincerity by crafting a grounded romance story through shared interests and chance encounters that weave the love story between Subaru and Tougo.

The dialogue between the two is where the story thrives, and Bisco Kida shows how to navigate romance with punctuated moments of conversation to encapsulate the moment. Moreover, Kida moves the book briskly, capturing a year-long courtship throughout a single volume. This period allows the reader to catch that initial spark, a period of separation fueled by insecurities, and a tearful reunion that alludes to a lifetime of exploration together. Essentially, the story encapsulates many aspects of a relationship with such ease and clarity that it marks an impressive entry in the BL genre. The title would be nearly perfect if not for one glaring shortcoming.

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Visually, “” feels relatively simple, with backgrounds feeling rushed for a series where photography acts as the initial introduction to the couple. In addition, the characters themselves often wear the same expressions, mouths slightly open with empty eyes, that distract from the intended wonder the manga tries to instill. The art is not ‘bad,' but it certainly lacks the polish one would want in a physical BL/romance manga. This is one case where it might serve readers better to purchase digitally for those who collect in multiple formats, particularly when the physical release does not offer much additional content.

The approach to the physical release feels counterintuitive to what the manga offers. The book is a stand-alone, so including the number 1 on the front and the side is misleading. Moreover, the book coming in slightly larger print seems excessive in a series where the art is its weakest attribute. A regular-sized print manga with bonus content would have been more serviceable to the release. This does not mean the its formatting is distracting or poorly done, but the choices don't best represent what “After We Gazed at the Starry Sky” offers–including not making it clear it is a standalone release.

There is a heartwarming, well-constructed story beneath the rough exterior of “After We Gazed at the Starry Sky,” which approaches its subject with sincerity and dreamy dialogue that perfectly captures profound love. While the visuals are underwhelming, the story's strength makes the book approachable and enjoyable. Fans of both BL and emotionally engaging romance stories will appreciate what Bisco Kida has crafted.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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