HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Sakura, Saku" - Volume One

MANGA REVIEW | "Sakura, Saku" - Volume One

MANGA REVIEW | "Sakura, Saku" - Volume One

A little act of kindness can go a long way. It could very well change the perspective of anyone, to the point of having them transform into a totally different person. But how does one return the favor to that inspiring person? Worse, what if you had no clue who or where this person could be? Sakura, Saku, the latest series from Ao Haru Ride author Io Sakisaka, tells the tale of how one girl seeks out that friendly face.

It all begins with Saku Fujigaya, who one day feels unwell on a train ride home. She collapses, awakening in a first aid room in the train station. After being told what happened, Saku aims to find that person and thank them. A note is left for Saku with a phone number and a name: Ryosuke Sakura. However, the phone number doesn’t work, leaving the trail to seek him cold for Saku.

Even though her search is a tough one, Saku is determined to find Ryosuke. Despite his mysterious whereabouts and looks, Saku quickly finds that she’s been influenced by his kindness. Whenever she sees a person who looks troubled, she’ll help them out no questions asked. From giving directions to finding a lost charm, no task is too big or small for her to tackle. It’s this level of kindness that’s given her the nickname “goody two-shoes”, with one person dubbing her that the school’s newcomer: Haruki Sakura. And he has a brother named Ryosuke!

Naturally, Saku wants to meet Ryosuke, but Haruki is hesitant to introduce him to her. His reasons are fairly understandable, as Ryosuke’s the kind of guy that women swoon over. However, after getting to know her better, Haruki realizes that Saku isn’t like the other lovestruck girls in the past; she’s got a legitimate reason for wanting to see Ryosuke! But then, a key factor comes up that Saku never thought of, and it may cause her quest to seek this kind person to have several setbacks.

There are a lot of layers to dig up with Sakura, Saku. It’s nice seeing that romance isn’t a key thing in this series. The girl wants to see the boy, with the only goal for her is to properly thank him. With that being said, it doesn’t mean love won’t be a key player in this series, especially with how close Saku gets with Haruki during this first volume. In fact, a bit of a conundrum might be building between the two and Ryosuke!

However, one can’t help but feel the slow pace of the series's first volume. It’s nice to see a narrative take its time with introducing the key players and the plot, but there are parts that feel like they’re dragging. Granted, this could be because we need to see Haruki witness the kind of person that Saku is, with her desire to help anyone playing a big role into how Haruki starts warming up to the girl. Then again, there are quicker ways to establish this without the need for too much filter or exposition.

I’ll give credit that Sakura, Saku is very pleasing for the eyes. Even in the parts that run a bit long, Sakisaka’s artwork really knows how to pop with beauty and detail. With her work in Ao Haru Ride and Love Me, Love Me Not, the manga author has clearly mastered that Shojo Beat aesthetic. (Bonus points for fans of Sakisaka if they recognize Easter Eggs from past works in this new one, be it a returning character or a certain piece of mascot merch!)

Volume One of Sakura, Saku does a good job with setting up the premise, but it can feel oversaturated. Even though the first chapter is labeled a prologue, the entirety of this volume could be considered a prelude to the real story that’s about to unfold. Fans of Sakisaka’s previous works may find plenty of reasons to stick around, whereas newcomers might need a little convincing before continuing with this journey. Hopefully, just as Saku does throughout the volume, Sakura, Saku will lend a helping hand to guide those looking for that hook that’ll push readers deep into this slow-yet-beautiful world.


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)