Title:Sakura, Saku Vol. 1 Author: Io Sakisaka Publisher: Viz Media Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 184 Genre: Fantasy, Battle Publication Date: November 14, 2023
I’ve been a fan of Io Sakisaka for a while so, naturally, when she has another romance series out, I’m going to read it. This time, we have Sakura, Saku. It’s about a girl named Saku who, for her entire life, has been a nobody. She blends in with the crowd and doesn’t do anything to stand out. One day, while riding home on the train, she gets motion sickness. Someone opens the window for her so she can get some air but in the middle of it all, she drops her bag as she’s getting off. She wakes up at the station’s infirmary where they inform her someone returned her bag. They left their name and phone number so she decided to call the person, someone named Ryosuke Sakura, to thank him but the number was disconnected.
When she goes to school, someone calls out the name Sakura. Since it’s close to her last name, she turns around and sees a boy being called out; however, his name is Haruki Sakura. She overhears his conversation and notices that he has an older brother named Ryosuke! She’s found her guardian angel so she writes a thank you letter and asks if Haruki can give it to him. Haruki is a bit rough around the edges and refuses but after seeing how hard Saku works to make others happy, he caves and sets up a meeting between the two of them.
The meeting doesn’t go as planned; however, Saku has seen just how kind Haruki can truly be. Suddenly, her feelings for Ryosuke fade and sway in Haruki’s direction!
The cast is a bit on the small side but that has always been the case with Io Sakisaka’a works. I think she enjoys a smaller, more confined cast, and in stories such as this, it works well.
First up is Fujigaya Saku. As stated in the story section, she’s a nobody who doesn’t stick out; however, after Ryosuke returns her bag, something precious that her grandmother gave her, she has a change of heart about the type of person she wants to be. She suddenly goes out of her way to help those in need and even gets called a Goody Two-Shoes for it. Her only desire is to find a way to track down Ryosuke and tell him how much she’s thankful for his kind gesture.
So far, I will say she’s not that interesting as a main character. Her initial character shift was a bit sudden but it did add some depth until you realized that she had a one-track mind. Still, her outwardness allowed her to make a couple of new friends along the way so the shift in personality could give her something she normally wouldn’t have had. Towards the end of the volume; however, her feelings began to build for Haruki; however, it’s not that different from any other random teenage girl. I’m hoping she’ll have a bit more flavor as the series goes on but, so far, she feels a bit flat. Still, she’s not bad enough to hate, though… I guess I would say her character type gets the job done just enough.
Haruki Saku, on the other hand, well… if you’ve never read Ao Haru Ride, this won’t make a lot of sense so some context will be in order but I feel as if Haruki is an apology for Kou Mabuchi. In Ao Haru Ride, Kou was just (for the willpower of not saying a stronger word) a jerk to where it made you question why Futaba would ever bother with him. He was the kind of character who wasn’t worth pining over and it felt so forced.
Here in Sakura, Saku, Haruki is not as big of a jerk as Kou was but he gives off the same vibes. The biggest difference here is that he, not only, shows his kindness but he begins to realize his kindness… even if he continuously denies it. This makes him a more balanced version of Kou and a character that makes you believe it’s possible to fall in love with him. It feels like Sakisaka learned her lessons and decided to give a character like that another shot, only this time, nailed it straight away.
The only thing that bothers me about Haruki is that he doesn’t seem to have some mysterious past like Kou did that explains his behavior. If he does, it’s not made apparent (at least, not yet). He is the more interesting of the two main characters so far so we’ll see how all of this plays out.
Next, we have Kotono Ogiwara and Sano Mitoshi. They are introduced at, roughly, the same time. Kotono dropped a charm given to her by her boyfriend and so Fujigaya offers to help find it. When she does, it’s about to fall into a gutter. She saves the day but Sano almost trips over her. He apologizes and suddenly, everyone becomes friends. Kotono seems like an everyday teenage girl and suffers from the same one-dimensional personality problem that Fujigaya does while Sano seems warm, caring, and friendly type.
We also briefly meet Daito, or Dai for short. Right now, he’s just a childhood friend of Haruki’s. Not much to him yet.
While I do have a few issues with the plainness of the characters, the setup was done well with an interesting twist. I would go into it but I don’t want to spoil the big twist right out of the gate; however, I will say that with the way things were worded and some of the things that happened very early on in the volume, we can all formulate what happened the day that Fujigaya dropped her bag. The mystery isn’t all that deep; however, I could be wrong.
So far, we’re off to a decent start. I do like how the serve set up a possible Haruki x Fujigaya romance that seems more believable than not. Checking AniList, I see that this series has a total of nine volumes so I would expect the pacing to be a little quicker than some of her other series. That means I’ll be able to see if my hunch is right sooner than later.
Io Sakisaka does a pretty good job with her romance stories. I thought Love Me, Love Me Not did outshine Ao Haru Ride by quite a bit so I’m looking forward to seeing if Sakura, Saku can top that.
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