REC -Kimi ga Naita Hi-
REC -The Day You Cried-
REC -Day You Were Crying-
Shoujo – Romance, slice-of-life, tragedy
1 Volume (complete)
Minami has never cried a day in her life. Even watching the sad movie starring her classmate (and recently retired superstar) Akira didn’t move her. Since the friendless Minami always carries around a camcorder, her classmates start to suspect she is the one behind the viral video of a dead cat. Despite the rumor, Akira suddenly approaches Minami…
I haven’t done one of these in a while. As I’ve mentioned before, I imagined the Unlicensed Spotlights to feature mainly lesser known series, and while there are a lot of great multi-volume manga that need to be published in English, there is plenty of room for a one-and-done series. Perhaps for financial reasons, perhaps it’s a way to get new readers interested in manga, or perhaps one volume is all you need for an engaging tale. And in the case of REC -Kimi ga Naita Hi-, the strength is in the length.
This volume is made up of the titular story REC -Kimi ga Naita Hi- (which spans four chapters) and two one-shots. I’m just going to focus on the main story since, quite frankly, it’s all I really care about.
The setup is a bit similar to Say I Love You.: a likable popular boy approaches the anti-social heroine who insists she’s fine alone. Minami is considered the Ice Queen of her classroom, the weird girl who always has a neutral (arguably cold) expression and carries around a camcorder. Akira recently quit acting and then approaches Minami, offering to be filmed. Minami turns him down. But, of course, the two draw closer, and the story counts down to “the day you cried”.
Right from the start, you know what is going to happen. Considering the manga opens with Minami narrating on how she has never cried, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out who the titular “you” is.
That’s the charm of REC: it’s short, a manga planned to be four chapters right from the start and not axed early due to bad reader surveys. This manga doesn’t drag out the drama or try to hide secrets until the very end in order to change directions or throw in some kind of final conflict. REC doesn’t waste time bogging you down with other characters’ names. This is the story of two people, a video camera, and tears. Nothing else. Of course, there are other characters to round out the story, but they never distract from the main events of the manga. I really like how author Makino didn’t get bogged down in minor details.
However, what I truly love about REC -Kimi ga Naita Hi- is the ending. It’s just beautiful. Even though you know the manga is going to have crying, the finale is still moving. Makino just puts together an incredibly touching scene and then ends the story. It’s like a well-timed mic drop. Readers don’t need to see tomorrow or even 10 years from now. Anything beyond “the day” would have dulled the emotional impact. It opens with a movie and closes with a movie. The story has come full-circle, and that’s enough.
You could argue that the ending would seem a bit… for lack of a better term, forced in the real world or even a live action film, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. This isn’t the most realistic slice-of-life story out there (after all, how many of us go or went to school with a popular actor?), but the twists are established long before the full reveal. Both Minami and Akira receive something from the other, and the irony that this exchange happens on Christmas makes the ending even more stunning.
As you probably have figured out from the genre tags, this isn’t a bundle of sunshine on every page. But there’s also something touching about the fact that this is a manga aimed at the tween/young teen crowd. This avoids a lot of heavy melodrama that would probably be included if this was targeted at the older crowd. More than true love, this is first love, and REC shows that life can lead us down unexpected paths.
Ribon manga tend to have their own unique in-house style, similar to rival magazine Nakayoshi. So if you’ve read manga like Full Moon o Sagashite, Kodocha: Sana’s Stage, or Chocolate Cosmos, you’ll probably be at home with Makino’s style. Despite some moments of comedy (such as Akira’s clapping in the above image), the manga has a greytone feel to match its not-always-cheerful world and/or protagonist. However, probably a better comparison is to So Cute It Hurts!!, as characters in both manga tend to look a bit younger and feature males with large eyes. Makino is a little weak on quarter/three-quarter shots, as Minami in particular has a rounder face when she’s not looking straight ahead. It’s not quite as noticeable in the above sample pages, but the pages can be a bit busy in regards to the dialogue. It feels like a little too much in each speech bubble, but maybe that’s because of my low Japanese skill? Or maybe it’s because some panels of just the two of them going back and forth isn’t that exciting.
But while I seem to be picking on the manga, this was Makino’s first serialization, so it can have some rough spots. As I mentioned before, the final pages as a visual highlight, and the overall execution is well-done. Here the minimal dialogue lets the pictures do the talking. At least some of the busyness of the early chapters can be excused with the fact Makino has limited space to make Minami and Akira connect with each other and with readers.
Chance of License:
Well, it would be up to VIZ Media to pick this up. Their Shojo Beat line does release some really short manga, so this one-shot is a possibility. However, the younger demographic and the author’s lack of name recognition hurts its chances. In fact, I believe Makino has retired from being a mangaka as she hasn’t released anything since a one-shot in 2013, after her only multi-volume series The End of the World. (Perhaps she’s just given up, who knows. Doubt she’s been let go from Shueisha considering digital versions of her works are still being sold under the Ribon Mascot Comics label.)
But seriously, REC -Kimi ga Naita Hi- is better than some of the one or two volume series Shojo Beat has released (Heaven’s Will for instance, also done by a relatively unknown author). As a Ribon manga, the text isn’t too hard to read if you know basic Japanese. Alternatively, I know it is published in German by Tokyopop as REC – der Tag an dem ich weinte.
Sometimes it’s best to have the ending spoiled and to just enjoy the journey. Not too long to be overly dramatic and not too short to feel uninvested in the characters, REC -Kimi ga Naita Hi- is a wonderful coming-of-age tale amidst the tears.
A short vomic is available here. Several other of Makino’s works also take place in the same universe. HAL (no relation to the movie) is most notable due to it including a prequel story about Akira.