I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die
青野くんに触りたいから死にたい (Aono-kun ni Sawaritai kara Shinitai)
Seinen – Romance, horror, supernatural, tragedy
2 Volumes of 8 Volumes (ongoing)
Yuri is ecstatic when the guy she has been admiring from a distance agrees to go out with her, but that quickly is replaced with sadness when her new boyfriend dies. But she’s once again filled with happiness when he reappears as a ghost by her side — but is this really a reason to celebrate when they can’t even touch each other?
Ok, this is how Kodansha Comics describes this series:
“I would die if it would allow me to touch you. That is my love. Airhead Yuri-chan and her boyfriend Aono-kun had a perfectly normal relationship until one day Aono-kun suddenly “passed away” … They will never be bound together, and they cannot even touch. This is their difficult and almost too sincere love story.”
Granted, I’ve only read two volumes so far, but it does seem very misleading. I’ll explain why in just a moment, but let me first tell you what kind of series I thought it was: a girl stalking a boy. My mind immediately jumped to Happy Sugar Life. Well, I was off since Yuri does start dating Ryuhei (better known to everyone as Aono), and even after passing away, he does care about her and is frustrated that he can’t do more to help her. At the same time, I think Kodansha is off-base with their description. Why? Because the characters all seem to be as off as this being an “almost too sincere love story”.
I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die opens with Aono helping Yuri carry books to the library. Her first thought? “That’s the first time I’ve ever talked to a boy… I might get a boyfriend now!” Red flag alert. Then we see her eating by herself, her classmates not even knowing her name. But she’s still wondering what will happen if she speaks with Aono again. Red flag alert. “What if he’s thinking about me this very moment?!” she wonders excitedly as she’s forced to pair up with the gym teacher. Red flag alert. Well, Aono doesn’t notice her when passing Yuri in the hallway or even in the same class. So we later see her in her room with books scattered all over, trying to think of a way to get him to not just be aware of her but truly notice her. Everybody, say it with me: Red. Flag. Alert. So then she confesses, and although Aono doesn’t know her name or why him, he says okay. “I mean, if you want.”
But those days were likely the happiest of Yuri’s life, as she asks herself, “How did I live before I met Aono-kun…?” Red fl– ah, forget it, you know the drill by now. But then he dies a mere two weeks after they start dating. Yuri is so distraught that she attempts suicide, but Aono’s ghost appears and stops her. Yuri rushes to embrace him, but of course, he’s transparent, so the best he can do is look like he’s possessing a pillow to hold her tight. Yuri is satisfied just to have Aono back, and had I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die just been about Yuri trying to hide Aono’s existence as they spend their days together, then yeah, I might have agreed with the Kodansha Comics’ blurb. Although it still sounds like it needed longing, tears, and long monologues.
But Yuri notices at times Aono seems to lose it, and this “dark Aono” can possess people. Eventually, others learn about the existence of Aono’s ghost. First is Aono’s friend who asks about how far Yuri and Aono went the first Yuri met him, and next is a hikikomori horror-loving classmate.
Told you this manga was full of off-base characters.
So part of me wonders if this series will end up being a psychological manga. Mio says she’s afraid of the outside world and that’s why she stays locked up in her room. But what made her afraid? Then there’s Yuri’s isolated life that caused her to obsess over a guy just helping someone in need. Either way, Yuri and her new friends have to confront the real possibility that Aono could turn into an evil spirit. Other classmates start to believe Yuri is possessed by one, which is likely going to cause more problems for the main characters.
The manga does go back to its romantic roots as the heroine worries about being alone again and whether dying is worse since no one knows what will actually happen. There is evidence that dark Aono is not just Aono’s hidden desires unleashed, but whatever this Aono is, it could have its own backstory. If not, it looks like this dark Aono will provide a good dose of horror, as at times, he (it?) looks like a parasite taking over a host.
Speaking of the art, well… it honestly looks like a webcomic. Nothing wrong with webcomics, but it lacks the polish and effort that a serialized work normally has. Characters look flat, and shading and screentones are on the minimal side. This doesn’t mean I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die is so ugly it’s unreadable, but no one is going to be wowed at these visuals. The best comparison I could come up with is My Neighbor Seki‘s style but with Devils’ Line flaws. I do think the females in the story look better than the males though. The “melting” shots and dark Aono have the most impact, and when I left off, dark Aono has his own appearance now. Even before, you could tell when Aono was losing control, so I am curious as to if there’s going to be a good in-story explanation for this. Otherwise, don’t expect a whole lot out of the art. It’s passable, but that’s about it.
Honorifics are used.
I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die is fine as long as you know what you are getting into. If you are looking for a heartbreaking romance, move on. If you are looking for a gross or creepy experience, move on. If you want a more realistic version of dealing with love and loss — even with a supernatural twist — move on.
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