Forget Me Not Vol. 7 - Manga Review

Yusuke has gotten involved with his boss’s precocious daughter “Princess Nana”, and she is added to the list of women who have shaped his life as he tries to remember the identity of the person from his past who saved him in this final volume.

The Lowdown

Yusuke has moved on somewhat since his relationship with Sam-soon ended and finally gets a job working at a brewing company. There, he gets involved with a energetic and bubbly girl dubbed “Princess Nana” and her older guitar playing friend, Nana. Nana’s in a bit of trouble after a recording company copies her song and Princess goes after them online, so naturally it’s up to Yusuke to sort things out. However, Princess is getting more attached to Yusuke, and he begins to get wrapped up in the flow of things against his will even as his situation with Nana gets more complicated.

How Was It?

I’ve been in awe at how skillfully we’ve seen Yusuke’s process of growing up portrayed in his preceding relationships with the women which have filled this series so far, and this has made this series an emotional affective and thought-provoking tale about the pitfalls of growing up. Each segment has focused on Yusuke’s development in the context of his relationship with a particular girl, and accordingly, volume concludes this run with the continuation of his time with Princess and Nana after his break-up with Sam-soon. In my review of the previous volume, I wasn’t sure what direction this storyline was going to in, and sadly, this never becomes apparent even as it wraps up in this volume. Yusuke’s time with Princess and Nana ends up being the weakest story of this series because it obscures Yusuke’s development and fails to convey the emotions of the characters involved in an interesting way that makes sense in the context of the plot.

Perhaps the most notable weakness of this storyline was its lack of focus as Yusuke becomes simultaneously involved in some way with both girls. This isn’t a bad thing itself – the Makino Tsukushi storyline had two female leads for much of it – but this volume never ends up making it particularly clear what story this arc is supposed to be telling. The Princess’ entanglement with Yusuke might be said to be the main story as we see Yusuke slowly sucked into a relationship with her because of her devoted efforts (more on Yusuke’s emotional arc below), but this runs in parallel with Yusuke’s odd entanglement with Nana over her copyright case and broader questions about her singing life. It’s a weird mix that never comes together in a way that clearly advance any of these characters, and this was surprisingly disappointing in failing to offer the type of profound or even thoughtful rumination on aspects of the romantic experience that this series has consistently portrayed over its course.

Part of why the stories of Princess and Nana never come together is that neither of these girls are characterized sufficiently. This is an unexpected failing for this volume particularly because of how well the women who starred in the previous arcs had their personalities fleshed out with careful and meaningful depth. This is most true of Princess because never get a compelling characterization of her in this volume aside from her being over-exuberant. She then takes a darker turn in character presumably to emphasize Yusuke sort of going along with the flow in a bad situation, but her actions are never properly characterized. This leaves her looking like more of a caricature for the purpose of giving Yusuke an obsessed romantic partner, and I was disappointed that we never really got any insight that might have turned her into a fully-formed character.  

Princess suffers from an exaggerated character with little to substantiate it, but Nana suffers from the opposite problem of being bland – Yusuke’s interactions with her are primarily about her dilemma regarding her music, but her motivations and subsequent actions are strangely opaque. I never got a sense that I really knew why she was acting in a certain way, and I’m not sure what was accomplished by interjecting this storyline aside from disturbing Yusuke and Princess' relationship of sorts. Both Princess and Nana’s respective storylines receive an abrupt and half-hearted resolution that never makes it clear what the point of the whole thing was – as far as I could tell, both were put roughly in the same position they were in when we first met them without any real explanation. This storyline was disappointing and the characterization of these two women was one of its biggest failings especially compared to the high standard this series has set in fully fleshing out its characters.

While both Princess and Nana are thinly characterized in this volume, the way that Yusuke’s characterization is carried forward as the story proceeds is an unexpected failing of this volume. Throughout this series, I’ve loved how Yusuke’s actions are firmly reflective of his past experiences, and it’s always clear, despite how maddening some of his decisions are, why he ends up motivated to act a certain way. This volume doesn’t live up to those expectations – there are several moments where I was genuinely left wondering why Yusuke had acted (or most notably, not acted). The most puzzling of these undermined his relationship with Princess quite a bit because it wasn’t clear one way or another why he was staying in that relationship after expressing doubts about it. This isn’t a criticism of the fact that he does let things move along, but rather a complaint that there was nothing here to explain one way or another how he let himself get swept up in that mess in the first place. This wasn’t a failing that completely inhibited my enjoyment of the story, but was the first volume that seemed to decline to reference the previous events in the series which would seem to logically play into Yusuke’s decisions in the present. This was notable because this was something this series had done so well to this point, and in this respect it seems like this volume fell back to Earth to some degree.

The final two chapters of this volume wrap the entire story up by bringing us back to the present in addressing Yusuke’s accident and his search for the mysterious woman who saved him at the beginning of the series. The conclusion to this ended up making sense, but it also ended up being strangely less consequential than I had anticipated. That said, I did like that we did get some moments of character development for this woman that was an interesting counterpoint to Yusuke’s experiences in this series so far. Additionally, we get some resolution on a couple fronts for Yusuke himself. The storyline with Yusuke’s parents hadn’t been addressed in a few volumes, and it was surprising to see it come up here in a sequence that felt dropped into the ending straight out of the blue to wrap up loose ends up quickly.  I get why this was inserted, but it felt a bit out of place and was not nearly as emotionally resonant as it could have been if there had been a proper set-up particularly because Yusuke’s emotional trajectory was muddled by the Princess and Nana story. The ultimate conclusion to Yusuke’s story was one that I approve of both intrinsically and from a storytelling perspective, but it felt like another couple of chapters could have been used to make things feel a little bit less rushed. It’s all also a tad convenient and underdeveloped too, and I was left feeling a little bit bummed out that the ending we got felt more rushed and undercooked than Yusuke and us as readers deserved. It was also disappointing that the Princess and Nana storyline ends up having zero consequence, and I question if the series might have been stronger if that storyline had been cut out and replaced with a less rushed ending. 

One thing that is continued into this volume is Nao Emoto’s art, which is fantastically evocative of the various emotions involved on the parts of all the characters. The climatic scenes carry an appropriate sense of weight bolstered by some detailed full-page spreads for extra emphasis, and I thought that it rose to the occasion when called without question. My only complaint is that the art is complicit in exaggerating Princess’ shift in character, but I’m inclined to view the flaw as primarily with the writing as opposed to the depiction which complements the writing with clear intent. There is also a gallery of sketches included at the end of this volume which is wonderful and an appreciated way to cap off this series.

Final Thoughts

For all the complaints I have about this volume, my conclusion remains the same: this series is special, and Yusuke’s journey in growing up through his chronology of heartbreak is absolutely something that is to be highly recommended.  Forget Me Not Vol. 7 does stumble in bearing the load of this series’ excellent prior volumes with a story is a bit of a hot mess, but it gets Yusuke and us as readers where we want to be going in the end as his story concludes in a fitting, although seemingly rushed, manner. The art is predictably wonderful, and I can say that this volume does the base I expected to keep me happy despite my frustrations being largely magnified by the standard of excellence in the nuance emotional portrayals shown in previous volumes. Perhaps I’m most critical because Yusuke’s story in its entirety affected me deeply, and I hope that anyone reading this review (I expect that if you are reading this you are already deep into this series) won’t let it deter them from experiencing this wonderful series.


Forget Me Not 7
By Nao Emoto

Forget Me Not Vol. 7 was translated by Ko Ransom and published by Kodansha Comics USA on March 21st, 2017. Authored by Nao Emoto based on the original story by Mag Hsu, the series originally ran in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine.

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: March 21st, 2017

Author: Nao Emoto and Mag Hsu

Translator: Ko Ransom

Editor: Ajani Oloye

Publisher: Kodansha Comics




Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka