Twinkle Stars, Vol. 2

By Natsuki Takaya. Released in Japan as two separate volumes by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Sheldon Drzka.

One of Takaya’s stronger points is her ability to depict a character hiding their own emotional pain and despair, usually because they don’t want to make others worry or because it’s simply not the done thing to admit your feelings. We see more of that in this new omnibus, as we get more details on Sakuya’s depression and what led to her living away from her family with Kanade. Now to be fair, we’ve covered a lot of these sorts of situations in Fruits Basket – I mean, if you guessed emotional abuse from a parental figure, give yourself a nickel – but it can be argued that this sort of thing needs to be brought into the open as much as Takaya does. Sakuya’s repressed feelings – which she isn’t suite sure about, possibly as her new stepmother is pushing at her to hate her – are one of the highlights of the volume.

Of course, what makes Sakuya such a strong character is that it really isn’t entirely a mask to hide her emotional pain. Sakuya’s joy at being with her friends and seeing the stars is very real too, and so are her budding feelings for Chihiro, even if she finds them a bit terrifying. Chihiro is slightly less interesting in this second volume, mostly as he’s far less mercurial – he seems to have accepted Sakuya as a new friend, and therefore there’s not as much pushing back, though I suspect we’ll get that from a different angle in future volumes. Yuuri and Hijiri get the cover art, and Yuuri also gets a bit more backstory, which develops the reasons he’s fallen for Sakuya while also showing that he absolutely is not going to be the winner.

And then there’s Hijiri, who is perfect. I would like to say it’s rare I fall for a character so fast, but that’s not true, this happens all the time. But it’s always a pleasure when it does. Hijiri has a sharp tongue, but is looking out for her friends, and I am pleased to see that the very first page of this omnibus shows that she and Yuuri will not be set up into a ‘pair the spares’ romance. Of course, this also seems to be because she has a crush on her teacher, which makes me wary. Better is the amusing relationship she has with her masochistic manservant Saki, who is 100% devoted to her and has no trouble showing this in front of others, much to her dismay. Takaya’s comedy can be forced at times, but when she’s on a roll you will laugh your head off.

The preview for the next omnibus seems to show that we’ll be getting Chihiro’s backstory next – I keep thinking things are movign a bit fast, but then I recall that this series was less than half the number of volumes that fruits Basket had. That doesn’t make it any less good, though, and I look forward to intense emotional pain as only Takaya can give to readers next time around.

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