To the kids who say they were born in the wrong era, this manga is for you. A lighthearted story of friendship and love, Rie Kanou’s Slow Motion wo Mou Ichido is a manga filled with moments of nostalgia and one that I wish would get an official English release.
Slow Motion wo Mou Ichido (スローモーションをもう一度) ran in Big Comic Spirits from Aug 8, 2016, to May 21, 2018 and was compiled into seven volumes. Named after famed idol singer Akina Nakamori’s debut single, this manga follows the relationship of Hiro Ōtaki and Tomoyo Yakushimaru, two modern teenagers who share a secret passion for 1980s Japanese pop culture.
Bullied in middle school for his eccentric hobbies, Hiro Ōtaki vowed to reinvent himself in high school, becoming, at least on the outside, the quintessential teenage boy. But inside, Ōtaki has no interest in current trends, and in turn, finds it hard to connect with others his age. It’s only when he’s alone that he can feel free. Surrounded by old magazines, posters, toys, and other 1980s memorabilia, Ōtaki finds peace in his room above his family’s bar.
However, Ōtaki’s idle days soon end when Tomoyo Yakushimaru comes into his life. One day after school, Ōtaki sits alone in a classroom listening to music on his phone—Akina Nakamori’s “Slow Motion,” to be exact. He soon realizes Yakushimaru had walked in and heard him quietly singing the lyrics. A seemingly gloomy girl, Yakushimaru tends to keep to herself. Ōtaki, although embarrassed, doesn’t give it much thought.
The next morning, Ōtaki finds a bromide of Akina in his desk, much to the amusement of his classmates. Ōtaki plays it off as some practical joke, but has a feeling Yakushimaru had something to do with it.
Yakushimaru forgets her train pass at school, and their teacher tasks Ōtaki with delivering her it to her house. Ōtaki arrives at the address, a worn-down looking building with the muffled sounds of Akina Nakamori’s “Shoujo A” floating from the window.
Opening the door, Ōtaki finds a startled Yakushimaru, dressed adorably in a vintage idol dress. Her room mirrors his own, with records, magazines, collectibles, all from the 80s, strewn about. Ōtaki practically explodes with excitement at the treasures he sees, revealing his long-held secret in his outburst. Embarrassed, Yakushimaru asks him to leave.
On his walk home, Ōtaki feels a strange sensation in his chest, realizing for the first time in a very long time, he actually felt a connection with someone.
At school the following day, Yakushimaru finds Ōtaki and implores him to forget everything he saw. But that’s something Otaki just can’t do. As the story progresses, both learn to open up, becoming friends, and later on, something more.
An “Old-Fashioned” Romance
In an interview with lifestyle website Suits woman, Rie Kanou revealed she wanted to write a love story that contrasted against the hyperconnected nature of today’s world. With smartphones and social media, there’s an illusion that people are always connected, since getting in touch with one another is simply a few taps away. Rejecting this notion, Kanou chose to develop Ōtaki and Yakushimaru’s relationship by way of “old-fashioned” inconveniences.
For instance, while Ōtaki uses LINE to text his other classmates, he chooses to talk to Yakushimaru after school using vintage pocket bells. This is certainly impractical and leads to plenty of misunderstandings between the two. At the same time, using devices that can talk only to each other makes every message sent between them that much more meaningful.
Forgoing modern methods of communication also emphasizes the need for Ōtaki and Yakushimaru to meet face-to-face in order to grow. There are many instances where Ōtaki feels unsure about their relationship simply because they haven’t seen each other for a few days, and there’s only so much that can be said in a pocket bell message. It’s only when they’re together in person that the two can truly relay and understand each other’s feelings.
A Timeless Story for Today’s Readers
Bringing Slow Motion wo Mou Ichido to English-speaking audiences doesn’t seem impossible, especially given the resurgence of interest in 80s-90s Japanese city pop and idol culture among Western fans (spurred in part by Mariya Takeuchi’s viral “Plastic Love” video on YouTube). But its constant references to Japanese singers, actors, television shows, and other cultural staples might fly over the heads of Western readers, especially those not well-versed in older Japanese pop phenomena. On the other hand, this manga might spark a reader’s interest in exploring this era even more, exposing them to media they otherwise wouldn’t know exists.
In any case, Slow Motion wo Mou Ichido offers a wholesome story that readers, Japanese pop aficionados or not, can appreciate. Because really, who hasn’t dreamed of days gone by, even those you never really lived?
Slow Motion wo Mou Ichido is currently available to read in Japanese at BOOK☆WALKER.
Slow Motion wo Mou Ichido
Original Title: スローモーションをもう一度
Author: Rie Kanou
Release Date: October 28, 2016 (tankōbon edition)
Publisher: Shogakukan (JP)
From the publisher: クラスではイケてるグループに属している、一見 リア充な高校一年生・大滝くん。だけど実は彼には、誰にも言えない「秘密」があった… それは、アイドルや歌、おもちゃなどの「８０年代文化」が大好きということ！自分が大好きなものを誰とも共有できず、一人だけで楽しむ毎日を送っている大滝くん。そんなある日、クラスで隣の席の地味な女の子・薬師丸ちゃんが自分と同じ「秘密」を持っていることを知って!? 同じ趣味を持った同年代の人間とはじめて会った二人が、一緒に遊ぶようになり、そして、恋に落ちていくという、みずみずしくて胸がキュンとするラブストーリーです。