Yusuke Serizawa helped his teacher Hermes overcome her stage fright, but now he’s found that he has feelings for her. Memories of Yusuke’s past relationships continue to be relived in this heartbreaking romantic tale.

The Lowdown

Yusuke is now in his final year of high-school, and has fallen for his beautiful cram-school teacher, “Hermes”, after helping her conquer her stage-fright. However, he gets approached by a prince-life figure who says that he and Yusuke are “two of a kind”, stressing Yusuke out even further. As he studies to get into Hermes’ university, Yusuke wonders if he’ll ever be able to confess to her.

How Was It?

Forget Me Not Vol. 1 was a heartbreaking portrait of the fragility of romantic relationships shown through Yusuke’s recollections of his failed relationships with a series of girls whose names’ he cannot remember. Yusuke’s search for his mysterious saviour is not mentioned in this volume, and this is no problem because the two stories contained in this volume connect well together. This volume continues this exceptional exploration through the continuation of Yusuke’s relationship with his cram-school teacher, Hermes, in a thoroughly satisfying manner. This arc covers the first half of the volume, and I was completely impressed with the way that this story was able to engage with an interwoven set of complex emotions involved on the parts of these characters.

Part of the reason why the Yusuke’s story with Hermes succeeds so resoundingly is because of the way it shows the very real effects of his experiences on his actions. Yusuke continues to be portrayed throughout as a deeply flawed individual - he acts rashly, overthinks things, and does things that both he and others acknowledge as fairly stupid. However, his thought process feels completely authentic as the product of his various insecurities in a way that really captures alternating elation and nervousness of a young man pining after his teacher in a way he knows is somewhat silly but can’t stop. His process of growing is all rather messy and has no clear answers, but this makes Yusuke’s very visible struggle to do the right thing feel particularly meaningful in the context of this story.

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Yusuke’s struggle is even more impressively told because of the way that we clearly see the direct effect that the events of this story have on his later actions to end off this arc (partial spoilers follow, skip to the next paragraph if you want to remain unspoilt). Towards the end of this volume, Yusuke unwittingly confesses and gets ambiguously let down by Hermes, causing him a good deal of frustration because of his desire for the dignity of a clear answer that he can move on from. He reflects on this with his friend, and we see very visibly his inner frustration at not being able to be with Hermes while being left in limbo with regard to his feelings. This changes Yusuke, and we see very clearly at the end of this volume in the way that he deals with a surprising confession from his friend. This segment was a perfect end to the arc, and did a great job of putting Yusuke’s development into meaningful context in a way that felt respectful and tugged on my heartstrings. This was an exceptional finish, and the “Hermes” arc alone is enough to make this series a wholehearted recommendation on my part.

The second part of this volume follows Yusuke in his first year of college, and I enjoyed the beginning of this story quite a bit for the way it continued Yusuke’s character development. This arc focuses on Yusuke’s friendship with a girl he remembers as “Tsukushi Makino”, likely in reference to the protagonist of famous shojo series Boy Over Flowers. After she catches his eye on campus, Yusuke ends up helping Makino out with getting to her various jobs after he finds out that she works extremely hard to support her family much like her namesake. I really liked the way that this chapter took the focus beyond Yusuke’s love life to show the way he has matured in the rest of his life over this story, and I found his charming interactions with Makino to be refreshing on the whole. As the emotional stakes involved become more apparent, I found myself becoming really engaged with the arc to see how Yusuke will continue his growth here.

Forget Me Not Vol. 2's art is exceptional, and I was thoroughly impressed by how well the detail in artist Nao Emoto’s designs complemented the story. I really enjoyed the way that Emoto clearly places emphasis on the eyes of the characters to convey emotions scenes, and I felt that this was a great way to add some emotional subtext to each of the scenes. The lighter touches in the shading which accompany certain moments in this volume convey the sentimentality of Yusuke reliving his memories, and this created a nostalgically bittersweet tone quite well. The paneling also continues to cleanly get across the events, and I appreciated Emoto’s use of varying angles to create a more cinematic feel. Overall, this volume’s art really did a great job of complementing the emotional intensity of the story, and it definitely remains one of the best parts of this series.

Final Thoughts

Forget Me Not Vol. 2 is a fantastic ode to love lost, and I wholeheartedly enjoyed all of this volume. Yusuke’s rocky journey has been incredibly fulfilling thus far for the tangible ways that his own character growth is shown, and this series is special precisely because it embraces the messiness of the emotions involved. The art is also absolutely wonderful, making this manga a truly complete package that should not be missed by any fans of romance stories.

What do our scores mean?

Forget Me Not Vol. 2 was translated by Ko Ransom and published by Kodansha Comics USA on May 17th, 2016. Authored by Nao Emoto based on the original story by Mag Hsu, the series is ongoing in Kodansha’sMonthly Shonen Magazine. Volume 3 will be released in English on July 12th 2016.

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