Please be advised I received an advanced reviewer copy of In the Clear Moonlit Dusk volume 1 from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Contrary to most recent popular belief, I don’t just read Yaoi manga. While recently it has been mostly all I read, as it is a completely new world for me, I still dive deep into almost every single genre of manga. However, if there is one genre that holds a dear spot in my heart, it is shoujo. As a girl who grew up on Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, shoujo was, is , and will always be that girl. I may primary be reading a josie or a yaoi title, I still make time for a cute shoujo every now and then.
When I saw the cover for In the Clear Moonlit Dusk Volume 1 by Mika Yamamori and published by Kodansha, I was under the impression that this would be a shounen ai title. Much to my surprise, I read the description and quickly realized I was wrong. In the Clear Moonlit Dusk stars Yoi Takiguchi, your totally untypical shoujo lead. She is tall, lanky, has a short haircut, and a deeper voice than most the girls in her class. Nicknamed “the prince” by said girls, Yoi stands out as the admiration of her fellow female peers while being ignored by her male classmates.
Yoi isn’t exactly thrilled with her reputation and how she is perceived by both female and male classmates but she just sort of shrugs it off and accepts her fate. Until one day she literally bumps into someone who will make her see things differently, including herself. Dubbed the “other prince” at their school, Kohaku Ichimura runs into Yoi and believes he has come across the most beautiful boy he has ever seen. It isn’t until Kohaku is corrected by his peers that he realizes Yoi is indeed a girl.
The rest of the first volume follows the budding friendship between Yoi and Kohaku. Kohaku is crushing on Yoi but Yoi who is not used to being called beautiful, much less by a boy, is very taken back and on guard. Through their following interactions, Yoi struggles with believe Kohaku’s true intentions and if he indeed is treating her differently or just being nice.
In the Clear Moonlit Dusk immediately tugged at my heartstrings because I truly felt for Yoi. Never having seen herself as “beautiful,” she really struggles with this newfound attention, especially from someone she is also attracted to. For so long her androgynous features have worked against only for now someone to be completely enamored by them is a huge change for her. Yoi clearly has a lot of confidence to gain and it is clear that Kohaku is going to play a big role in opening her eyes.
One of my favorite parts so far about Yoi’s storyline, and that I’m hoping continues in future chapters, is the fact that Kohaku sees her as beautiful just as she is. He is absolutely smitten with her when he confuses her for a boy and upon learning she is a girl, Kohaku is still just as taken aback. Him confusing her for a boy isn’t a cheap shot or causing any issues. I love that so far there hasn’t been a desperate need to show Yoi in “girly” clothes or behaving more feminine. I think In the Clear Moonlit Dusk has a huge potential to be a story that tackles the gender norms, especially in the shoujo genre with this school age romance. It also seems to be focusing on self-image, dealing with the titles people give us, and learning to create our own.
I’m so excited to continue this series and ship Yoi and Kohaku. I’m counting down to volume 2!
In The Clear Moonlit Dusk volume one is available digitally now. Find a retailer here.