Mabataki no Aida or In a Heartbeat is a shounen-ai manga written and drawn by Sugu Neruko. I am not actually familiar with the mangaka and the manga is not that easily accessible in the manga sites that I frequent so I feel so lucky that I managed to stumble on this one.
This is a story about unrequited love and internal struggles of our two main characters – Hide and Haru. When Hide moved in a new town, Haru was the one who became the closest to him. However, as time passed, Hide’s feelings towards him began to change. But before he could do anything about that, he left the town. After so many years, the two meet again.
The story and the pacing in which it was told were very realistic. I guess it is one of its unique qualities compared to the mainstream type of BL stories. I am not going to narrate what happened in the whole manga but you will see and feel how painfully real the characters are. Also, the romance never felt rushed nor forced. It just flows naturally between the characters. Indeed, a story that grips your heart.
The main spotlight for this manga is its characters – Haru, Hide and even the side character Kuroda. They all have depths. The characters are very down to earth which make them feel really human. They all have issues in which they have to settle. We have Hide who could not forget the first man he loved even after so many year. We have Haru who is reluctant to accept Hide’s feelings because of the fear of losing a friend and the memories of his deceased wife. We also have Kuroda, Hide’s ex boyfriend whom I really, really, really sympathize to.
Even though they have been going around in circle because of some circumstances, their actions are really justified. At one point, I feel like some actions and decisions that they have done are so bad but after thinking real hard and putting myself in the characters’ shoes… yeah, I would have felt and reacted the same.
I really can not explain it without spoiling the whole story so you have to read it for yourselves.
Anyway, as for the art, it is really simple. It does not have really complicated panel arrangements. It has simple backgrounds. The character designs are simple as well. But what makes the art special for this one is that… it also felt real. The raw emotions show in the eyes and facial expressions of the characters. The atmosphere and the mood of the story emanates from the way it was drawn. The characters look human enough but they can be so damn cute as well.
Overall, it manages to steal a spot on my Top BL manga to date. So yeah, it was really great. No need to explain that there is no NSFW scenes here right?
I greatly recommend this one to all BL readers out there. Also to those who are new to this, it will be a good starter for you. The chapters are really short (10 pages or so) which could be both a great and bad thing.
I really had a great time reading and re-reading this one. I hope the same goes for those of you who had read and will read this great piece – In a Heartbeat.