Book Review: “A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow” by Makoto Hagino

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful 2019, and that 2020 is just as good or even better!

I figured I’d kick off  2020 with a book review, and I’m reviewing “A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow,” written and drawn by Makoto Hagino! Like the “Kase San” series I previously reviewed, this also features a lesbian romance between the two main characters. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

Cover of “A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow” by Makoto Hagino.

“Sometimes you find what you yearn for…

Konatsu is about to start a new school in a new town, and she’s basically all on her own. Her dad just got a job overseas, and her aunt can only check in from time to time. It’s a lot for a shy, reserved girl to handle. But on one of the first days of class, she discovers that the school has an aquarium! The club that runs the aquarium is headed by an older student named Koyuki, and Konatsu is instantly drawn to her. Konatsu’s introverted tendencies are hard to overcome, but maybe she’s found something worth coming out of her shell for?

Konatsu is doing her best to adapt to her new school, but being required to join a club has introduced additional pressures. Her friendly classmate Kaede invites her to join the Home Ec Club, but Konatsu hasn’t even had time to consider which club she’s interested in. Meanwhile, Koyuki is like a ray of sunshine in Konatsu’s cloudy world. Will Konatsu join the Aquarium Club?”

Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Given that this is the first book in the series, the plot leans more towards introducing all the main characters and setting up the overall main situation going on (which ties directly with the main romance happening). This is fine for me as a reader, especially when the plot does a good job of explaining what the heck is going in there. I’m sure it’s bound to pick up in pacing more in later volumes, but this was a good, solid start to the series as a whole.

Character Development: 5 out of 5 stars

Romance Development: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Koyuki is fun to read, especially when she starts getting into these thought processes of falling for Konatsu throughout this volume. Her reactions to simple interactions with Konatsu are adorable and endearing to read. This volume also shows her as more than a love interest as well, through her wanting to express her authentic self as more than just the model of a “perfect student,” as well as how invested and interested she is in the Aquarium club that she runs. I’m interested in seeing more of her authentic self develop in later volumes, especially since her interactions with Konatsu seem to help her get out of that exterior “role model” shell of hers.

For anyone that is starting a new school, or is naturally shy and reserved, you will likely relate heavily to Konatsu. Being an introvert myself in general, I definitely related to her and and wanting to adapt to a new environment, on top of having to join something as social as a club. In a way, I think it’s good for Konatsu that she joined the Aquarium club for sure by the end of this volume, mainly because, well…Koyuki is the only other member of the club when Konatsu first joins (and it makes me wonder if others will join in the future, which I hope happens because then Konatsu can make more friends). Also, it’s clear that Koyuki and Konatsu click in personality. They have their differences; not just in age but also in how they act in general, but the chemistry between them works really well. If this wasn’t a romance manga, I feel like the plot could easily focus on the two of them as friends.

However, this is a romance manga, and  so the plot does focus on them growing romantic towards each other. Good news? The romance build-up is really good so far! Unlike the first volume of “Kase San,” the first volume of this particular manga doesn’t have the Konatsu and Koyuki getting together quickly by the end of the book. The romance, instead, has more of a slow-burn feel where it’s clear that the two have growing affections for each other and share a lot of cute moments (more shown with Koyuki gaining a serious crush on Konatsu this time), but it hasn’t quite clicked for them yet that they both have a crush on each other. It’s clear that Koyuki really likes Konatsu, but does Konatsu like her back? That forms the main sort of conflict for this romance, at least for this first volume (although it’s less of a conflict and more like a lot of questions to be explored), and leaves it on a cliffhanger that wants me to read more. Hopefully more of Konatsu’s feelings towards Koyuki in return will be explored in the next volume (and maybe they will find out they both have crushes on each other and get together?), but this was a good start. They have good chemistry together, and I can definitely see the two of them working out as a romance (which is good, given as I mentioned earlier that this is a romance manga).

Overall, I’m rating this 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This is a great start to a cute romance series, and I would love to pick up the next volume in the series when I can. For those who want to read and see some cute fish and salamanders on top of romance, this is definitely for you.

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