‘Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari’
“To the homeless man, Ayu must have looked like an angel-
one who radiates pure, deep love from inside.”
You know the type of story that leaves a dull ache in your chest or a lump in your throat you can’t seem to swallow? Well, ‘Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari’ by Yoshi & Yoshii, Yuu is one of those stories. So if you ever plan on reading it, you’ve been forewarned.
While in a high school setting, I believe this manga being filed under the ‘shoujo’ genre is possibly a mistake, maybe ‘josei’ would be more appropriate. At least, to me, the themes and events in this manga seemed to be aimed at a more “mature” audience – perhaps a ‘Nana’ type audience.
If there’s one word I would use to describe the story of ‘Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari’ it would be tragic. The story of Ayu’s life is filled with so much tragedy: tragic people, tragic circumstances and tragic philosophies. However, in this world built on tragedy, the main character Ayu still manages to experience precious moments of love as she becomes more involved with the few kind people (and animal) around her. Through these moments, as short and fleeting as they are, she finds a light to fuel her desire and capacity to love and be loved. Despite the fact that almost everyone else she knows is trying to bring her down and life is only throwing great obstacles her way, she still manages to become more connected with the kindness that surrounds her. In that kindness, she finds a light to ignite her pure, deep love which she believed had already burnt out.
“Happiness? What is that? Can’t you live without it?”
What happens when someone is headed in a good direction after drowning in the mud for so long? As you immerse yourself in Ayu’s world and circumstances, you find yourself yearning for her happiness, the happiness she doesn’t seem to know of, the happiness she feels she can live without. You’re taken on a journey through Ayu’s numbed, colourless life and you watch as she learns that happiness and love are possible for her which is quite a lovely journey to follow, which is why it absolutely crushed you when you’re reminded life isn’t simple or easy. A person too used to the depths will only know how to keep their head above water for so long. A lot of the time, relapse is inevitable.
I think the thing I found most impressive about this manga is the transition of the main characters mentality towards her life, love, people, relationships and the world. From the beginning, Ayu’s main thoughts, emotions and actions are driven by self-destruction, cynicism and worthlessness. But as the story progresses, she slowly learns that love and hope exist. You find her with a desire to live as she begins to see the value in life, others and herself. Her close-minded cynical thoughts shatter as other characters come into her life and show her there’s more to the world than misery.
“Even in a dirty city, they’ll bloom if they try hard to.”
Whether people want to admit it or not, this manga is simply a depiction of how life is for some people. Whilst I was reading, sometimes it almost felt like Ayu was sitting there with me telling me about her life. Like she wanted to tell me that despite how shit life can be, it’s never too late to change and notice the good around us, that it’s never too late to live – even if we won’t live long.
This manga doesn’t tell a story where everything is sunshine and rainbows, or where things start out muddy but all is well in the end. It portrays a life where things never seem to go right, but if you’re willing to let yourself find a way to bloom in the dirtiest and most unfortunate places, then you’ll find moments of happiness. Even if the moment doesn’t last long, it still means something, it has worth. Ayu finds reasons to smile and reasons to cry. Both drive her to bloom and love as she finds something to protect, something to live for.
“You know Granny, there was a time where I didn’t care whether I lived or died… but…
now I don’t want to die.”