I came across this manga the other day when I was on mangareader. While generally I’m all for purchasing the physical thing sometimes it’s just not possible, especially if the manga hasn’t been translated to English and is not selling in your local bookstore. So that’s where the ‘scanlations’ come in. It’s really helpful for putting out there the works of mangaka which wouldn’t get noticed otherwise by the international market, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, so I started reading ‘Nononono’ by Lynn Okamoto and at first I thought it was a bit perverted (since there are some scenes where the main protagonist is naked), but as I got past the third and fourth chapters, I realised this series was actually quite brilliant.
Since there isn’t a Wikipedia page for this series I thought I should write something about it here. This manga deserves to be read. Whether in the tankōbon volumes or on an online reader or whatever, it should be read!
It’s a sports manga, centred on the sport of ski jumping in Japan. Now I really love sport mangas, especially when you really get a very close insight to the training and not just the just lives of the characters. But I like them better when the main protagonist has drive. Nononono’s main protagonist is a girl who’s cross-dressing as a guy so that she can fulfil her family’s dreaming of winning a gold medal at the Olympics. She has to dress as a guy because there is no competition for women’s ski-jumping.
I mean sure Yuuta Nonomiya is really cocksure at the start, and that really bothered me. I thought at first, great, this is one of those. But then, there was fragility. You see ‘Yuuta Nonomiya’ is actually ‘Nono Nonomiya’, the twin. Nono is pretending to be her brother, who had died the year before. Later in the volumes, you find out her backstory, and honestly! – it is completely heartwrenching. I really felt the horror of Nono’s suffering. I really understood why she was doing what she was doing. Lynn Okamoto did a very good job with telling the backstory. I have to say, I was so impressed, I can’t wait for the next chapters.
But Nono never loses sight of her goal. At one point, it seems like she does, but then, she gets it back again. Through further understanding and development as a character, Nono grows in this series. When I learnt about her reason for becoming her brother, it also made me want to win that gold medal. And it made me love her character more despite some annoyances about her character. Like how she’s unnaturally cocky, but then again, this is probably one of the first manga’s I’ve read where the character is actually good at what she’s doing and at the same time, a likable character.
Nono Nonomiya begins uncomfortably, a character whose not quite sure of her character, but as the series progresses, she grows. And though she’s perceived as a girly kind of kind, it’s clear that she still wants to be a girl. A trait that not only can hinder her prospects at ski-jumping, but sometimes can get annoying (since she cries a bit too much).
As for the supporting characters, Kishitani is a great kid, while at first, after he discovers Nono’s secret, he’s a little strange (and strange is a euphemism here for how he actually acts, since if I say more it will give it away). Amatsu doesn’t know her secret and he’s the cleverest of the group. But still he respects her (even though he still thinks she’s a he) as a ski-jumper. As for Kourogi, she’s very supportive of Yuuta/Nono even though Nono acts strange sometimes because of her gender (which Kourogi also doesn’t know about). Then there are the other characters that come into play such as Shiriya (or Emperor as he likes to be called), Sora (Yuuta’s girlfriend, who knows Nono’s secret) and, though I’m not sure, but I want to put his name here too, Maoka, a guy who was beating constantly by Nono when he was younger, despite being two years her senior. Maoka chases after Nono in the air, and as of chapter , (I think) he’s aware of Nono’s identity. There is also the sport’s journalist named Yoda who helps Nono keep her secret even though she didn’t want to accept his help in the first place. But at the same time there are characters who find out about Nono’s identity who are willing to blackmail her for it.
While there is a cast of other interesting characters, a dramatic (sometimes a little overdramatic, but realistic enough and very character orientated, so I still like it) and action packed, the art is not too bad either. In fact Okamoto’s art and panel flow is easy to follow.
I’ll say, I cannot wait to see the end of this. I can imagine it will be both very dramatic and gratifying and for once, I will say I don’t mind drama much at all (but only just this once, since it’s Nononono).