|Original review author:||SpazzticBunnyhood|
|Webcomic name:||Mouichido Rendezvous (Literally Translated: Once Again Rendezvous) (Hosting site Smackjeeves has been shut down.)|
|Author:||Ki Hiwatari or Hiwatari Ki (Hiwatari being the family name)|
|Start Date:||July 1, 2015. Oh yes, he IS still active.|
|End Date:||Not soon enough—I mean January 31, 2016.|
|Genre:||I DARE you to guess.|
|Defining Flaw:||Having another comic to compare it with.|
I originally found out about the works of Mr. Hiwatari through the article on this site by crookedglasses dedicated to Ki’s Webcomic Contradiction. I loved the article so much that I HAD to check out the comic, and it is still one of my favourite articles here. However, when I finished reading the comic, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness after such entertaining insanity. Either that, or it was indigestion. But, lo and behold! In the sidebar is a list of other comics by this insane little mastermind! And so, out of morbid curiosity, yearning for the insanity that was Contradiction, and a bit too much boredom, here is my binge read of Hiwatari’s Other Comics!
This comic made me regret this decision.
This comic’s downfall is that I read I Wanna Give You Your Smile first. I’ll go into more detail in a second. Also, I began to roll my eyes when the Hiwatari Stu showed up this time around.
Story and Plot
After an entire page dedicated to letting us know that you read this comic Left to Right for a change (thanks, Mr. Hiwatari; I forgot how to read), our tale begins in proper.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Yume Asatsuki who gives a random kid some Melon Bread, and comes home to discover that her dad committed suicide. Years later, Yume is a hardened High School Student, who hates Naoki Nagazawa, the most popular guy in school. This is because she blames his family for her father’s death. But Naoki seems to have a thing for Yume, because (super obvious) plot twist: He is actually the kid she gave Melon Bread to and—
Wait a minute… This I Wanna Give You Your Smile!
Okay, so, I was going to talk about it later, but now I kinda have to. There’s a comic on Mr. Hiwatari’s SmackJeeves account called “笑顔を君にあげたい(Egao wo Kimi ni Agetai)” or “I Wanna Give You Your Smile (presumably ‘back’)”. Mr. Hiwatari wrote the comic, while getting user Krazeh Kai to do the art. And the plot goes a little something like this…
Once upon a time there was a girl named Yume Asatsuki who gives a random kid some Melon Bread in her youth, only for her dad to kill himself, leaving her and her mother alone. Years later, Yume is a hardened High School Student, who hates Naoki Nagazawa, the most popular guy in school. This is because she blames his family for her father’s death. But Naoki seems to have a thing for Yume because (super obvious) plot twist: He is actually the kid she gave Melon Bread to, all those years ago! (At least…I’m assuming that’s what the plot twist is, since the comic never got farther than chapter two.)
I was going to save I Wanna Give You Your Smile for my last review, since I have some good things to say about it and wanted to end this marathon on a positive note. Except, now I HAVE to mention it because Mouichido Rendezvous is borderline IDENTICAL. No joke. I wish I could show you guys my notes when reading this comic for the first time, because there was serious déjà vu going on.
Also, I’ll be calling the general plot of these two comics the Melon Bread Story for clarity, since Melon Bread is a plot device in both of them. (Though, this is robs me of the chance to call Yume “Little Miss Melon Bread”. But it’s a sacrifice I must make so things don’t get confusing.)
Alright, lemme start from the top. The Melon Bread Story starts off with Yume, as a little girl, giving Melon Bread to this random kid before tragedy strikes. In I Wanna Give You Your Smile, this all takes place in a 15 Page Prologue, giving Little!Yume some nice, juicy character development. But Mr. Hiwatari decides that he can do without all of that useless padding, and we get we get 4 Pages of condensed melodramatic narration in Mouichido Rendezvous. Because, heaven forbid! We wouldn’t want our audience getting emotionally invested in our protagonist! That would just be silly!
Now, Yume’s all grown up. In I Wanna Give You Your Smile, here’s where she starts her melodramatic narration—still corny, but it shows the contrast between the person Yume used to be and the person Yume became. In Mouichido Rendezvous, we’re still continuing this melodramatic narration from before, so not only are we not attached to Yume, but the contrast between Little!Yume and HighSchool!Yume is far less prominent.
Now, our love interest is introduced, and our protagonist’s opinion of him. In I Wanna Give You Your Smile, Naoki is built up for three pages (thus invoking the reader’s curiosity), leading to a big reveal from a dramatic angle. In Mouichido Rendezvous he’s tacked on to the end of Yume’s internal monologue, and just flat out shown at the bottom of the page.
Okay, if I’m going to actually talk about the plot of the Melon Bread Story, I have to stop comparing the two side by side. But I could do this for every page of Mouichido Rendezvous up until Page 11.
So Yume doesn’t like Naoki, blah blah. Then, out of left field, a Hiwatari Stu appears—because we apparently needed one of those—and becomes a new love interest for Yume. A creepy stalker love interest, no less! (Ahhhh! Memory Fragments Flashbacks!)
Yume is called down to the Staff Office because her mom is in the hospital. So, naturally, Mr. Hiwatari sets the mood by sprinkling Comedic Chibis everywhere. (Ahhhh! Turbulence Flashbacks!) Naoki tags along because whhhyyyyyyyyy not.
At the hospital, they refused to give Yume’s mom a regular hospital bed, and some poor sap dragged a wooden one into the building. After talking with a really uninformative nurse, Naoki decides this is the perfect time to make the moves on Yume.
Later, the Hiwatari Stu actually shows some proper condolence for what Yume’s been going through (more so than Yume) and gives her a Study Guide. (Ahhhh! Oshietekudasai Flashbacks!) This would be the kindest gesture anyone has shown Yume thus far, except that the Hiwatari Stu is actually ~~eeeevviilll~~, meaning the Study Guide is rigged somehow. So Naoki becomes Yume’s Knight in Shining Armour by storming into the hospital and rips up the Study Guide without offering her any explanation. Who's the jerk here, again?
Then Naoki thinks it’s a good time to reveal the plot twist, because she’s TOTALLY OPEN TO LISTENING TO HIM right now! And Yume just mindlessly forgives him since she is nothing but a tool in her own story.
Excuse me for a moment.
This comic has all the proportion issues found in Contradiction. In the interest of not repeating—okay, you get the point.
plarblman wrote an editorial on the forums called The Importance of Writing over Art. I agree with what they had to say—however, you could not find a more perfect example of how big a difference a good artist can make. With that said, now it’s time for me to tear apart the terrible art of Mouichido Rendezvous.
- Failed Facial Expressions
In Oshietekudasai’s Art Review, I mentioned how Mr. Hiwatari seems to have a limited range of expressions he can draw. I’m so glad I didn’t go into more detail there because HOLY CRAP, Mouichido Rendezvous is littered with this problem! I’m serious—Yume seems to be unable to express the correct emotion half of the time.
So, without further ado, here is a montage of all the incorrect facial expressions Yume makes throughout Mouichido Rendezvous.
I think that speaks for itself.
- Terrible Pacing
Mr. Hiwatari can’t pace scenes worth a darn. This might seem like something to put under the writing review, but I’ve already got a lot I wanna talk about there, and I think the subject is more appropriate here. Having worked with comics, physical and digital art, writing, and video editing, I can tell you that pacing works differently in each medium. There can be quite a bit of overlap, yes, but if you think you can directly translate something from one medium to the other, then I’ll point to decades of failed book-to-movie adaptations that prove otherwise.
With that said, Mr. Hiwatari doesn’t have a good grasp of pacing in comics. Pacing is especially tricky in comics, since you have to consider a lot more variables than in other mediums: Frame Layout, Frame Size, Frame Shape, Speech Bubble Placement, Speech Bubble Shape/Style, how many Plot Points to put in one Page/Frame, etc. If any one of these factors is off by a fraction, then the entire page can feel off. (This is why I’m willing to go relatively easy on panels with wonky proportions—if everything else works, it doesn’t really matter.)
And this is why I Wanna Give You Your Smile is light years ahead of Mouichido Rendezvous. While the content reeks of a typical Hiwatari Comic’s Plot, Krazeh Kai nailed everything else. If you told me I Wanna Give You Your Smile was a professionally made comic with a team of cartoonists behind it, I would believe you. And perhaps this is what makes Mouichido Rendezvous so infuriating—I got a window into what a Hiwatari Comic could potentially look like if it didn't suck. And I feel ripped off.
Allow me to tackle the Various Problems in The Melon Bread Stories:
- Mr. Pointlessly Popular
Why did Naoki have to be the most popular guy in school? Like, I mentioned Mr. Hiwatari’s habit of focusing more on a character’s financial/social/academic status in my review of Blue Love, but there is no actual reason for Naoki to be so perfect. The story could have just as easily made him a regular guy, and it’d still be possible to have all the “drama” that has been built up so far.
- It Can’t Be! You’re—Uh… What’s Your Name Again?
Naoki is all wistful because Yume MIGHT BE the girl who gave him Melon Bread as a kid, because they have the same name. But he met this girl once, and she told him her name twice in the span of ten seconds. How does he remember her name after all these years? Sure, some people have a knack for remembering names, but this still seems very unlikely.
- I Met Her Once! Gasp!
Okay, assuming that he DOES remember her name, why does he act all wistful about the revelation that they’re the same person? Hiwatari Clichés aside, she just gave him a piece of bread—she didn’t save him from falling off of an off screen cliff or anything. Sure, he ran away from home and was probably hungry, but it’s not like he was starving and had nowhere to go. If Naoki were a real person, and not a protagonist from a Hiwatari comic, he would be all like “wait a sec, Yume? Duuuuddde! You totally gave me Melon Bread when we were younger! High five!”
ElephantHiwatari Stu In the Room
Why, why, why, why, why, why, WHY did Mouichido Rendezvous need a Hiwatari Stu Love Rival? Okay, even if we assume that he was going to be a thing in I Wanna Give You Your Smile, there is still no reason for him to exist. I mean, you already have enough drama, what with the whole possibly suicidal mother thing. Did Mr. Hiwatari really think a story wasn’t complete if it didn’t include the whole Bubbly One, Boy Next Door, and Loner love triangle? And the Stu just ended up being a twirly mustache villain anyway. It’s like Turbulence all over again, except Naoki isn’t abusive…just kinda creepy. (Although, I will admit that it is refreshing to see the Hiwatari Stu coming across as the creep instead of the Boy Next Door. Granted, they’re both giving off creeper vibes, so take that as you will.)
- World’s Worst Nurse?
The hospital Yume’s mom goes to is terrible. The daughter of the comatose patient walks in, and the nurse is all smiles and sunshine. I was told that receptionists at doctors’ offices don’t smile because if a suicidal person walks in and sees the receptionist smiling, they might turn around and kill themselves instead of getting help. Even if you don’t believe that’s true, it’s still really terrible how this nurse is like “oh! You’re the daughter of the woman who might have attempted suicide off screen? Lol.” Also, the next page isn’t much better. “However, we don’t know when she will wake up. The only thing we can do currently is to wait and pray”? Wow. Way to make the patient’s daughter feel better. Also, no diagnosis? Not even an estimated time of “come back later in a couple of hours” or “expect her to wake up in two to three weeks”? That’s…really inept. It’s a miracle this lady hasn’t lost her job yet.
- Thanks for the Traumatic Reminder!
In Mouichido Rendezvous, Naoki gets Yume some Melon Bread to help cheer her up. Apart from this comic not understanding the gravity of the situation it presented, why does this work? In this version, Yume’s dad killed himself the same day Yume gave Naoki some of dat bread. “Whenever I felt happy as a kid, I used to buy them. However, I have stopped doing so after father’s death.” Of course you did! Melon Bread is a reminder of a traumatic experience you had! By all rights, they should bring back painful memories whenever they’re mentioned! Sure, she’s had some time to adjust, but something like that scars you for life. (I would give you a real life example of this, but I don’t want to depress all of you more than these comics already have.) Either way, why is Yume all like “Melon Bread? Mkay!”? This doesn’t make any sense!
- I Will Explain Everything Unrelated to What I Need to Explain!
After the Hiwatari Stu gives Yume the study notes, Naoki says that he “will tell her the truth” because the study guide is probably rigged with wrong answers. That would be fine…except that he walks into the hospital room and rips it up without explaining himself at all. Of course she’s gonna hate you, you jerk! She just said “The Nice Senpai I told you about before lent me some notes today. Now I can have more time to be with you”! Yeah, those notes were gonna give her a terrible grade, but she didn’t know that! Now she can kiss her time with her HOSPITALIZED MOTHER goodbye! And the explanation he does give is the completely unrelated fact that he was the kid she gave Melon Bread to, all those years ago. Okay, cool. You built a bakery in her honor. But that doesn’t help her pass her exams or get that time back with her mother. Jerk.
- Mother In the Refrigerator
Mouichido Rendezvous handles Yume’s mother TERRIBLY. Okay, in the Melon Bread Story, Yume’s mom is Yume’s main motivation to do well in school and get a part time job. I Wanna Give You Your Smile realizes this, and gives four whole pages of the prologue solely dedicated to developing her and her relationship with Yume. Therefore, when Yume’s mom loses her job, it’s that much more heartbreaking. Yet, in Mouichido Rendezvous Yume’s mother is actually HOSPITALIZED and put in a COMA, and I feel nothing. Why? Because she only appears in 5 Panels in the entire 32 Page comic! And that’s including a panel where you only see her hand! And the scene of Yume watching over her mother in the hospital is broken up by a scene of Yume and Naoki making goo-goo eyes at each other, and establishing that our Hiwatari Stu is evil.
Do I really need to explain why this angers me?
Alright, that’s it. Yume’s mom is all but shoved into the refrigerator during Mouichido Rendezvous. She wasn’t killed, sure, but she might as well be, considering how she’s comatose for most of it, and just used as flimsy pity bait.
I don't really have anything to say that I haven't said already about Mr. Hiwatari. If you want to know my opinions, then read the Le Diable and My Sparkling Prince-sama reviews. Though, I suppose I add a bit more in the Conclusion section.
This was the only Hiwatari comic that legitimately angered me. Sure, Turbulence was offensive, Memory Fragments was creepy, and Blue Love rubbed me the wrong way, but with those comics I didn’t have a much better comic with an identical premise to compare them with! This was just…AAAAUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!
Comparing the two comics shows just how much of a poser Mr. Hiwatari actually is. Even I was beginning to think I was being too hard on him before these two comics smacked some sense into me. In contrast to I Wanna Give You Your Smile, Mouichido Rendezvous just becomes inexcusably bad. (Need I remind you how the 15 Page Prologue of one comic was condensed into 4 Pages in the other?)
I won’t pretend I Wanna Give You Your Smile was perfect. It had Mr. Hiwatari’s fingerprints all over it. However, I Wanna Give You Your Smile’s saving grace was its pitch perfect pacing and beautiful visuals. In I Wanna Give You Your Smile, I felt Yume’s struggle. In Mouichido Rendezvous, I felt NOTHING except seething frustration. Krazeh Kai knew what she was doing—she knew what the story’s strengths were, focused on them, and expanded on them. But in Mr. Hiwatari’s rendition, it just felt like he wanted to get the story over with as soon as possible. In I Wanna Give You Your Smile, I believed that Yume hated Naoki. In Mouichido Rendezvous, I did not. And in the former, I actually found myself wanting to see Yume and Naoki get together, and Yume to help her mother find happiness. Heck, in Mouichido Rendezvous, the Hiwatari Stu being a lying jerk was treated with more gravity than the main character’s mother being hospitalized. Just let that sink in for a moment.
I can understand that maybe Krazeh Kai quit, and Mr. Hiwatari didn’t want to leave the comic unfinished, so he drew the rest himself…but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here. If that was what he wanted to do, he would have uploaded all the pages Krazeh Kai did, and then post his own pages afterward—both on Tapastic and SmackJeeves. However, I Wanna Give You Your Smile is SmackJeeves exclusive (and unfinished), while Mouichido Rendevous is Tapastic exclusive (and was finished back on January 31, 2016). This, to me, comes across like he’s ashamed of the comic Krazeh Kai did, and wanted to pretend it didn’t exist while HE made the quintessential version.
Mr. Hiwatari…how do you continue to lower my opinion of you?
Although, I just checked out a comment left on the last page of Mouichido Rendezvous, and, according to Mr. Hiwatari…
Okkkaaaaay… That changes a lot of what I said in this review and makes the condensed nature of this comic slightly more excusable. But why did you think it’d be a good idea to tell such a complicated story (suicidal dads, emotionally unstable mothers, unnecessary love triangles, oh my!) for a contest with a 32 Page limit? And why did you and Krazeh Kai even bother to make I Wanna Give You Your Smile?
I'm so confused.
Mouichido Rendezvous sucks.
And the next time I see a loaf of Melon Bread, I'm going to punch it in the face.
And then eat it.
Because that bread is tasty.
UPDATE: Hosting site Smackjeeves is gone, and this webcomic died with it.
Other comics by this person reviewed on this site
- Blue Love
- Le Diable
- Memory Fragments
- My Sparkling Prince-sama