Tuesday, August 3, 2021

REVIEW: La Esperança (manga, vol. 2) by Chigusa Kawai, translated by Sachiko Sato

La Esperança is a school drama series with light BL romance elements. It was licensed by Digital Manga Publishing and appears to be out of print now. I bought my copy of this volume used.

This review includes spoilers.


Ever since meeting Robert, Georges has started to open up a little. He's always been friendly but a little unapproachable. While his friend Henri appreciates the changes he's noticing in Georges, it bothers him that Robert was the one to inspire them. Does Georges really view him, Henri, as a true friend, or would he act just as friendly with anyone else?

Next is a story about Georges meeting a boy named Chris who works for a charity. Robert and others warn Georges that the charity Chris works for is really a front for a group that's up to no good, but Chris seems like such a nice guy that Georges can't bring himself to doubt him.

After that are two stories still set in the same world, but starring, I think, very minor characters from the main story. Erwin accidentally runs into a girl named Cecile, who becomes convinced that he's her soulmate. The volume wraps up with a story about Erwin's friend Joshua, who has an unrequited crush on the dorm Patron.

I foolishly thought that volume 2 would continue on from where volume 1 left off, but no. Instead of digging more into Robert's baggage and whatever similarities he saw between the girl he knew and Georges, or in any way focusing more on Robert and Georges' interest in each other, a quarter of the volume dealt with Henri, a quarter of the volume with Georges and some entirely new character, and half the volume focused on a completely new set of characters. It's the kind of thing I might have expected to see near the end of this 7-volume series but not in volume 2.

Thankfully, I wasn't particularly attached to the primary story threads introduced in volume 1, but it was still a very confusing way for this series to continue. The best part of the volume was probably Henri's story, which developed his character a little more and showed him struggling with jealousy and hurt over whatever was brewing between Georges and Robert.

Unfortunately, things just went downhill from there. The story with Georges and Chris wasn't necessarily bad but felt like a waste of pages. Chris wasn't being introduced as a new recurring character, so the entire point seemed to be that Robert's automatic cynicism was smarter than Georges' idealism and trust.

As for the story with Cecile and Erwin, I'll grudgingly give the author points for including a prominent female character whose purpose wasn't to be the fujoshi who squealed over the possibility of the two guy characters getting together. However, aside from that I really didn't like her. Her first reaction, when she heard that Erwin and Joshua might be a couple, was disgust. She hurled homophobic insults at them and stormed off, only apologizing after she learned that Erwin really wasn't gay and in fact was a bit interested in her. And even then, she only apologized to Erwin and not Joshua, who was actually gay. Speaking of which, what kind of friend was Erwin, getting together with a girl like Cecile? I wouldn't have blamed Joshua for being hurt and angry at that particular pairing.

The final story wasn't awful in the way I was braced for, but it still wasn't great. Joshua had a crush on the dorm Patron (dorm parent, I guess?), a much older man. The Patron didn't encourage this, thankfully, and was actually completely clueless about Joshua's feelings. Instead of just being a story about a boy struggling with an unrequited crush, however, it turned into an exploration of the roots of that crush. 

Spoilers from here on out: basically, Joshua unknowingly connected the Parton's kindness and comfortingly large hand patting his head with memories of his beloved grandfather. Realizing this completely threw Joshua off. Was he really in love with the Patron, or did he just long for comforting adult? I'm not sure he exactly settled on an answer, but one of the conclusions he seemed to come to was that he had a fetish for guys with large hands. The story ended with him deciding to go after a younger guy with large hands, and uhh...okay. 

This is the last volume in this series that I own, and that doesn't bug me in the slightest. I won't be continuing on with this series.


The volume has a removable jacket. The cover underneath includes some extra artwork and a one-page extra comic in which a bunch of characters freak out after Erwin catches a cold. There's also a 2-page afterword by the author, which includes four more character profiles.

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