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Nighttime for Just Us Two Vol. 1

Manga and Anime

‘Nighttime for Just Us Two’ Vol. 1 review: A promising alien romcom

Girl meets boy. Boy gets possessed by alien. Actual boy is none too happy about it.

Among Kodansha’s latest crop of romcom series there’s one title that’s just a bit weirder than the others: Maki Miyoshi’s Nighttime for Just Us Two. The manga stars Miyako, a quiet high schooler who is often overlooked by her classmates. Late one night while relaxing by a river, she comes across her popular classmate Koga. He claims not to be Koga however, but rather an alien who occupies the same body and takes control while Koga sleeps. How does the series handle this bizarre premise, and does it make for a promising romance?

The subject of Miyako’s forgetability is broached quickly and humorously via several classmates in a row addressing her…each by a different name, and none of which is the right one. Beyond that, Miyoshi makes a smart choice with regards to how to reveal the correct name. Timid as she is, Miyako never bothers bothers to correct others and she doesn’t reveal her name in her narration (because realistically she’d have no reason to within her own thoughts). As a result the reader shares in Miyako’s surprise when another character calls her by the proper name for the first time.

That character? Koga, or rather the alien possessing him, who Miyako gives the nickname Chiro. Effectively differentiating between identical characters is a tough task, but Miyoshi pulls it off. It’s not just the ways Koga and Chiro speak that convey which is which; their body language and facial expressions are just as important. Though they share the exact same features, the contortions of their mouths and the intensity of their eyes are starkly different due to their opposite temperaments. Even in the rare occasions when Koga smiles or displays happiness it’s with a sadistic glint that sets him apart from his cheerier, more innocent alien counterpart.

Unfortunately, the art isn’t especially notable otherwise. It’s not bad by any means; events are consistently clear and easy to follow and there is some good visual comedy. With that said, there’s just not much in terms of unique style or impressive physical detail. The world as a whole lacks texture and the sense of depth is so-so, resulting in characters that don’t seem fully immersed in their environments. Aspects like these, as well as the ineffective screen tone usage, give the impression of an artist who possesses solid fundamental skills but lacks the experience necessary to have fully developed and honed out their own idiosyncrasies.

All this is largely forgivable however because the premise is handled so charmingly. The early establishment of Miyako’s loner status makes Chiro’s disruption of her status quo feel all the more impactful. As two socially inept but kind people, they develop a friendship that forces Miyako to grow and enter social situations (and by extension conflicts) that she never would have otherwise. These earnest moments are among the volume’s most enjoyable, and there are also great depictions of how awkward and further isolating attempts at socialization can sometimes be for shy people.

All in all, Nighttime for Just Us Two gets off to a good start. The protagonist is likable and well-written, and the premise actively forces her into new, difficult social situations. The dichotomy between Chiro and Koga is pronounced in their drastically different personalities and the ways they carry themselves, even if they look just alike. On the downside the series’ art lacks a unique point of view as well as the sense of depth necessary to make the world fully come to life. Nonetheless, this is a sweet debut volume that promises more feel-good reading to come.

Nighttime for Just Us Two Vol. 1
‘Nighttime for Just Us Two’ Vol. 1 review: A promising alien romcom
Nighttime for Just Us Two Vol. 1
A charming debut with likable characters and impressive artistic differentiation between identical characters.
Reader Rating0 Votes
The differentiation between Koga and Chiro is impressive
The plot effectively pushes Miyako into situations that spur character growth and development
The humor and overall earnestness make for a fun read
The manga's world lacks any sense of depth or texture
The art lacks unique flair or style, and some of the screen tone usage is a bit rudimentary

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