Ginza Neon Paradise – Unohana
In 1940’s Japan during the war, long-time friends Aoi and Takahiko part ways as Takahiko is enlisted. For years, Aoi stayed in their hometown with the looming worry that his friend might not come back. He never received word from his friend and so he feared the worst. Now, Takahiko shows up all of a sudden and Aoi is not sure to what to make of this. Anger, relief, paid, all of these emotions overwhelm Aoi as he was certain his friend was gone because he never received a letter or any indication he was alive. Can the two reunite as friends or are they long past the point of friendship?
Ginza Neon Paradise is a historical, childhood friends to lovers drama set in post-war Japan with flashbacks to the war time period.
Aoi and Takahiko couldn’t be more different from each other. One was a serious bookworm who later became an interpreter for the American army, the other was a carefree womanizer who was disinherited by his grandfather.
The two were separated when Takahiko was drafted. After 3 years of radio silence, the solder finally showed his face and was now an actor.
I called Takahiko carefree but he’s really a callous good-for-nothing who trampled all over his friend. He lives with Aoi and frequently comes home smelling of booze and women’s perfume. He put Aoi through a wringer. The man was one of my least liked seme.
I preferred the kind-hearted American Lieutenant Walter, Aoi’s boss, to the deadbeat Takahiko but alas, Aoi’s heart was forever loyal to his friend. Takahiko did redeem himself at the end. But barely. There was even a ridiculous fight because he was jealous about Lt. Walter’s attention towards Aoi. Tsk! What an ass.
Unlikable love interests aside, this manga did a great job rendering a slow-burn, angsty, passionate love story amidst the backdrop of post-war Ginza. There were some liberties taken to eliminate homophobia but it retained most of the historical elements such as the bomb wreckage, poverty, shy interactions with the Americans, the glittering clubs, etc. My favorite part here was them walking around the city in the middle of the night just feeling the vibe. I always wanted to do that
All in all, this a sepia-tinted homage to a district that never lost its luster.