animefringe december 2003 / reviews

Erica Sakurazawa's Nothing But Loving You
Format: right-left manga
Production: TOKYOPOP / Erica Sakurazawa
Comments: Casual sex + homosexuals + regret = dramatic gold!
Animefringe Reviews:
Erica Sakurazawa's Nothing But Loving You

Every two months, I look forward to driving to the local bookstore, and coming home with new manga by josei* manga artist Erica Sakurazawa. TOKYOPOP, which has been releasing her manga since last spring, has published four compilations of her work so far, each being fairly individual and unique compared to her other pieces of sequential art.

Sakurazawa’s newest manga, "Nothing but Loving You", is the latest in TOKYOPOP's publishing venture, another brilliant yet melancholy piece detailing the lives of three men and a woman, trying to find happiness, love, and fulfillment in a city of fuzzy sexualities. While resembling "Between the Sheets", the atmosphere within "Nothing but Loving You" is markedly different, particularly more fatalistic, yet again using the space to discuss and showcase different sexualities and how they interact with the lives of Sakurazawa's characters.

Nanako Hashiguchi is a stylish, beautiful, and slender woman, whose face and body adorns multiple fashion magazines. Or at least, she used to. Fired from her modeling agency due to her wild and erratic lifestyle, she becomes a freewheeling agent, trying to find work and a new place to live before her former employers kick her out of her subsidized apartment. Within this atmosphere, she sleeps around with upcoming actor Mitsuhiko, who is totally smitten by Nanako, only to find a man much more suitable to her tastes, the stylish bishonen Etsushi.

Too bad he's gay. Well... sorta.

Nanako pursues Etsushi relentlessly, and truth be told, Etsushi starts to get into Nanako as well. Yet Etsushi can't bear to hurt his fragile boyfriend Shin. The two start a sexual relationship, causing some pretty rough repercussions for the trio. Shin starts to date girls, partially to get back at Etsushi, but also to attempt to understand why Etsushi would ever be interested in a woman. Etsushi is heartbroken with the possibility that Shin might leave him, and Nanako can't help but want Etsushi more and more, even when it becomes evident that Etsushi's heart belongs to Shin.

Man, I love josei comics.

No one really gets what they want. The manga ends with the characters in a very realistic place: attempting to find their way with what they have. Sakurazawa again pushes past the basic dramatic fantasy of the tantalizing romantic threesome and drives home the repercussions of the liaisons we may go through in our lives. Each character does come through the experience stronger, but with a twinge of regret and longing in its wake. "Nothing but Loving You" is both hopeful and harsh, a formula that Sakurazawa carefully constructs and executes fabulously. As I close the pages, all I can do is count down the days till another one of her manga comes out. Only two more months to go.

* Josei is a term used to differentiate media aimed specifically towards women in their 20s.