A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 6 by Makoto Hagino {Manga Review}

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 6 by Makoto Hagino (Tropical Fish / Nettaigyo wa Yuki ni Kogareru #6)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Pages: 178

Available through The Book Depository

Summary: Koyuki and Konatsu have both started to see the other as important, but they’re still unable to be honest about their feelings. This leads to frustrating days when they’re never in sync, and they begin to drift apart. Then one day Konatsu sees Koyuki and her classmate Kaede spending time together as if they’re the best of friends, and she can’t contain her agitation. Konatsu and Koyuki feel so strongly about each other that they feel uneasy even when there’s nothing to worry about.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 6 continues it’s plot at slow, gradual pace similar to the previous couple installments making for a quiet yet equally poignant story about loneliness, friendship and those growing pains as a teen. The way Hagino explores themes of loneliness and anxiety are told with such care in a realistic, relatable, metaphorical way that is explored deeper with each volume. Konatsu and Koyuki each grapple with their own personal challenges as they begin spring break. Character-driven and emotionally impactful, this volume gets darker, but hints at their relationship developing (hopefully) as the series reaches its finale!

A Tropical Fish is probably one the first longer contemporary manga series I’ve read yet with each volume, despite the plot weaving back and forth through the layered concept of loneliness explored through the main characters Konatsu and Koyuki, each one explores the complexities of those feelings in such a profound way that reminds me each time why this is one of my favorite mangas.

Konatsu has mostly settled Nagahama since the series began and has established a friendship with fellow classmate Kaede Hirose, who is the more outgoing, bubbly one between all 3 of the girls. However, since seeing Koyuki and Hirose hang out together in the previous volume, Konatsu can’t help but feel a pang of hurt in wondering how the two girls had been so close (if they even had been the entire time). This becomes such a big overarching element brought to light particularly in this volume but also something to reflect on in previous ones…the idea that anxiety (coupled with fear of communication) can spin situations into something their not. That part of this volume hit so hard, especially as someone who was shy and suffered anxiety during hs.

Konatsu wants to be happy for her Aquarium Club leader/friend Koyuki, but can’t help but feel like her relationship with Koyuki is changing and ultimately, fading away. It becomes heartbreaking in a way when Koyuki, who (in her mind and sometimes out loud) talks to the aquarium animals, Konatsu wonders, why Koyuki won’t talk to her.

In the beginning of the series, I wasn’t entirely sure about my feelings on Hirose’s character, but in this volume (as with the last 2 from what I remember), she genuinely has fun hanging out with both Konatsu & Koyuki, seeing not only their deep friendship, but also how they struggle to come out of their shells. She was like a beacon, almost guiding the girls back to each other, but also an uplifting presence among Konatsu and Koyuki’s emotionally heavy point’s of view. Yet, realistically I understood that Kaede was aware it wasn’t entirely her place to fix their problems, but just her acknowledgement has made her such a pivotal character in the series for me personally. For those who are shy, it always means a lot when a friend or acquaintance knows it & makes them feel more included. Such is the case in this volume when Konatsu is invited by Kaede to hang-out for lunch, while Koyuki attends a senior lunch & karaoke with her classmates.

Koyuki is preparing for her final semester of high school before leaving for university, she’s still figuring out what she wants to do and realistically, is just going through the motions as that final year seems to go by in almost a blur. The series doesn’t shy away from showing the endless support that Koyuki’s parents have and her younger brother, Fuyuki, which is such a memorable part of this series.

Its obvious Konatsu and Koyuki don’t really want to drift away from each other, but can’t seem to find the right moment to pour out their feelings. I’m left with hope that they’ll find a way as I dive into the final 3 volumes. So story-wise, this volume leans heavily more on the emotional sides of the characters, which I’m all here for don’t get me wrong, but at times it can be frustrating because despite the progress in the earlier volumes, it feels like their friendship/relationship feels rather stuck at this point, unless they have that pivotal moment where they can finally speak to each other. However, without a doubt, the emotional weight and themes of the story are so compelling to explore.

Hagino’s artwork delves deeper into the metaphorical with the water and ocean motifs in this volume, that especially highlights Konatsu’s loneliness in a poetic way, while Koyuki’s is more through words or internal dialogue. I’m interested to see how the artwork explores more of the emotions of the characters as the series goes on. My favorite element of the art is how introspective and detailed it is.

As you can probably tell, I think what made me rate this a 4 is that the development in the books has almost paused as it explores the emotional layers of the main characters. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how their journey’s wrap-up despite the pacing so far.

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a quiet, character-driven manga series that follows two girls exploring their loneliness, friendship and complicated relationship, through quite an emotionally moving story. From the metaphorical artwork, slower-paced plot and themes from loneliness to friendship, this is an underrated manga series sure to leave you thinking!

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