As a Valentine’s Day treat, let’s talk about one of my favorite shojo one-shots, Hatsukoi Rhapsody by Aoyama Haruno. If you’re a fan of High School Debut, Dreamin’ Sun, or Kimi ni Todoke, this short story might be for you.
While stressing over her poor mock entrance exam scores, Abe meets Fujiwara, the unsociable transfer student, at the local library. But he’s not as antisocial as he appears to be. In fact, he’s actually a really sweet guy, if just a little shy.
Soon the two strike up a quiet friendship that lasts until graduation. Fujiwara, blushing fiercely, tells Abe to meet him after the ceremony. Not knowing what to expect, she looks for him, only to discover that he’s gone, leaving behind a keychain and a letter thanking her for their time together.
A year passes by before the two meet again. Their friendship picks up like before, with them studying at the library and walking home together. This time though, Abe wants to be more than friends… ♥︎
What happens next? Well, you need to find out for yourself! (♡´౪`♡)
—— Slight spoilers to follow ——
The “first love” (初恋 – hatsukoi) trope is a staple in shojo manga. Hatsukoi is often considered one of the purest forms of love, as it’s the first time a person truly experiences romantic feelings for another.
The kanji for koi (恋) translates to “love,” though its meaning slightly differs from the other character for love, ai (愛). Koi conveys a feeling of romantic longing or desire towards a specific person, while ai is more of a general term for love.
In Hatsukoi Rhapsody, Abe’s endearing crush on Fujiwara definitely fits the bill for a hatsukoi type of attraction (hence the title!). Despite the distance between them, Abe’s love for Fujiwara never wavered. She always went back to the library, hoping to run into him. She kept the keychain he gave her as a reminder of their friendship. And, most importantly of all, she deeply regretted not sharing her feelings with him.
It wouldn’t be a shojo manga without a love confession. Hatsukoi Rhapsody taps into the culture surrounding love confessions, as both characters deal with the all-too-relatable struggle of self-doubt.
Fujiwara planned on confessing to Abe after the graduation ceremony, but when he overheard her playfully dismissing their relationship with her friends, he chickened out. And honestly, who can blame him? Telling someone how you feel is a big deal!
As for Abe, she too gets scared at the prospect of confessing. She’s totally afraid of rejection; after assuming Fujiwara has been talking to a girl on LINE, Abe decides not to confess in order to keep their friendship intact.
But, in true shojo fashion, Abe’s first love gets the best of her, driving her to confess and in turn learning that Fujiwara has felt the same way all along.
Hatsukoi Rhapsody may have the hallmarks of a typical shojo romance, but on a day like today, it’s a pretty endearing read. Take a cue from Abe and live life without regrets!