Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for Three Days of Happiness, or Jumyou wo Kaitotte Moratta. Ichinen ni Tsuki, Ichimanen de. It’s a short manga at 18 chapters and you can find a full english scanlation of the manga online, and I think it’s pretty good. I don’t think the best parts of the manga are really spoiled in this post, but nevertheless I’m a firm believer of complete spoiler-freeness.
If you want to read the blurb, you can check the profile on anilist here: https://anilist.co/manga/97553/ . Despite what the title may lead you to believing, it’s a romance that has its wholesome and nice moments.
Also, this manga is an adaptation of a novel, but I’ve only read the manga so I’ll be discussing explicitly that, though this post is just my thoughts on the plot so I imagine it will probably apply to the novel as well.
Do you remember in specific detail, your best friends in elementary school? Do you remember the stupid throwaway promises you made as a kid? Are your experiences with your elementary school friends the ones you remember most and hold most close to your heart? Are you still in love with your crush from years and years ago in elementary school?
If you’re the protagonist of a shitty anime/manga/visual novel, then the answer to this is most likely yes.
Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai
Shit like this seems so common in anime stories, and it bothers me quite a bit. Maybe I had a really poor childhood, but I have extremely vague and a general lack of memories from primary school, and I especially have no feelings for anyone that I had liked before. Life very clearly moves on, but it doesn’t seem to for anime characters. It really breaks my suspension of disbelief, and I find it quite difficult to believe that these characters really have been holding onto their memories as a 10 year old until high school while seemingly having a perfectly fulfilling teenager life. Instead, what seems more likely to me is that the author just thought of some childhood backstory/past life experience for high school characters, and didn’t think much about how their experiences and life since then may have impacted them.
It really feels ridiculous, especially when a character has been living on some promise they made as a kid to marry another girl, and has been avoiding contact with other girls or something because of it. Sometimes the author tries to address this by slightly ridiculing the character, but it never felt effective and still broke my suspension of disbelief.
This characteristic is not a deal-breaker for me by any means though, especially when a character has more sides to them than just this. But it definitely bothers me when relationships are given a head start because of this kind of stupid reasoning.
On the first few panels of Three Days of Happiness, it seems like it’s going to be about the same thing. There’s a bit of unusualness in how they refer to themselves as ‘fellow people left on the shelf,’ but ultimately it’s the same thing.
However, as I read through the manga, I quickly began to become convinced that this manga was going to be (or at least partially involve) a critique of the stupid childhood friend promise trope.
First, the reasons and circumstances for the male MC, Kusunoki, to be thinking back on the promise makes more sense and is more believable than most.
He’s a college drop-out loser who’s unemployed, and at such a poor financial situation that he’s begun to sell his treasured CD and book collection for money. He lives a lonely, boring and miserable life and when offered the opportunity to give up 30 years of his 30 years and 3 month remaining life span, he takes the opportunity with little hesitation.
It’s unclear throughout the manga what his life was like between when he met Himeno, his childhood female friend, but looking at his demeanor, his general lookout on life, his personality, and the rare moments of Kusunoki’s past that we see, it’s easy to believe that nothing generally went well for him.
We also find out that Kusunoki literally has no friends. Not due to some stupid childhood promise he made, but rather because he has a shitty personality. He’s alone and has nothing going for his life and no one to rely on, and so it makes sense that at this point in his life, he might turn to anything resembling a good memory from his past and someone that he got along with, even if it’s from elementary school.
And this is all really good! Even if it’s the same shit about going back to past memories, it makes so much more sense and it’s believable because of the context that’s built up by the author. It was quite refreshing to see someone who I could genuinely believe would be looking back to a promise he made with a grade school classmate, just from the bleakness of his situation.
And more than anything, the feelings he has are one-sided! We’re directly told by a character who has (seemingly) close to psychic levels of knowledge and knows all events that will happen in the future.
Kusunoki gets shocked for obvious reasons, and this was definitely great and what really differentiated this manga between others that have the same trope. The fact that this loser guy is holding on to a promise he made in his childhood because it’s some of the only good memories that he has is good, and it’s so much more effective and meaningful because the other person does not remember it at all, like a normal person!
The fact that Himeno doesn’t even remember the promise, let alone has been reminiscing and keeping that promise, is really important because it’s what makes this story feel like a realistic take on the childhood promise trope.
And so thank god that they made Himeno not remember it.
It’d be really shit if they didn’t after all, right?
One of the twists that is revealed later on is that Himeno actually did remember Kusunoki. She became pregnant as a teenager and is currently a struggling single mom, who in the future commits suicide. There was an extremely brief time period in which Himeno and Kusunoki exchanged very few letters which stopped quickly, and it’s revealed that those letters were meant to be her implicitly asking for help, which went completely over Kusunoki’s head. Miyagi(the one who tells Kusunoki that Himeno doesn’t remember him or the promise) knew it’d hurt Kusunoki when he found out, which is why she lied.
Don’t get me wrong. That’s a pretty good twist, and I enjoyed it for the twist and the impact that it had. It also makes Kusunoki seme like an even bigger failure since knowing this twist, he really did fuck up, though I don’t think there is much blame to place on him.
That being said…
Ultimately the fact that both Himeno and Kusunoki remembered the promise and that ultimately they were holding onto it, in my opinion, really cheapens what I believed the manga did quite well. Because in the end, both of them do remember the promise. The twist brings the manga down from a critique on the trope so a slightly more realistic and tragic take on it, and I think it’s a bit of a shame.
However, this didn’t bring the manga completely down for me, since there were definitely other things going for it, and I don’t think that critiquing the trope was the primary purpose of this story, though I think it was a relatively big element of Kusunoki’s initial character. I found myself enjoying it especially in the later parts when Kusunoki stopped with his idiotic bickering about his pessimistic thoughts on life, and the manga took steps to be wholesome with an impeding sense of tragedy since both the audience and characters know that the happy moments will not last forever.
If you’ve gotten this far into the post without having read the manga before, then I suggest you check it out! It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but I enjoyed it overall and don’t regret reading it. And if you have read the manga, then I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Even if it’s not about what I talked about, there’s generally a lack of discussion on this manga on the net in english. Thanks for reading!