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The unsatisfying taste of Shall We Date?: Angel or Devil brought me to rereading Seven Days, a two volume series written by Tachibana Venio and drawn by Takarai Rihito. Similarly to Angel or Devil, Seven Days takes place in, well, exactly seven days. It was 2009 when I first read the first chapters of Seven Days and to this day it remains one of my favourite BL manga.
The premise is very simple; falling in love in seven days – is it possible? Touji Seryou would go out with the first person who asked his out at the start of the week and break up with them by the end of the week if he couldn’t fall in love. Yuzuru Shino hears the rumour of Seryou’s weekly girlfriends and asks him out on a whim when he comes across him at the school gate on Monday morning. To Shino’s surprise, Seryou took his offhand comment seriously -or maybe he was just going along with his joke? The two end up at odds at what their relationship is supposed to be and before they know it they’re clumsily in love. The plot of Seven Days definitely isn’t ground-breaking, but it’s the execution that makes the simplicity so charming. Each chapter is divide into a day of the week, sometimes a day takes up two chapters. The first volume is divided into Monday-Thursday, while the second volume covers Friday-Sunday. It’s a calculated way to set up a manga, but its definitely not stiff nor boring.
Seryou is someone hung up on a love he cannot have, searching for someone he can care for more than her. Shino is someone who never has lasting relationships because girls fall in love with his pretty face, unable to follow the gap between how he looks and how he actually behaves.
The conflict between them is not knowing where they stand with each other, unsure of whether this relationship is a joke or not. Seryou is someone who treats his weekly girlfriend (or boyfriend) with utmost attention and care, and Shino wonders if this is just done out of courtesy because he was the first one to ask him out that week. Meanwhile, Seryou is upset Shino thinks this is a joke when he has started falling for him. Then comes the problem of “Shino,” a girl of the same name that Seryou can’t seem to get over. While the drama continues throughout the story, it never gets to the point of grating on one’s nerves because we can see through the misunderstandings that they are happening because they only see each other. The two pull at each other’s unknown weaknesses, both going at a difference pace and each taking the other out of their comfort zone. For Seryou who has been with various girls, Shino is an enigma; he scolds and gets angry at him, acts on impulse and without a thought, all this in contrary to Shino’s delicate looks. I would assume not many girls would dare to act how Shino does because its stated that their school was a private girls academy until recently. Shino voices that most of the girls are “spoiled rich girls who lead sheltered lives” who “want guys to be totally perfect.” They idolise Seryou – the perfect guy in their eyes, and don’t dare impose; the rumour goes you only have a single week with him so most would play it safe to stay on his good side. Seryou reveals he’s the type that likes to be tied down when Shino scolded him out of jealousy, which makes me think none of the girls managed to hit this spot. Shino also has the upper-hand of being a senior and doesn’t care about Seryou’s princely status -and even if he did, he acts without thinking a lot of the time anyway. For Shino who has always been told his personality is bad and Seryou who is treated like royalty, the two are able to see the other on equal footing and accept the good with the bad. And although they’ve been with other people before, they’re both still inexperienced with love – I think that’s basically what draws me to this couple; finding someone who can accept them for who they are while still holding on to that bit of innocence!
What drew me into Seven Days originally was the cover of the first volume. The composition, colours, face looking directly at the reader; it’s all very striking. In actuality I was disappointed when I laid eyes on a full sized version of the cover since all I’ve been seeing was a tiny thumbnail of it before. I thought from the thumbnail it would be amazing! pretty! gorgeous! and what I got was this slightly odd art style. But first impressions never last and I quickly became a big fan of Takarai Rihito’s style. I’ve been hearing comments lately saying they liked her style during Seven Days or Hana no Mizo Shiru better than her current one and I’m inclined to agree, although I like it either way. The style in Seven Days is a lot more loose, messier and has a sense of immaturity, while her current style is clean and lines are more solid. Granted, it was Takarai Rihito’s very first serialized comic back in 2007 – that’s a seven year gap. Hell, just comparing the two volume covers you can tell there’s a significant shift in style where the first volume looks more solid, the second gives off a strong digital look with the way she colours. Her style during Seven Days holds a lot of nostalgic charms of her doujinshi days; a lot of my favourite illustrations by her are from her Prince of Tennis doujinshi days, though I’m not familiar with the series. I think Takarai Rihito’s style is a lot more mainstream friendly nowadays since I don’t ever see comments complaining about how odd it looks any more.
The ironic thing about Seven Days, as noted by Tachibana Venio in her volume 1 author’s note, is that the overall serialization of Seven Days took over three years to complete. Due to the quarterly nature of CRAFT, the magazine where Seven Days was picked up for serialization, the story only progressed from Monday to Wednesday in 12 months. I just find it amazing how something that only spans a week could in actuality take up so much time and effort (well, I mean, there are sports manga where a single 1 hour match lasts several volumes, but those serializations are more frequent). Packed into two volumes, I can probably devour it in an hour.
I remember being asked why I liked Seven Days so much when it was “overrated.” It’s simple, charming, young love story. Favourites don’t necessarily mean the best – I think a lot of people forget this, it just means there’s a special attachment to a particular thing. Seven Days was one of the first BL manga to drag me into the BL fandom; I was a casual fan when I started, liking a lot of mainstream stuff, but Seven Days opened my eyes that there was a lot more to BL if I dug a little deeper. It introduced me to Takarai Rihito which I’m grateful for. Likewise it introduced me to Tachibana Venio which I had great interest in but information on her in English was sparse.
One of the greatest accomplishments of this series is the amount of people who are new to or don’t usually touch BL being able to appreciate Seven Days. If I was to recommend a newbie a BL, Seven Days would be on the top of my list. The series just has a universal appeal that isn’t easily done – it’s hard to get someone to read BL when there’s this misconception that the genre is just trashy gay porn. Seven Days isn’t about the sex and the characters don’t fit into box stereotypes, they’re just two people who happened to be guys in a weird agreement and end up falling in love. Regardless of whether you think the series was bad or overrated, you really have to praise Tachibana Venio and Takarai Rihito for penning something that is able to cross the barrier of readership.