|Author: Ueda Mayu
Illustrator: Kane Hikaru
Esaka Kyouichi used to be an ordinary salaryman with a good education from college. However, he quit being a salaryman and was starting a new career as a housekeeper. His new employer would be a bestseller author with exploding popularity among young females – Akeno Hikari. When he arrived at Akeno sensei’s house, he was shocked to find the house in complete chaos. Unlike Esaka who had a strong physical build and manly face, Akeno sensei, whose real name was Aizawa Mizuki looked a bit girlish, with shoulder-length hair and a cute hair-clip. However, Mizuki’s personality was not girlish at all. In fact, he’s a workaholic who barely slept and kept working all the time. Esaka got introduced to Mizuki through a friend who worked in the publishing company and Mizuki could be considered a pretty good employer in the sense that he was working all the time but he did not require Esaka to keep up with his pace. In fact, he drew a clean line as to when Esaka could get “off work” – to the extent that even when he was hungry in the middle of the night writing, he would not bother Esaka. Although Esaka liked Mizuki in the sense that he was flexible, he also worked hard cleaning the house, cooking him meals, and telling him about the sea which he loved so much. That was also the reason why Esaka quit being a salaryman despite graduating from a good university. Every summer, he would go to sea to dive. He would give diving lessons but since he would leave for several months in the summer, he would have to quit his job and finding a new one would not be easy all the time. Esaka learned to dive at college and ever since diving because his passion and one of the most important things of his life. Mizuki was curious about what Esaka said but for him work was his priority. Esaka often wondered why Mizuki worked so hard to the extent that he was almost destroying his body. At the same time, while living with Mizuki, he also began to fall in love with the hard-working and strong-minded but extremely messy Mizuki.
Sadly, the relationship between the two altered when Aizawa Atsuo, Mizuki’s uncle suddenly paid Mizuki a visit. Atsuo came to ask Mizuki for money but Mizuki broke out in a rage and screamed at Atsuo, telling him to go away and scolding Esaka for opening the door to let Atsuo in. Of course, Esaka thought they had the same surname and he seemed to know Mizuki and so let him in. When things started to calm down, Esaka went to check out Mizuki and he learned that Mizuki’s parents died in an accident when he was very young. His uncle brought him up but they were rather cruel and would purposely leave him out during family celebrations. As a result, he disliked his relatives. When he finished high school, he started writing and he won a writing competition. He paid a large sum of money to thank his relatives for brining him up and wanted to cut off the relationship with the lump of money. However, his uncle would keep coming back to him and he disliked that. When Esaka heard about Mizuki’s past and his pain, he could not control himself. He confessed and kissed Mizuki. Of course, his sudden action would not be very pleasing for Mizuki … especially when a confession was from a guy and when the latter suddenly kissed him out of the blue. The result? Esaka was kicked OUT of the house and his friend who introduced him to Mizuki was also in a dangerous state as Akeno sensei would not want to work with his company any more. When Esaka was depressed from all this, he suddenly heard the news on TV. Atsuo went to the newspapers and media and told them that the bestseller author Akeno Hikari’s parents were really murderers! They made a mistake in driving and caused the accidents, killing themselves as well as the husband and father of another family! Until then, Akeno’s been telling people that his parents died in the car crash as victims and so this news really created a terrible impression on Mizuki, especially when Mizuki was not a cold-hearted person and took up the responsibility for his parents. Even though he was not driving and was also a “victim” himself in the accident, since his parents’ death and he started earning money, he would visit the dead driver’s family and gave them his condolescenes as well as money. In fact, Mizuki was so shocked he suddenly lost the ability to work. He could not concentrate or do anything. Esaka got worried and he tried to visit Mizuki to make sure he was alright and of course Mizuki wasn’t. The press was going mad trying to get into contact with Mizuki and trying to interview to know more about the incident. The world suddenly seemed to end for Mizuki and all the years of hard work to get where he was suddenly seemed to be flushed down the drain. The blow to his career also made Mizuki forgot his previous rejection of Esaka and let himself get closer to Esaka, the only person he could depend at the moment for warmth and comfort. Esaka then suggested to bring Mizuki to the sea in Okinawa and to teach Mizuki diving. In the beginning, Mizuki did not like the idea and he did not live diving at all. However, he was gradually attracted to the sport and the warm atmosphere between Esaka and his friends. He finally tried diving and fell in love with the sport. He had a very good time in Okinawa with Esaka and through that experience, he not only found love but also a new way to restart his career. At the same time, the family of the perished driver also came forward and explained to the media how Mizuki would visit them every year and offered them monetary compensation for their loss. So Mizuki managed to come back refreshed. He also controlled the amount of his work, spent more time relaxing and enjoying life, as well as started mysteries that’s based in Okinawa. When Mizuki came back, he was interviewed by the media. There, he apologized to the family of the victim again and said he felt sorry for what happened. He also thanked all the people in Okinawa, especially the person who stood by him when he was most helpless and needed help and he concluded the interview with saying “Everyday he felt very happy”.
The first (and main story) is Sweet^2 Vacation and that described how Esaka and Mizuki met and fell in love. In the second half of the novel Koi wa oatsuku, it talked about Esaka and Mizuki’s life in Okinawa. After he started writing again, Mizuki decided to leave Tokyo and move to Okinawa to live with Esaka. The job of Esaka did not really change (a.k.a. housekeeper or male maid or house”wife”) if you will but he also taught people diving at the same time. This part was really a collection of small episodes like how Mizuki got “slightly” jealous when he saw Esaka gently helping a female student to bandage her wound, or when Mizuki was scolded because he ignored Esaka’s orders while diving and left the group on his own. Basically, it’s a collection of love and fights 🙄 … it’s very cute and sweet.
I really bought this novel because of Kane Hikaru sensei’s artwork and I don’t have much expectations though there were some positive reviews from one of the reviewers I stalk. Surprisingly, I love it very much! As the title implies, this is a sweet sweet vacation though the story is not all surgary and cute. In fact, the part when Mizuki suddenly could not write because of the mess created by the media with regard to the story he sold to the TV, it was quite depressing and touching. I particularly like the fact how Esaka gradually led him to see what he missed. Since Mizuki grew up feeling he was not part of the family (and his uncle did not do much to show him otherwise), Mizuki reacted by acting cold to his uncle’s family as well. This created a viscious cycle that gradually made Mizuki decide he was not loved and so he wanted to cut off his relationship with his uncle entirely. However, life is not a business and love is really both ways. He couldn’t blame it all on his uncle’s family only. Through Esaka, Mizuki learned to warm up to other people and to enjoy his life once again and not just engage in work and nothing else. The problem I guess is with Esaka… technically, the breadwinner of the family is Mizuki and Esaka is the wife taking care of the house while earning extra through teaching diving (but that’s a hobby as well). In fact, in everyway in the relationship (except in bed), Mizuki is more “manlike” who looks at the bigger picture and Esaka is the more delicate person. I think this is quite interesting but it’s not my cup of tea because I still like the fact that the seme is at least as successful (if not more) than uke but who cares really, it’s 2006!
Mizuki is very cute and but also strong headed. I actually like this kind of strong-headed uke A LOT. Kane sensei drew him to be a bit “girlish”, especially with the cute cute hairclip. HOWEVER, when he’s angry, he has this very manly look on his face and that gap I quite like. Overall, Mizuki is like this insecure child who constantly felt he’s not loved and so doesn’t try to reach out to love others. Once he can overcome that barrier, he can become very cute and likable. Still, I wonder how Mizuki could leave without maid as he’s SO MESSY ^_^;; The beginning when Esaka first arrived was really funny and sweet.
Esaka is brilliant (enough to get into a good university) but he’s addicted to diving… to the extent that he has to turn to becoming a professional “housekeeper”. It’s a bit of a waste really but then education can never be a waste. You never know when your certificate can come in handy. Also, looking at how happy he became in the end living in Okinawa instead of the crowded Tokyo, it sometimes makes me wonder if it’s worth to give up your lifelong dream in order to chase after the standards of “society”. It’s a good question because what’s more important? YOUR OWN DREAM or your parents’ and so-called “society’s expectations of you”? In America or the west in general, I suppose one values freedom over anything and it’s not even a dilemma. However, in Asian societies, especially Japan, this may be a harder issue. I admire Esaka for choosing his dream and the sea over a more stable job and life… however, not many people can be lucky like Esaka to “marry” a rich and successful author ^o^;; so …hard choice.
This is a very simple story (though it’s surprisingly long for a Dear Plus novel). I love it because it tastes like a good lemon pie (with a right balance between sweet and sour flavors). The writing is smooth and easy to read. It’s not a book that makes me want to read from start to finish in one go, but it’s certainly one I would like to read before going to bed or while having a cup of tea.