A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow is the first manga series by author and illustrator Makoto Hagino. It is a shojo manga, which means the story is centered around young girls and their interpersonal relationships. It’s a slice of life school story focused on the shy friendship between two lonely girls.
Introverted and dramatic Konatsu Amano is new to the seaside town of Nagahama. Her father’s work has sent him abroad and she has been sent to live with her aunt. The slower-paced town is a big change from her life in Tokyo. As she navigates through the first day at Nanahama High, she meets Koyuki Honami, the sole member of the Aquarium Club. Konatsu doesn’t catch her name at first because the first day of school is such a blur. They literally run into each other on the beach and have adorkable introductions. Koyuki is the pretty and aloof girl that all the teen boys ask out, yet she turns all of them down. Her aloofness is just her shyness and Koyuki feels more comfortable with the creatures in the aquarium until she meets Konatsu.
Much of the first volume revolves around Konatsu learning about Nagahama, her new school, and her responsibilities in the Aquarium Club. There is a storyline where Kaede, Konatsu’s other new friend, invites her into the Home Economics Club. It’s a requirement in their school that everyone must join a club. Konatsu had already joined the Aquarium Club, and in the moment freezes. Kaede has a very outgoing, bubbly personality and just moves onto the next subject. Konatsu then agonizes over telling Kaede. When she finally works up the nerve, Kaede is fine with it and doesn’t even remember inviting her to the Home Economics Club.
In second volume of A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow, the plot revolves around our introverts catching feelings for each other. As their friendship grows, they finally work up the nerve to swap phone numbers while on a fishing trip. Later Koyuki agonizes about texting Konatus to invite her to the Summer Festival. Konatsu, of course, thinks Koyuki must not like her very much and keeps checking her phone while she’s hanging out with Kaede. She ends up going to Koyuki’s house, where Koyuki’s father spills the beans about the Summer Festival, and they make plans to go. Progress! The day of the festival, Konatsu’s father surprises her, which would be great normally except she really wants to spend her time with Koyuki! He accompanies them to the festival and makes dad jokes. They’re able to break off and do their own thing until they get separated by the crowd. They are finally able to find each other just in time for the fireworks, where they finally hold hands.
A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow is a delightful read! Hagino does a great job making the reader feel the loneliness and the anxiety associated with making new friends, crushes, and general high school awkwardness. The reader will learn some facts and get to meet the critters who live in the aquarium, particularly the nocturnal clouded salamander. The salamander becomes a metaphor for the two girls, and Konatsu’s class reads a story about a salamander and a frog. She hopes to be the frog to Koyuki’s salamander, which is just adorable. The art is also very well done and is in a cute style associated with current shojo. Hagimo is very good at drawing expressions, so the reader really feels the emotions of the characters, whether it be excitement, loneliness, anxiety, or the butterflies of a new crush. Another cool aspect of this manga is the author includes a little comic at the end explaining her inspiration and process for creating the series. It’s adorable! If you have shojo readers at your library that enjoy school stories, then this is an automatic addition. The content is perfect for middle school and up.
A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow, Vols. 1-2
By Makoto Hagino
Vol 1 ISBN: 9781974710430
Vol 2 ISBN: 9781974710591
Viz Media, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Teen
Series Reading Order: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Tropical_Fish_Yearns_for_Snow (Wikipedia or Goodreads)
NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13), Teen (13-16), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Traits: Japanese Queer