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The Fall 2020 Manga Guide
Four Kisses, in Secret

What's It About? 

Mami has just 14 days before she graduates, which means she has 14 days to confess to her crush, Harutaka-kun, before she moves away and never sees him again. Saaya Yagi's one wish is to hear "that's delicious," from her boss, Oogami-kun. Hitsuji has somehow become entangled with her older brother's friend, Shiro-sempai, who swears he needs her next to him to get a (totally innocent...) good night's rest. Usami can't seem to shake her troublesome younger classmate until she finds maybe she didn't want to lose him after all.

Four Kisses, in Secret is drawn and scripted by Ruri Kamino. The manga is being published by Kodansha Comics and is available to read on Kadokawa's BookWalker service.

Is It Worth Reading?

Rebecca Silverman


Four Kisses, in Secret is a collection of four short stories by the same creator and it's kind of adorable. Although none of the stories are particularly deep or meaningful, all of them are sweet and explore different ways the couples get together, from the older childhood friend in the first story to the older brother's friend in the third to the coworkers in the second and the younger boy in the fourth. The stories all do take into account their settings and the ages of their characters as well, which helps to keep them all from seeming too similar, and as an added bonus, all eight of the main characters also look distinct from each other, so it doesn't feel like the stories are all basically about the same people with different names.

The sweetest of the batch is probably the first one, where a girl graduating from high school is trying to create a scenario to confess to her older childhood friend. We're not sure how much older he is, but it does look like this couple has the largest age gap; he can drive and doesn't appear to still be in school, although I suppose he could be in college. Naturally it turns out that he also has been harboring feelings for her and neither of them had been able to bring themselves to admit it, so when they finally do it makes the piece feel particularly rewarding. That there are no creepy aspects (unless you find the age gap a bit much) also makes things especially nice.

Not that any of the four are overtly creepy, unlike at least one other romance in the Guide. The fourth story hinges on the fact that the boy has liked the girl for quite some time, and he's devised a method of getting to look at her (and force her to look at him) in the form of a staring game in the hopes that his feelings will get through to her. The implication that he's been “staring” at her for a while is a little discomfiting, but that seems to mostly be due to the fact that this is the first piece the creator drew, making it the least polished in terms of storytelling and style. (From an art perspective, it's interesting to see how much more traditional the use of panels is.) The third story has its hero relying on a similar device to try to get his feelings across – he convinces the heroine that he can't fall asleep without her next to him, which of course leads to some awkward situations. It feels more like he didn't think that one through than anything deliberately sexual, although it is the story with the raciest implications.

All told, this is really just a very sweet, cute collection. The stories are nice, the art is soft and attractive, and there are animal puns with the characters' names, although it's a little creepy that all the guys have predators in their names and the girls have prey animals in theirs. But that aside, this is a good rainy day read – it's just nice and sometimes that's all you want out of a book.

Caitlin Moore


Four short stories. Four couples. Four kisses. This one-volume collection delivers pretty much exactly what it promises, but when you open it up, will you be delighted by what greets you, or dismayed by its dents and bruises?

What I found was something pleasant and satiating, if not totally memorable. Each story is about a different couple's first kiss, just a brief memorable moment at the start of their relationship. The first is about a girl who pretends to be injured so her childhood friend will drive her around in his car; the second, about a young woman working in a restaurant who is practicing cooking with the kitchen supervisor, even though he keeps calling her dishes “disgusting”; the third, about a girl and her brother's friend who uses her as a living dakimakura during exams; and finally, two teens who keep having staring contests.

Four stories, four couples. As I remarked in my review of Éclair Orange, short romance stories are tough because it's hard to build audience investment in a relationship through such brief moments, but Ruri Kamino accomplishes it beautifully. Despite the stories' short length, each couple has a sense of history and a unique dynamic, without any of them leaning too hard on dysfunction. The kisses aren't chaste and gentle, instead carrying some heat and the promise of further development in both their emotional and physical relationships, and always totally reciprocal. I have to admit, the boys are more interesting than the girls, but this is definitely a “blank slate” sort of work, meant for readers to project themselves onto rather than offer a distinctive main character.

As such, it's absolutely essential the art be appealing, and indeed it is. The girls blend together in this aspect as well, but the male character designs are much more distinct and attractive. Kamino excels at expression, illustrating subtle emotions through the quirk of an eyebrow or set of the chin. Their butts are, however, TRAGICALLY flat.

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