REVIEW: ‘Falling Drowning,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Falling Drowning Volume 1 - But Why Tho

Love triangles are common in shoujo mana romances. They bring tension and drama and can keep the story going. That said, a lot of the time, a love triangle injected into a story can detract from the emotional elements that the mangaka is aiming for. That said, when it’s built into the premise from the beginning, a love triangle can be used to explore agency, independence, and learning how to choose yourself first. That’s where Falling Drowning comes in.

Falling Drowning Volume 1 is written and illustrated by mangaka Yuko Inari. The manga is published and localized in English by Kodansha, featuring translation by Jessica Latherow (Local Manga) and lettering by Barri Shrager (Local Manga). In the manga, Honatsu just started her second year of high school, and there are already rumors floating around that she’s dating her childhood friend, Toma. While Honatsu isn’t totally opposed to the idea, she’s not sure what she feels for Toma can really be called love. But when aloof transfer student Shun Tachibana appears, the waters get even muddier and her heart begins to split in two. To make matters more confusing, Honatsu has blind spots in her past and it appears that Shun connects to them.

The beauty of Falling Drowning is that Inari clearly knows how to use a love triangle to explore inner conflict as much as external. Honatsu is put into a position to decide what she truly wants, but she has to decide what to follow, her head or her heart. For the love interests’ parts, each of the boys is calling to a different piece of Honatsu. Toma has always been there for her, helping her after she lost her memories when she was 11. He watches over her, carries her bags, and treats her like something to be protected. On the other hand, Tachibana lets Honastu do things for herself and doesn’t see her as someone who is fragile despite her tragic past.

For Honatsu, Toma is safe. He’s like home to her, and the comfort she feels is instinctive. While she doesn’t know if she loves him, she can feel her emotions accumulating as they spend time together. But for Honatsu, Tachibana seems like an adventure. He’s new and different, and the electricity she feels around him, even when he’s standoffish is something she can’t stop thinking about. This dynamic is what the narrative hinges on and one that Inari explores. Going where you’re safe and taken care of is a natural pull and a special kind of love. But at the same time, having someone see you as competent and strong, trusting you to take care of yourself, changes things. When you’re used to being cared for, someone believing in your independence can shake your foundation in a way that feels liberating.

Falling Drowning Volume 1 sets up our characters wonderfully and keeps just enough mystery to make the angle of amnesia interesting. While it does take some suspension of disbelief for the premise, the heart of the story is one that is relatable. Love what’s comfortable or love what pushes you. While I’m interested to explore Tachibana and Honatsu’s past and seeing the romantic rivalry between Tachibana and Toma, I just want more introspection.

While Inari’s dialogue is great between characters, it’s the moments where Honatsu is alone with herself, working through her emotions that really shine. She is exploring love for the first time in such a way that she has to analyze what it all means. Does she want a small building love over time or a fall? This exploration is just the start.

Overall, Falling Drowning Volume 1 may have a gimmick (amnesia and all) but it also has a story about a love triangle that is all about our lead finding herself, and not necessarily the right guy. This alone makes it one to read.

Falling Drowning Volume 1 is available now wherever digital books are sold. 


Falling Drowning Volume 1
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, Falling Drowning Volume 1 may have a gimmick (amnesia and all) but it also has a story about a love triangle that is all about our lead finding herself, and not necessarily the right guy. This alone makes it one to read.