I Want to Eat your Pancreas (Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai)
review Copyright © 2022 by Doug Reeder
Manga adaption; novel by Sumino Yoru
It's about an unlikely friendship between two high school students. Haruki is a depressed total introvert and Sakura is a total extrovert — who's going to die in less than a year from pancreatic failure. He's the only one outside her family to find out. It's an excellent reconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. He becomes part of her life, but not the center of it. She has a family, other friends she spends time with, and a best friend who naturally sees Haruki as an interloper. Sakura needs something from him — a friend who won't overreact to her illness. And, it develops, she wants to learn something from him. Most of all, they share a friendship, not a romantic relationship. (Friendship-with-benefits is on the table, but they have only teenage-level maturity to handle it.) The characters acknowledge it might have become a romantic relationship, given enough time.
The Ill Girl story-line lets the characters muse on how to live, knowing that you'll die either sooner or later. More could have been said about what makes a romantic relationship different than a friendship. The Kishōtenketsu plot structure requires a twist in the third act, and the one chosen here is improbable, but nevertheless deepens the work, overall. It took me two readings to catch everything that was going on with the supporting characters.
There is also an anime - I don't know how it compares.
- Previous: “Tau Zero” by Poul Anderson