Kissing by Teiko Sasaki and Shoko Takaku centers on the friendship of college seniors Haru and Kazushi. And it is another angst-fest. These two childhood friends are often mistaken as a couple by the people around them as a result of their comfort and affection with one another. Already I am a smitten kitten at this point. I love stories about close friendships that blur boundaries between amorous, philial and fraternal love, so even if there were not the later element of a hidden amorous/erotic love thrown in I would still be drawn to the story. Haru and Kazushi rely on one another's friendship so it is no surprise that Kazushi holds back his feelings from Haru for fear of risking what they already have together. It isn't until Haru pushes Kazushi for answers about his secret love interest that the truth is revealed. Haru's response is shock and dismay...followed by avoidance and an angry confrontation about how Kazushi should have just kept quiet. Behind the surface, though, readers are made aware of how much Haru relies on Kazushi and how oblivous he has been to the effort Kazushi has put into their friendship over the years. It is time for Haru to grow up.
As graduating seniors each friend is plagued with concerns over their future, and what it might hold. When Haru learns of Kazushi's goal to move to America for an MBA, he considers the loss that that entails and subsequently the important role Kazushi has played in his life. What is the difference between friendship and love? At times it is quite clear, but for these two characters whose lives have been so intertwined the distinction is almost irrelevant. They belong to one another in so many ways that the shift from platonic to romantic love seems inevitable in some ways.
The manga centers on that shift, and the fear that if "things go wrong" their longstanding friendship will be destroyed. It is also sprinkled with nostalgic moments that show us how their relationship has developed over the years. Scenes of Kazushi sneaking through Haru's window mean much more in the context of his now-public confession. Very Romeo and Tybalt! The genuine affection between the two characters is beyond sweet, and their fear of losing one another motivates each to reimagine their connection to one another. All in all, this is a really sweet and tender story about not only the crossroads between different types of love, but the uncertainties these students face regarding their future together and apart.
The manga rates itself as 16+ (for one little scene at the end).