Hand in Hand: “Teasobi” Final Review

Teasobi, the slightly “scandalous” hand-holding manga, recently concluded in Japan. From Ootake Toshitomo, the author of one of my favorite manga, Mogusa-san, it’s a quirky little series whose basic premise–boy gets girlfriend with a serious thing for hands–that ended up being a little less about exploring a specific kink and more about the thoughts and feelings of the characters involved.

One of the tricky things about a series like Teasobi is that it can be difficult to sustain such a simple premise for very long without going to some weird places. Mysterious Girlfriend X, for example, started off about drool and then went to every unorthodox fetish posible. At only three volumes, Teasobi never quite gets that far, but even within its short run, the series expands its cast of characters in a way that both stays true to the story and adds some welcome variety. Whether it’s a love rival who really likes being petted or a friend who’s really into manicures, different characters showcase different aspects of what it means to be “into hands.” I’ve come to realize that this is one of Ootake’s strengths, as Mogusa-san has a dominant similarly endearing supporting cast.

Teasobi also develops the relationship between the main couple, Shijima and Fuchizumi, at a nice pace. I think this has to do with the fact that unlike a more conventional series, there isn’t this obsession with getting the kiss or going all the way. Instead, it’s about growing confidence in their love and in themselves. They’re already exploring their feelings in a way that feels both more innocent and more risque, and it upends genre benchmarks to a small degree. I’m also pleased that their secret relationship gets less secret over time, and that it’s not just about sneaking around forever and ever.

I actually originally began this review with the intent of it being a kind of “progress report,” unaware that the series would be over so soon after. It’s kind of a bittersweet outcome, as I would’ve loved if Teasobi went on for as long as Mogusa-san did. But this is the hand that’s been dealt, and I wish Ootake-sensei luck in his next work. Volume 3, the last one, goes on sale in Japan this December 19.

PS: A bit of a spoiler, but the final chapter actually has a cameo of Mogusa, who’s know a mom! Her kid is named “Mito,” and I assume it’s a pun on “meat” (miito -> Mito). I’m so happy for her…!

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