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…!

Oh My God, Becky, Look at His Hands: Teasobi

One of my favorite manga in recent memory has been Mogusa-san by Ootake Toshitomo, about a girl with an unstoppable appetite. Its sequel, Mogusa-san Fights Against Appetite, concluded last year, leaving me to wonder where I might see Ootake show up next. The answer is his brand-new series: Teasobi, or “Hand Play.”

Plain-looking Shijima “Shijimi” Nagisuke seems an unlikely boyfriend for the attractive and popular Fuchizumi, but she sure doesn’t see it that way. After all, in her eyes, he’s gorgeous and manly—or at least his hands are. That’s right: Fuchizumi is really, really into hands and fingers, to the extent that Shijima’s not sure if she even sees him from the wrists up.

To a degree, Teasobi resembles Mogusa-san—a normal guy, an eccentric girl, and a strange connection between the two. However, it actually reminds me more of the bizarre romance manga that I’m rather fond of, series that focus on the idea that a unique bond between two individuals is somehow deeper, more powerful, and more sensual than just a normal physical relationship. Think Nozoki Ana (centered around a peephole), Sundome (about avoiding climax), and one of my absolute favorites, Mysterious Girlfriend X (features literal spit swapping).

But whereas those series all delve into the sensual in graphic or at least eyebrow-raising ways, what sets Teasobi apart is that it’s focused on that most seemingly innocent of loving interactions: hand-holding. There’s nothing rated X about the physical contact between Shijima and Fuchizumi, which ranges from clasping fingers to thumb wrestling to high fives, but Fuchizumi’s enthusiasm makes it seem somehow more taboo. It’s fun, silly, and a bit thrilling.

Only a few chapters are currently out in Japan, but I’m definitely enjoying Teasobi. It brings a new meaning to the concept of “secret handshakes.”