Mashiro has been able to see spirits of the dead for a long time now and she’s always tried to avoid dealing with them, as even as a young child she could feel how inherently dangerous that was.
One day Mashiro has to get involved however and in the process she becomes permanently partnered to Bazu, the spirit of a crow who couldn’t pass on peacefully. Bazu, and now Mashiro by association, work for the Boundary Preservation Society helping to move along these lingering spirits, both willing and unwilling, but it’s going to take some time before the two of them open up and trust each other enough to be partners.
I went into this series thinking that it was a yuri title and while I’m comfortable calling it yuri, I do want potential readers to know going in that this series is light on some of the actual, well, “yuri” bits. There are kisses between Mashiro and Bazu, non-romantic ones (it’s how their contract works), and there is a lesbian side-character but there’s no actual romance in the story. The close partnership that Mashiro and Bazu develop is one that I think would appeal to yuri fans and to me it was pretty clear that if Mashiro and Bazu had lived different lives, especially if the story had gone on for longer, that their relationship possibly could have developed into a romantic one. Although, if this charming, short series had gone on for longer I suspect that it still would have ended the same way, which is to say a little bittersweet. Neji says in the author’s note at the end of volume two “Since the theme of the story was dead people, this ended up being a really sad story, but I’m completely satisfied with it.”
Given that this series was only two volumes long I’m curious why Yen Press chose to release this story in single volumes but release The Whole of Humanity Has Gone Yuri Except For Me in a single omnibus (I didn’t even realize this series was only two volumes until the quick pacing in volume two prompted me to check). Again, much like Whole of Humanity, Dear Noman feels like it could have easily been extended for a much longer run time and given that the story was “serialized” on pixiv I wonder if it was Neji’s choice to keep it so short or if outside forces determined the length. It’s hard to build deep relationships between characters in such a short series, especially when they start off a bit antagonistic to each other like Mashiro and Bazu do, but when the story ended I too felt pretty satisfied with it.
Admittedly, having to fit the entire story in just two volumes makes some of the emotional beats punch even harder, where it feels like something potentially long-lasting was ripped away from the characters too soon, but I think that’s also due to Neji knowing exactly how to leverage the emotional beats and convince us the readers so fully of both the bravado and the vulnerability in all of the characters. Hopefully Neji’s next work won’t be quite so short but clearly they can make even a quick read a filling one!