Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance was always bound to eventually be about Rintarou and Maria seeking approval from their parents to be together. But I didn’t expect it to happen so abruptly and involve a time skip.
Maria continues to battle her low self-esteem stemming from her hair color, but Rintarou encourages her to hold her head high and face forward. She gets a chance to take his advice as the two head out for a day on the town. This is accompanied by a gorgeous two-page spread of the Yokohama port, and after their date, Maria realizes she loves Rintarou.
Maria’s mother senses her daughter’s joy, and she tells Maria to give up such ideas. Mom has never been much of a sympathetic character, but from her statements, it seems like Maria’s father likely left the two of them because his family disapproved of having a wife from a different class and/or race.
But just when Golden Japanesque seems like it’s going to focus more on this angle, instead, Rintarou proposes. So you know what that means — yelling about Rintarou’s position, needing to strengthen the family’s political power, insults about Maria’s foreign blood and ranking, etc. All the typical rich boy x poor girl problems, particularly in a historical setting.
Actually, the Mayuzumi family doesn’t have too much of an issue as long as the two of them can improve themselves separately over the course of a few years. For Maria, this means getting an education and bridal training. Rintarou is sent overseas for his own studies. In a genre full of oppressive patriarchs and matriarchs in upper class families, it’s almost jaw-dropping to see a rather practical take of, “Okay, grow up a little bit and prove you still want to be together after a few years, and then you’re free to live happily ever after!” — and there doesn’t appear to be any trickery afoot either. That’s seriously amazing, and a great flip on the typical storyline in these kinds of romances.
However, the next arc seems to be playing a classic trope straight: the love triangle. In the manga’s final chapter of the volume, we check in with Maria about six months after Rintarou’s departure. While walking around town, she sees an argument involving one young man and several women (and one woman’s ex). He uses Maria as an excuse to escape, and who else would this playboy be but Chiaki, Rintarou’s cousin. Chiaki finds himself fascinated by Maria’s dedication to Rintarou, and with the latter teased to return in the next volume, we’ll have to see how close Maria and Chiaki have become over the years.
It’s unfortunate author Miyasaka glosses over one of Golden Japanesque‘s strengths: Maria’s hard work to become a wife of the Mayuzumi family and getting to know more about her future in-laws. I didn’t like the introduction of Chiaki, especially since it seems unlikely we’re going to see how their friendship (and Chiaki’s presumable crush) develops. If the series was going to undergo a timeskip, I wish Miyasaka had waited to introduce Chiaki or shown more of Maria and Rintarou’s years apart.