360 Degrees Material
(Manga 2010- 2012)
By Touko Minami
I read a lot of shoujo manga, and usually it is easy for me to decide on which characters I like or dislike. Yet there is always that one manga, where I can’t root for just one guy to get the girl. One of those shoujo manga is 360 Degrees Material.
Suano Taki almost got hit by a train because he was standing too close to the edge of the yellow rail line and someone accidentally pushed him, but Mio Otaka saves him. Taki returns the favor after Mio almost got hit by a car while walking to school. Taki and Mio become friends, and then eventually become a couple. Things get complicated when the basketball club member, Marui Yuuki starts hanging out with Mio because they both have to take supplementary classes. Marui starts liking Mio, and she must decide between the two guys.
You may be wondering how these two almost happen to have near-death experiences. Well it is because they were both looking at the sky to see if it will be sunny or rainy. It is a unique way of small-talk in regards to the usual statement, “How’s the weather?” They take it literally and really look at the sky to see. It is cute and original, but in reality, it is also dangerous if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings.
While reading this manga, I wondered why it was called, “360 Degrees Material.” It is a peculiar title. I don’t think I found my answer to it literally in the manga, so I’m just going to interpret like I always do. In math, 360 degrees could refer to a circle. In this context, it could imply “going full circle.” Mio struggles with deciding who she loves, Taki or Marui. She goes through all kinds of twists and turns, but in the end, she does “go full circle.” She thought about how if she didn’t meet Taki, she wouldn’t have met Marui or be in any of the study groups that they were in together. Hence, she realizes that it always has been Taki that she loves. It sounds like a shady way of making a decision, but it does make sense to me. We always put things into perspective or think about the “bigger picture.” I think this is one of those cases.
Back to the title of this post, “Tough Choice,” I had a tough decision in deciding which guy I would root for. They both had their imperfections, including Mio, which made the characters more realistic, and I didn’t find these traits annoying. Hence, I can’t pick because I like both guys equally.
360 Degrees Material is the typical school life shoujo manga. It isn’t one of my favorites, but it has a cute storyline.