After Hours is a slice of life manga that isn’t interested in going places so much as exploring where people are at the moment. We have the very typical naive and ‘normal’ main character who finds a wild and crazy free spirit and becomes fascinated with them. Ostensibly, the story is about the DJ/clubbing scene. But really, at heart this is a book about exploring and living life to your fullest.
Story: Quiet and shy Emi goes to a club with her friend – even though she isn’t really into the scene at all. When an interesting girl saves her from the advances of a drunken patron, Emi is completely in her thrall. After a one night stand, she isn’t sure where she stands with Kei but she knows it’s where she wants to be – but with someone as flighty as her new DJ girlfriend, she will have a lot to learn in order to just keep pace.
Kei is the typical quirky and interesting ‘own self’ type of main character that typically gets crushed on by very simple/simplistic love interests. Emi is quite dull, somewhat shy, and easily manipulated. With Kei’s help, she’s going to learn to go outside of herself and experience life in a new and different way.
Not much happens in After Hours Volume 1 – it’s really all about slowly drawing Emi out of her shell through little life vignettes. Kei gradually brings her to different clubs and teaches Emi how to DJ/use the equipment. Emi goes along quite eagerly – she is falling in love with both the DJ scene and with Kei herself.
I’m not a bit reader of slice of life comics and likely won’t continue reading the series. I typically prefer a lot more action or humor, drama or angst. But After Hours is a lovely Josei (adult woman) title that should appeal to quite a few people for its charm, message, and warmth. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.