I was cleaning out my HDD and realised I had downloaded this some time and neglected reading it. Tonight, I decided to change that. To those who are reading this, I may spoil things. My humble apologies.
I was instantly reminded of the manga "Bokura no Negai". I can't say I was reminded in the good way: it felt too similar to really be a coincidence, but I'll work on good faith and assume the idea was conceived independently and originally.
One thing I did like was the presentation of items as small cut-out images in the centre of the screen. I also liked that the main character had a defined personality, and an actual face.
I also liked the theme of a story. Familial ties and karma, the spirit of self-sacrifice and all that. Not a bad choice. Gutsy, in a way. The idea of a shop of wishes isn't entirely original, but I'll be hard-pressed to find anything that is truly original. I don't have a problem with the basic idea.
Unfortunately, I didn't like the execution. The writing felt incredibly sloppy and hurried, glossing over what should be important events as "simple side events". One example reared its head rather early, and left a bitter impression of the main characters.
A few things become clear very quickly: the main character's parents died 'not too long ago', the characters are at best college age, and they now struggle to live alone. What is incredibly galling and breaks any semblance of sympathy is the two brothers' cavalier attitudes towards their parents' demise. The younger brother starts off with the innocuous remark, "What would mom say?", which becomes a horrifying reminder of their not-too-long-ago demise in a horrible plane crash accident while on their honeymoon. By all notions, that is a horrible event to occur, and the younger brother cruelly and thoughtlessly reminds his brother of this by raising the question, "What would mom say?"
Even in the most charitable interpretation, the younger brother's image is harmed by this comment. What's worse is the narrator describing the event. He delivers his parents' gruesome and terrible demises with the same air as one would deliver that they broke their favourite bike: "bummer, ma and da are dead. Life goes on!" I can't do anything other than view the main character as emotionally defunct, to so calmly and easily pass off the death of his parent and step-parent. It made it hard to care for the main character.
That is by far not the only case where the writing should be more thoughtful. The younger brother's actions are inexplicable when his older brother confronts him, and an odd emphasis is placed on how he is to blame for what happens in the story. That would be fine if he was
to blame, but apparently
we're to blame some supernatural being for inspiring his hateful anti-homosexual sentiments? And what happened to the necklace (not quite an obvious gift for a younger brother) Ao was given?
It feels cheap, much like how the rest of the story looks designed to solicit a cheap emotional reaction with the epilogue.
Further questions are raised by the sibling turning around into either bisexuality or miracle heterosexuality after the accident. Incestuous love for a brother isn't going to suddenly change the preferences Ao has in lovers: this implies he is looking for someone protective that makes him feel safe, like his older brother... but the woman he's with doesn't appear to fit that profile. Unfortunately, she moreso comes off as a plot device to facilitate Masato's "rebirth" rather than an actual development.
I think you have potential. Though the writing was hasty, it wasn't bad
. With polish and attention to detail, you can create something that is every bit as inspiring as this is clearly meant to be. Take time, don't rush headlong into events and give readers time to care about the characters and their plights.
As-is, this feels like a short story to introduce the 'Beyond The Boundary' shop more than it is a story about Masato and his brother Ao. And while it provides an interesting theme and explores an intriguing idea, its focus appears misplaced, the characters seem flat and the story skips from start to end too quickly. There is a good potential here to shine─but polish is needed to bring out that shine in future projects.