Kimi Ni Todoke #15
One of the reasons why Kimi Ni Todoke doesn’t seem to be getting stale even at volume 15 is that there are so many rich and emotionally charged stories that center on the supporting cast. If the manga only focused on the lead couple, I could see myself getting a little weary, but being able to stop every now and then and see a relationship explored that has a totally different dynamic keeps everything interesting. As one would expect from the cover to the volume, the relationship between Chizuru and Ryu is given the spotlight here, and this resulted in one of the most gripping shoujo manga that I’ve read recently.
Ryu has confessed his feelings for Chizu, and she isn’t sure what to do. She’d been nursing an unrequited love for his older brother for a long time, and always thought of Ryu as her brother. Now, she doesn’t want to face him and the fact that their friendship won’t be the same. Ryu’s relieved that he’s finally no longer hiding how he feels and he’s actually feels calm even if Chizu is avoiding him. She’s sad, but still drops off rice balls at Ryu’s house and he reveals to Kazehaya that she’s been bringing him food since the winter of third grade. One of the things that I enjoyed most about this volume was the way it delved into the reasons behind the character’s feelings. Kazahaya ends up serving as a sounding board for both of his friends, and he attempts to find out why Chizu is so upset. With the revelation of Ryu’s feelings, Chizu thinks that their sibling-type relationship was a lie, and everything that she valued “never existed.” Kazehaya asks if knowing that Ryu loves her makes her a little bit happy and she thinks that it never occurred to her. She’s crying because she can’t hang out doing goofy stuff like playing video games and eating ramen anymore because he’s not her brother. Chizu thinks back to the beginning of their friendship when they were little kids and constant companions. When Ryu’s mother died, their friendship developed a deep bond when Chizu vowed to be Ryu’s sister.
Kimi Ni Todoke delves into some pretty serious issues as Chizu works through her feelings, but everything is explored in a very natural and unaffected way. While there are plenty of scenes of the characters working through their feelings, much more is expressed through the portrayal of everyday actions like bundling up before a walk to school in the winter, or the neighborly way Chizu and Ryu’s families trade food back and forth. The act of eating home cooked food takes on a ritual significance when Ryu’s life changes so we see why Chizu’s act of dropping of snacks and Ryu’s habit of preparing lunch for her means so much more than just making sure that a friend has something to eat. Kimi Ni Todoke is such a standout shoujo series, and I become more and more fond of it with each volume.
Oresama Teacher #11
I can always count on this manga to make me smile, and I was particularly delighted that this volume featured the always entertaining plot line of Mafuyu trying to defeat a new enemy. But first, the reader is treated to what might be one of the most ridiculous Christmas dates ever to be portrayed in a shoujo manga, as Hayasaka goes on a date with his hero Super Bun. Mafuyu trying to negotiate the date while still wearing her Super Bun ceramic mask was quite a sight, and it was fun to see a comedic twist on this shojo plot staple. A new enemy appears in the form of the rather sickly student council stooge Ayabe, who goes everywhere with a guitar case on his back. He decides that he’s going to take Mafuyu down, but his methods are a bit odd as they involve actions like shutting himself in a locker and sending out death vibes when she walks by. Ayabe challenges Mafuyu and he actually manages to defeat her, leaving her to decide that she’s going to figure out everything about him in order to beat him next time. Her resolute stalking of him throughout the school makes some bystandars assume that she has a crush on him, but she’s really trying to know her enemy the best she can.
Oresama Teacher‘s formula of exaggerated behavior and ridiculous situations might be a bit predictable, but Tsubaki’s storylines always seem to have a bit of a weird and unexpected twist that maintains my interest. The source of Ayabe’s delinquent fighting powers was incredibly goofy, but I would expect nothing less from this series. I hope the next volume swings back to feature a bit more Takaomi and Bancho, because I’ve missed them. They make brief appearances in this volume, but not quite enough to satisfy me.
We Were There #15
This is the next to last volume of We Were There, and as much as I admire this series I think I am ready for it to be over. I could see how things were starting to wind down in the last volume, and that continues in this volume as Yano begins to realize the continuing depth of Nanami’s feelings for him. One of the things that We Were There really excels at as it shows the characters age from high school to young adulthood is portraying the burden of their shared history. Yano’s relationship and sense of obligation to the Yamamoto family finally reaches a stage where he may begin to move forward with his life, but I’m still wondering if Yano and Nanami really should end up together just due to the weight of their pasts. If Yano actually gets past all the guilt he’s been carrying around, he might actually be a whole human being once again, and it is clear that there is no other person that Nanami can be with. I’ve said before that this series reminded me a bit of Sand Chronicles, in the way both of them go for absolute melodrama in the way the plots unfolded. This isn’t a bad thing, but I think the emotional trauma has me looking forward to the final volume of this series while at the same time I’m very happy that Kimi Ni Todoke is up to 17 volumes and still going strong.
Review copies provided by the publisher