I’m very fond of this series, but I tend to read it in patches. It is the 12th volume and Sawako and Kazehaya are only just to the stage of awkward hand-holding and meeting each other’s family! No one could accuse Kimi Ni Todoke of moving too fast, but there’s something about the slow development of this awkward romance that is very endearing. School is out for the summer, and Sawako isn’t entirely sure how she’s supposed to get in touch with Kazehaya because as she confesses to her girlfriends Chizu and Ayane “In general, I don’t know what to do in a relationship.” They point out to her that if she’s in a relationship it would be normal for them to spend time with each other, hold hands, and kiss, leaving Sawako instantly overwhelmed. She just cannot process the idea of actually having a boyfriend. Kazehaya and Sawako do homework together for their summer classes. Later, they walk out together and there is an scene showing the shadow of Sawako’s hand reaching out towards Kazehaya, capturing the agony of making the first move. Kazehaya accidentally jostles her and then takes her hand, and as they are walking together as boyfriend and girlfriend, they run into Sawako’s mother. What follows is a simultaneously awkward and adorable round of introductions, as the new couple takes turns giving Sawako’s Mom all the details about Kazehaya and their relationship. They end up going to Sawako’s house for dinner and her father’s reaction to Kazehaya’s presence is a blank rictus of shock, made more comical by the way his glasses go completely white. Kimi Ni Todoke is really great at capturing all these embarrassing moments of teenagerhood while telling a very sweet story. Sawako’s parents welcome Kazekaya because they see how happy she’s become recently. The next story in this volume gives some great background on Ayane and Chizu’s friendship, as it shows how they became unlikely best friends.
As summer vacation progresses, it is Sawako’s turn to meet Kazehaya’s family. It is fun to see how excited she is. Kazehaya and his mom have the type of relationship where they mock apologize for each other as soon as they have an audience. Sawako is excited to see Kazehaya’s little brother and when she meets Kazehaya’s father she is overcome with the thought of seeing “Kazehaya-kun in the future!” Kazehaya’s sporty dad quizzes Sawako on her eating and exercise habits, makes the pronouncement that she needs to eat more and gruffly insists that she eat his favorite ice cream. Other notable episodes in this book include Chizu’s massive arm wrestling competition on the beach, and the beginning of the obligatory in most shoujo manga school trip chapters. Overall dipping back into this series reminded me of the things that Kimi Ni Todoke always seems to do right – sympathetic but quirky characters going thorough first love with plenty of awkwardness and funny moments.
Review copies provided by the publisher