Crazy for You Volumes 1 and 2 by Karuho Shiina
I was very excited when I saw that JManga had started adding new shojo titles – two volumes at a time! Jmanga started up with plenty of shonen and seinen titles, but the josei and shojo categories were a bit underserved until recently. I was particularly interested in Crazy For You, since it is by the author of the quirky and heartwarming series Kimi Ni Todoke. With the contraction of the manga market and many publishers with significant shojo titles going out of business, there’s only so much capacity for print shojo, so I’m very happy to see JManga releasing more female-centric titles.
Crazy for You is an earlier series by Shiina, and while the art isn’t as sophisticated, Shiina puts together a very compelling plot with a bit of a twist from what the reader would expect from a shojo manga. In many ways Sachi is the stereotypical shojo heroine. She’s not the prettiest or smartest girl in school, and in fact she has never had a boyfriend. She does exhibit an almost ruthlessly optimistic way of viewing the world. Sachi’s good friend Akemi invites her along on a group date with a bunch of boys who go to her boyfriend’s school. Sachi meets Yuki, who pronounces her “cute” and since Sachi is easily impressed she thinks “I think I can survive for half a year on rice topped with just those words!” If Crazy For You was only an exploration of Sachi’s simple first romance, it would get boring very fast but fortunately Shiina starts mixing things up very quickly. It turns out that Yuki is an unapologetic womanizer, and Akemi warns her off of developing any sort of attachment to him. Yuki finds Sachi’s innocence amusing and refreshing, but decides that he would be a horrible person if he actually took advantage of her trust, so he decides not to date her. Despite all of these undercurrents, Sachi and Yuki end up developing an odd-not quite romantic friendship although Sachi is quite forthright about her feelings for Yuki. Akemi keeps trying to tell Sachi that Yuki is going to make her cry, and Yuki’s sardonic friend Akahoshi observes Yuki and Sachi’s budding relationship with his own hidden motivations. The first volume of the manga ends with a very surprising plot twist that is the type of development I would normally expect several volumes into the series. I was enjoying Sachi and Yuki’s odd friendship, but the conclusion really got me hooked on the series.
The art starts to smooth out a bit in the second volume, with some of the paneling in the later chapters reminding me more of the style shown in Kimi Ni Todoke. There’s plenty of dramatic fall-out to deal with, and Akahoshi warns Yuki that if he’s not going to date Sachi, he’s going to take her away. Sachi’s friendship with Akemi is strained, but she deals with it in a refreshingly direct manner. Akahoshi tells Sachi that it is impossible for men and women to be friends, and warns her away from her usual habit of trying to see the best in people.
Sachi’s portrayed as sweet and trusting, but she isn’t a Pollyanna caricature. She’s throwing herself into experiencing a new side of life and dealing with everything as best she can. One of the things I liked about Crazy for You is that I wasn’t really sure which direction the plot was going to go. Sachi has the potential for a romantic relationship with Yuki if a variety of obstacles – both external and internal are solved. On the other hand, Akahoshi’s somewhat harsh exterior and blunt way of speaking may be a front for someone who is genuinely caring, and his tendency to not try to shield Sachi from harsh reality might make him a better match for her in the long run. I hope that we see more shojo titles like Crazy for You on Jmanga.
Electronic access provided by the publisher.