Kimi ni Todoke Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, February 02, 2010
More substantial than cotton candy entertainment, but just as sweet.
Writer/Artist: Karuho Shiina
Translation: HC Language Solutions
Adaptation: HC Language Solutions
What They Say
Sadako's dreams come true when she finally becomes friends with her classmates, instead of scaring them off. She even gets friendly with the cutest girl in school, Kurumi. But will this innocent friendship with Kurumi make Sadako realize that her feelings for Kazehaya are more than just friendly? Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine - for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting movie character. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that - she's about to make some enemies too!
Sawako is slowly being introduced to the joys of having friends, which includes everyday events like going out to eat and hanging out at each other’s houses. Her delight at being a part of the group is just as endearing as ever, as is her awkwardness when pushed into new situations. And for an author who claims to be getting old in one of the sidebars in this volume, Karuho Shiina depicts high school friendships far more realistically than many of the other shoujo series out there. For instance, the group of Kazehaya, Ryu, Yoshida, and Yano is happy to have Sawako’s company, but there are also moments where it’s clear that they’re making an effort to bring the rather quiet Sawako into the conversation. Her developing friendship with Kazehaya is especially endearing when he notices that she’s training for the sports festival on her own, so as not to inconvenience Yano or Yoshida, and helps her to practice.
But life in a shoujo manga can never be completely uncomplicated, and the arrival of the very-cute Kurumi does throw things off-balance. Thanks to some foreshadowing from volume two, which is when she made a very small first appearance, the readers know that this seemingly-innocent girl has an agenda. Sawako, oblivious and trusting as she is, does not, and Kurumi’s smart enough to keep up the act. She isn’t the generic rival for the leading man’s affections, though. Kurumi isn’t just nice to those that she wants things from--she’s nice to everyone, and manages to manipulate others without them even noticing it. This makes her conversations with Sawako, in which she cheerfully describes how Kazehaya is a wonderful boy who goes out of his way to talk to outsiders and subtly pushes Sawako away from him, rather painful to read. Our heroine is, thankfully, too oblivious to be truly upset by these insinuations, but the way that Kurumi tears down Sawako and Kazehaya’s developing friendship while keeping a smile on her face is appropriately loathsome. And Sawako is no doormat either, as proven when she finally goes against one particular request that Kurumi makes.
There’s something irrationally charming about the repetitive nature of this series; no matter how many times Sawako and Kazehaya blush awkwardly at each other, it’s still adorable. The characters, particularly Sawako, all have such warm interactions with each other that it never gets old. There are no generic friends who exist solely to be a sounding board for the heroine or to forward the plot; they all have their own unique purpose and personalities. Kurumi’s introduction also brings a new source of tension to the equation, and though the “love rival” is often a frustrating aspect of a series, she’s been created with enough subtlety and realism to feel like an actual character, not just a roadblock for the main couple. It’s also a far more believable plot device than bringing in another love interest for Sawako, who is too naively oblivious to handle even one. The only real negative about Kurumi’s introduction is that it draws away attention from the original group of friends, but there’s enough hanging out down in the first few chapters to make up for the lack of it in the second half. It’s also nice to see Sawako branching out a bit, because her evolution as she meets and interacts with new people is one of the highlights of her character. And, either way, this volume continues to prove that while Kimi ni Todoke isn’t perfect, it is the best of the light, sugary-sweet manga series out there.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left