Kare - First Love Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-394-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Kare - First Love Vol. #01

By Mike Dungan     October 19, 2004
Release Date: August 01, 2004

Kare - First Love Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kaho Miyasaka
Translated by:Akira Watanabe/Kelly Sue DeConnick
Adapted by:

What They Say
The age-old dilemma of choosing between your friend and the one you love is the lesson for the day for these bubbly high schoolers. 16-year-old Karin Karino finds herself torn between keeping the friendship of her classmate Yuka and entertaining the advances of a boy named Kiriya. Plain-Jane Karin experiences the gut-tingling roller coaster ride of her first love and first kiss as fate pairs her up with Kiriya, who also happens to be Yuka's object of affection. Through a series of chance meetings, Kiriya discovers the exquisite beauty lurking behind Karin's thick glasses and coy demeanor, and asks her to be his girlfriend. But living happily ever after in high school isn't on the curriculum, as Karin soon finds herself the center of Kiriya's attention, as well a the bulls eye in embittered pal Yuka's dart-board of hate.

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Karin doesn't much like herself. She's plain and wears thick glasses. The daily torture of the train ride to school is made even worse when a group of boys from a private boys high school make fun of her. At school, her friend Yuka isn't much help. Easy with an insult and demanding of Karin's homework so she can finish hers, she's not much of a friend at all. Her other friend is the quiet but beautiful Nanri. There seems to be a lot more to her than she's showing, but her cold demeanor keeps anyone from getting too close to her.

After school, Karin meets the boys from the train. One of them, Kiriya, waited for her outside the school gates so he could return a book she dropped on the train. It's a book of photography from a photographer he admires. When Yuka sees him (and how handsome he is), she's all set to go out on the town with him. Despite Karin's obvious misgivings, they throw together a quick party and head out to Shibuya to have some fun. Unfortunately, Karin's still in her school uniform which limits their options on where they can go. Kiriya takes her and ditches the group to help her buy a good cheap outfit so they can all hang out together. The relationships all start to form here, as Kirya's friend Tohru is interested in Fuka, who's interested in Kiriya, who's interested in Karin, who's interested in getting the hell out of there as soon as possible. She simplyt doesn't trust Kiriya. She thinks he's just making fun of her and she doesn't know what to do. Angry at herself for no knowing how to say no to people, she drinks herself silly. She later wakes up in a strange bed, with Kiriya looking down on her. Before she even has time to figure out where she is, he kisses her. Unfortunately, she has no time to react to anything, as it's already morning and they have to get to school. He gives her a ride on his motorcycle, which causes a stir at her school. Yuka's interested in Kiriya, and she let's karin know in no uncertain terms that he's hers. Unfortunately, for Yuka, Kiriya's interest in Karin is sincere, and he's not going to give up on her. Yuka pulls a dirty trick on Karin, but Kiriya sees right through her and calls her on it. Afterwards, Karin finds herself the subject of a lot of mean-spirited pranks and tricks, and she knows that Yuka is after her.

Karin is like a lot of high-school girls, extremely self-concious about her looks. Her lack of self-confidence prevents her from opening up and enjoying her life more. Kiriya's open interest in her slowly lets her see herself through someone else's eyes, and she's finally starting to like what she sees. Unfortunately for her, Yuka's cruelty won't let her enjoy her new life with Kiriya. Yuka reminds me of Sae from Peach Girl: the friend that's no friend at all. However, it looks like Yuka might have an ally in Nanri. She speaks little but when she does, it's something that Karin needs to hear. Kiriya loves to tease Karin, but later, when he realizes he's doing more harm than good, his contrition seems very sincere and makes him a much more likeable character. Miyasaka's art, though spare, does a good job of showing the emotions playing out inside her character's heads. She is also one of the few shoujo artists to really show the beauty of her main character without overdoing it. Regarding Yuka's feathered haircut, though, I have to wonder if she really meant it to look so '80s retro.

The art reproduction is very nice, with lots of detail. All sound effects are translated and retouched into English. The cover has an attractive picture of Karin without her glasses, with a whole lot of lavender everywhere. Editor Michelle Pangilinan has written an editorial about first love and trust, and there is a short black and white illustration gallery. Kelly Sue DeConnick's adaptation reads very naturally, which is good, as we get to hear everything Karin is thinking. That's something I really enjoyed about Kare First Love. Too often, the lead character in a shoujo romance does something that seems inexplicable, but with Karin, we hear everything she's thinking. Every confusion, every revelation, even good decision and bad decision is there for us to see, and it helps explain so much of what is going on. I enjoyed this story quite a bit, and look forward to more.


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