Kare - First Love Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • 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. #02

By Mike Dungan     January 02, 2005
Release Date: December 15, 2004

Kare - First Love Vol.#02
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
The age-old dilemma of choosing between your best friend and the one you love is the lesson for the day for these bubbly high-schoolers. Insecure and bespectacled student Karin Karino experiences the bumpy ride of first love in this touching drama set against a backdrop of high school life. And living happily ever after isn't on the curriculum, as Karin finds herself the center of popular boy Kiriya's attention, as well as the bull's eye in embittered classmate Yuka's dartboard of hate.

When Karin becomes handsome Kiriya's object of affection, she wonders if she can truly deal with the consequences. Upon learning that Kiriya asked Karin to be his girlfriend, Karin's schoolmate Yuka bullies and pushes her down a stairway of depression. Later, Kiriya asks Karin to go on a trip over their summer vacation, but their plans take one wrong turn after another. Can Kiriya bring Karin happiness? Or does his love just spell trouble?

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Insecure Karin realizes she's in love with Kiriya, despite the fact she knows that her friend Yuka is interested in him as well. Kiriya has no interest in Yuka, as he can see right through her. When Yuka learns that Kiriya and Karin are dating, she finds more and more ways to bully Karin until she tries to break up with him. Fortunately, her quiet but cool friend Nanri is there to help her out. She dresses the timid Karin up in some sexy clothes for a night out on the town which leads to a confrontation with Kiriya. At school, Yuka's constant bullying of Karin has gotten so out of hand that even the people who side with her begin to sympathize with Karin.

Karin goes out with Kiriya on her first date, but she's so nervous, she doesn't know what else to do. She doesn't even know how to dress, so she wears her school uniform, which just cracks Kiriya up. She can't relax and worries about everything she does or says. Kiriya is finally able to help her relax, but when Karin gets home, her mother imposes a curfew on her. It angers Karin, because her parents have never shown any interest in her before, but she swallows her anger and tries to deal with it the best she can. When Karin's mother learns about Kiriya, she decides to force Karin to attend a cram school. Karin wants to go on a summer trip with Kiriya and friends to the beach, but with school, cram school, a curfew and trying to figure out how to get some extra money, she overstresses herself and collapses. It leads to the first real meeting between Kiriya and her mother.

Kare First Love isn't an especially unique story. If you've read Mars or Peach Girl, you'll be familiar with Kare. But that's not a bad thing. Kare First Love is a shojo teen romance done right, with very likeable characters it's easy to sympathize with. Normally, a girl this introverted and insecure would be annoying, but Karin's got spirit. When she's with Nanri or when Kiriya is able to bring her out of her shell, she delivers some great lines. Nanri is also great fun, giving some of the best lines in the book. The romance is especially tender, since we get to follow Karin's journey right along with her. Kaho Miyasaka is very good at letting us follow Karin's train of thought that leads her from one step in the relationship to the next. Miayasaka's art is very nice, with attractively drawn characters. Even the Kiriya's two goofball friends are well-done, if not exactly ready for the cover of GQ. I also like how Karin is drawn. She's quite beautiful, but not in a garish or obvious way. It's the sort of beauty most women have, but never realize it.

The cover has an orange-reddish backfround with butterflies everywhere. Over it is a picture of Kiriya looking handsome as he takes his coat off. The back cover continues the orange theme, with a small picture of Kiriya and Karin in an embrace. The art reproduction looks quite good. All the sound effects are translated and retouched into English, and the art retouch looks especially good. I didn't notice any obvious places where the Japanese text was removed and patched over, unlike some other titles I've seen recently. The English adaptation was quite good as well, reading smoothly and keeping the reader engaged in the story. The only thing I could see that I had cause to question was when Karin found a note in her locker that said "baka" but was translated as "slut." One wouldn't normally translate it that way, but simply saying "fool" or "idiot" just wouldn't convey the right emotion, so I'll have to give Viz this one. There are two pages of character profiles and story synopsis, and a note from the author at the end talking about her struggles with the front cover.

Overall, Kare First Love is getting a nice release from Viz and I'm quite happy with it. I'll admit I'm a sucker for a good shojo or shonen teen romance, and so far, Kare First Love is delivering the goods. I think shojo fans should be happy with this one. I know I am.


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