Kare - First Love Vol. #03 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-701-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Kare - First Love Vol. #03

By Mike Dungan     June 14, 2005
Release Date: March 15, 2005

Kare - First Love Vol.#03
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
Awkward and insecure student Karin Karino experiences the bumpy ride of first love in this touching drama set against a backdrop of high school life. Living happily ever after isn't on the curriculum, and Karin soon 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.

Karin and her friends begin preparations for their trip to Okinawa, and Kiriya's past slowly unravels after his father forbids him to go on the trip. Karin and Kiriya's relationship blossoms, but intimacy rises to the surface of the turbulent sea of young love as the pressure to give in torments romance newbie Karin.

The Review
The cover is a beautiful image of Karin dressed to kill in a black lace dress, holding some black flower petals in her hands, all against a blue border. The back cover continues the color scheme, with text in the middle of the page and a small image of Karin and Kiriya looking at a book together. It's all rather attractively designed, though I'm not sold on the font used for the back cover copy.

In some ways, it can be said that Kaho Miyasaki's art work is fairly typical for teen romance shoujo manga. The women are attractive, the men beautiful, and there are plenty of screentone sparklies in the background. However, her work does manage to stand on its own. Her character designs are better than most. She's especially good at portraying the subtle beauty of Karin, as well as showing off some good comic timing. An image of a drunk Karin blowing across the top of a bottle while Kiriya is trying to have a serious talk with her cracked me up. The art reproduction is quite good with only a couple of instances of larger blocks of screentones showing the moiring from scanning. Otherwise, more subtle screentones look good and individual shades come out clean and sharp.

Kelly Sue DeConnick's adaptation is very good, with sharp wit and clever timing. Nothing sounds awkward or stilted. I'm left with the impression that it reads as naturally to us as it did to it's original audience in Japan. The sound effects are edited from Japanese to English. It's well handled, with virtually no telltale signs that it was ever in any language other than English.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Karin is enjoying being in love with Kiriya, but it's all new a not a little unsettling for her. The relationship is continuing to progress, and Karin can't stop thinking about having sex with him. The problem is that she's just not ready. A school trip to Okinawa means time alone with Kiriya. Swimsuits. Romantic moods. It's all just a little too much for Karin to handle. But she wants to go, so she gets a part time job as a waitress, on Kiriya's condition she wear glasses and wear her hair frumpy so guys won't hit on her. It works so well, that her new coworker doesn't recognize her: Yuka, Karin's "best friend" and worst enemy. The trip is in jeopardy when Kiriya's father arrives out of nowhere and all but kidnaps his soon. A rather violent confrontation with Kiriya's step-sister Shoko has Karin scared, and the days pass without any word from Kiriya. But finally, he returns, and the trip is on, with Shoko in tow.

Once on vacation, events lead to Kiriya finally opening up to her about his brother and why the family was so against him going to Okinawa. A final emotional confrontation with Shoko resolves issues, but with the big angsty drama out of the way, Karin is back to fretting over sex. Nanri is no help, pushing Karin towards it. Karin's own lack of self-esteem, coupled with Kiriya's surprisingly awkward advances, keep them from getting closer. Back in Tokyo, things keep getting more and more rocky between them. It all comes to a head in a rather public way at the culture festival at Kiriya's school, leaving them both hurt and confused.

Sometimes, I just want to reach in the book and shake these two until they straighten up. It's a sign I like them and care about what's happening to them. Karin's fear of intimacy is a little extreme, but it's honest and understandable. Kiriya's awkwardness is well-portrayed as well, making the downward spiral of their relationship sad but believable. Of course, this being shoujo high school romance, they will resolve their issues, but the trip between here and there is what makes it so much fun. It's a trip I plan to take with them as each volume comes out.


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