The final volume of the main story stumbles but doesn't fall when it shifts the focus to an outside character.
Writer/Artist: Aya Nakahara
Translation: JN Productions
Adaptation: Shaenon Garrity
What They Say
Risa and her friends are named to the graduation committee and get busy working on the yearbook and class performance. When Otani's photos go missing from the class album and other pranks highlight his height (or lack thereof), all fingers point to Risa. Who is behind this mischief--and why?! Risa Koizumi is the tallest girl in class, and the last thing she wants is the humiliation of standing next to Atsushi Otani, the shortest guy. Fate and the whole school have other ideas, and the two find themselves cast as the unwilling stars of a bizarre romantic comedy duo.
Graduation's right around the corner, and Risa and Otani's class is charged with coming up with a skit to perform at the graduation party. The one they choose? Issunboshi, a Tom Thumb-esque story about a tiny boy, with Otani naturally being forced into the lead role. The "Otani is short" schtick has been present throughout the entire series. After all, he is short, and Risa is tall. But this is the first time in a while that a major story line has revolved around his stature, and it made me realize that I hadn't missed those stories at all. When things start to go wrong because of sabotage, things get much better if only because it brings back the bickering between the two--and without any drama about whether they'll break up.
Unfortunately, the story isn't really focused on that, but on a new character who seems strangely interested in the couple's fate. She's a fellow graduate committee member, as well as one of Risa's co-workers. Things are never what they seem, and Abe is revealed to only be interested in making Kohori happy, which she thinks means getting him to date Risa. If there's one thing to be learned from the last fifteen volumes, though, it's that Risa can't help but meddle in others' affairs. Thus begins a two-chapter arc that involves the romantic fate of a new character I didn't like and my least favorite of the side-characters. The last volume began wrapping up the stories of most of the supporting cast, which I enjoyed, so it was strange to see the focus shift to the side. There's some focus on Otani and Risa, of course, but they remain too far in the background.
The last chapter might not be the most creative the series has ever produced, and in coming full circle, it reuses many past events. Risa and Otani show up late for the ceremony, and then they have to give the graduation speech at the last minute, where they make fools of themselves in front of the entire school: two scenes obviously included for the sake of pleasing fans. What is supposed to be a class video ends up focusing a lot on Risa and Otani, but it's still nice. And the final scene is just about the best send-off for the series that I can imagine.
What follows afterward is less impressive; it's a one-shot focusing on the real-life journey of the Teppei Koike, who played Otani in the live-action movies. Aya Nakahara manages to give it some charm, but it's a let-down after the delight that is the final chapter. Hopefully the volume of extra stories that Viz is releasing as "Volume 17" will remedy that by giving me a last taste of Love*Com comedy before we have to bid the series farewell