Volume four was a tough one for our heroine, Amu, whose self-confidence was shaken to the core by the departure of Nadeshiko, the arrival of new Guardians, and the appearance of an “X” on her new diamond egg. Here in volume five, she’s finding her way back on track as everyone else falls to pieces. Yaya is feeling pushed out of her baby role by the brand new baby at home, Rima accidentally reveals her true self to her entire class, Kairi is falling too far in with the Guardians (especially Amu), and Tadase nearly loses his guardian character, Kiseki, to Easter’s latest scheme and his own self-doubt.
What really makes this story work is that the plot is just a vehicle for playing out the often painful internal growth of these young characters, and in this volume it is Tadase’s weaknesses that are most on display. While shopping for Guardian supplies, Tadase chooses a gift for Amu—a heart-shaped barrette that makes her look more like her transformed self, Amulet Heart. Amu’s dilemma here is not much different than that of other superheroes who must helplessly stand by as the objects of their desire fall for their alter-egos, except in this case, Tadase can’t pretend to be ignorant of her identity. The fact that Tadase can stand before Amu and knowingly declare his devotion to her would-be self is both incredibly true to horrors of young love, and quite revealing of how far Tadase has to go before his internal beauty will come close to matching what’s on the outside. All of these children are works-in-progress, of course, but it’s interesting to note that it is only young Kairi who, while facing personal demons greater than most, is able to say to Amu, “I like you just the way you are.”
This series continues to be fun, compelling, and unexpectedly insightful into the human heart, both young and old.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.