Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You), Vol. 3
By Karuho Shiina
Published by Viz Media
As Sawako becomes accustomed to having real friends, a whole new world opens up to her. Suddenly she’s being invited to dinner, enjoying giddy, pointless conversation, and having boys make excuses to walk her home. She lets her friends help her improve at sports and even learns to address a few of them by name–possibly the most difficult challenge of all. Unfortunately her newfound popularity (especially with school hottie Kazehaya) earns her the attention of one of adolescence’s least desirable entities: the love rival.
Though Kimi ni Todoke doesn’t attempt to be anything more than just another tale of teen friendship and love, mangaka Karuho Shiina uses the simplicity of her heroine so effectively, it actually feels as though she’s breaking new ground. Everything Sawako experiences in this volume–affection, attraction, even jealousy–is so genuinely new to her, it is able to become fresh again for readers as well. Perhaps the most satisfying thing in this volume, however, is watching Sawako begin to demonstrate her own personal strength, as she eventually does with a popular girl who tries to sabotage her budding relationship with Kazehaya.
Another of this series’ refreshing qualities is that Shiina consistently avoids letting her supporting characters fall into typical shojo traps. Just as Chizu and Ayane refuse to let nasty rumors destroy their newfound friendship with Sawako in volume two, Kazehaya seems unlikely to let his feelings be swayed by the machinations of Sawako’s “rival.” Whether this level of loyalty and self-awareness is authentic to the teenage experience is another question (it certainly bears little resemblance to mine) but perhaps this is the key to the series’ charm. For those of us whose teen years were truly isolating, Kimi ni Todoke is like a soothing balm, healing up old wounds one by one.
It is a pleasure to note that, three volumes in, this series has truly lost none of its original charm. With its unusually warm take on typical teen drama, Kimi ni Todoke provides a heartfelt testament to the sweetness of youth.
Review copy provided by the publisher.