By Kaneyoshi Izumi. Released in Japan as “Men’s Kou” by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Comic (“Betsucomi”). Released in North America by Viz.
We’ve almost finished with this short and enjoyable shoujo series. As we hit the penultimate volume, the main boys (well, the main straight boys) all have girlfriends of some sort or another. So we’re left with doing plots on side characters we haven’t seen much of till now, and working on seeing how well those relationships with the girls are being maintained. As always, communication is the key.
The first chapter shows us a girl who goes through guys like kleenex, and her platonic best friend who has tried going to Seiho to get away from the drama that is her life. Of course, ‘platonic’ in this case turns out to be as platonic as most other shoujo manga cute friendships. Maki manages to step in and show the two what everyone but them can see (and honestly, the girl gets it too), with that special blend of being a complete jerk for the right reasons that he does so well. Given that it’s all too easy to peg Maki into the ‘sweet’ hole, I like seeing him when he’s a bit of an asshole.
Next we’re back to Kamiki, with what was likely my favorite chapter of the volume. He’s come down with a bad cold, and is starting to lose the image that he projects so hard under a feverish glare of ‘you know what? I just don’t care anymore’. We see some shots of him as a child dealing with his somewhat scatterbrained mother. He acts the strong, always in control boy so he can please her… but then she worries he’s too stoic. Finding a happy medium is tough, especially when you’re busy burying most of your emotions. (Suddenly it’s easier to see why he might have fallen for his stepsister.)
It’s even harder when your girlfriend is acting a bit too clingy, and your best friend is trying to get a bit too involved in your life as always. Kamiki and Maki’s brief fistfight is not as startling as what he says, and despite it being due to a fever, I think Kamiki with the filter off is great at telling those little annoying truths. Maki’s dating a girl with the same name and a similar personality as his dead crush. Why wouldn’t anyone be wary of that? Heck, I’ve mentioned myself I keep waiting for it to blow up in my past reviews. Still, Maki’s rationalization is a good one, and I’m starting to think I may not get the full confession I was hoping for.
There then follows a weak chapter with a student teacher inspiring Maki to be an idiot. The chapter after that, however, tells Miyaki and Erika’s side of the Kamiki chapter, and shows how the two, despite being dissimilar, have become such good friends. It shows both of them not at their best – Miyaji overreacts to everything, and is constantly fretting, which Erika’s ‘I don’t need anyone or anything’ persona sometimes blinds her to when Miyaji needs a hug more than a kick in the pants – but the dynamic is excellent. I like that Miyaji, during their fight, can immediately tell that she hurt Erika, and how it gnaws at her. It makes her less of a giant flake, which she’s had a tendency to be in this series.
There’s another cliffhanger ending, this time playing on Miyaji’s insecurities, but given Vol. 6’s ending didn’t apparently do much I’m not sure if this one will either. Still, it’s another great volume of an underrated shoujo series, and with the next volume being the final one I hope that all our leads find some measure of happiness. Bittersweet endings can be nice, but I like sugary sweet better.