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.
I’d put off reviewing this final volume for a while. I’m a romantic sop at heart, and it has to be said that much of what we see here is bittersweet. But then Seiho hasn’t really been about the happy warm fuzzy moments of relationships in any case. This is realistic, and that’s not always pretty.
First off, Nogami and his nurse girlfriend don’t even get a mention. I guess we should assume they live happily ever… nah, I can’t. Presumably at some point Nogami says something colossally stupid and they break up. That leaves our two main couples, who have struggled with a) communication and b) how others see them since the start of this series, and it’s no different here. Miyabi has split up with Kamiki as she feels that she’s not cool enough to be seen beside him as his boyfriend. She also thinks of herself as stupid, which is questionable given how she shows easy flashes of understanding others in here. Kamiki is stubborn and understanding, though, and things eventually work out. Mostly, as it’s noted how fragile their relationship is.
Maki and Erika is another story. Having spent their entire time together talking around each other, it’s unsurprising to see their neither really knows how to read the other and see what the other one is thinking. And due to circumstances, Erika is leaving soon anyway. A lot of things come together here. The fact that they know little about each other; Maki jumping to conclusions; Erika having figured out that Maki is still in love with someone else (but not who it is)… and so they break up. (And the moment where Erika finds out about the other Erika, which I’d been waiting for for about 6 volumes, is actually very understated and quiet.) It’s very bittersweet, and though Maki indicates that he will definitely ask her out if he ever meets her again, it’s melancholy as well.
Still, the boys all move up to being third years, and Maki gets stuck with the RA job (which he’s perfect for, admittedly). All seems well. This means, like the first volume in this series, we have to end with a sleazy shoujo smut story complet4ely unrelated to Seiho itself. Reverse Guilt is about a former ‘princess’ whose grades weren’t good enough for an elite school and so is now shunned. She tries to hide from life, but has trouble with this as the hottest, jerkiest guy in school is in love with her. He used to be a poor, abused child. He isn’t anymore. More communication misunderstandings here, but this time it makes you yearn for the relative niceness of the Seiho cast. Even Nogami wouldn’t be quite as bad as the guy is in this short. There’s also some explicit sexual situations here, for those who note this is still rated OT.
Overall, despite that, the main series was a great pickup for Viz. I know it didn’t sell quite as well as their other licenses of this period, but then it’s not big or flashy. It’s a series about a bunch of goofy guys who remind us of ourselves, and their ephemeral high school years. Definitely a keeper.
Hey, Takano never found out that Maki’s old girlfriend had the same name! Grr…