By Yuyuko Takemiya and Yasu. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jan Cash & Vincent Castaneda. Adapted by Will Holcomb.
Sadly, I’ve caught up with when I started to review the manga version of this series, hence the annoying 2 at the end of the URL. In the meantime, we were always going to get a book devoted to Kitamura at some point, and this is the book. Like Minori, he’s a seemingly goofy and eccentric friend, though his iss more genuine and less of a mask than Minori’s. The start of the book sees him devastated by a (hidden to the reader) declaration from Sumire, the current Student Council President. Unfortunately, after he snaps out of it he seemingly goes off the deep end, dying his hair blond and stating he’s not running for student council. thus shocking the entire school. Ryuuji and Taiga may be the only ones who can help him, but what is that help going to entail, and will it mean that the new student council president actually has to be Taiga?
That’s Sumire on the cover, and I suspect that fan opinion of her may be divided. She’s shown to be a flawed character whose reasons for doing what she did are in character but also immature. Unfortunately, we’re not shown that till the very end of the book, in a fantastic and brutal fight with Taiga (which ends with Taiga suspended for two weeks); till then, we’re told over and over again how perfect she is, and when she’s not absent from the book she’s making the situation worse. I liked her arc, but many might think “too little too late”, especially as she’s seemingly also written out here. Speaking of divided opinion, Kitamura gets this book for character development, but just like Sumire that involves being an immature child for most of the volume, doing things like “becoming a delinquent” as a cry for attention from someone who won’t give it to him. You sort of which Taiga would have beaten him up as well, though that’s not going to happen.
Much better handled are the rest of the main cast. Minori is still clearly recovering from the events of the last book, and still trying to find her feet around Ryuuji. I have suspicions about that, but will save it till it’s more obvious. Ami is simply fantastic, being at her bitchy arrogant best while also showing that she too is changing, though she’s not very happy about it at all. (Minori and Ami is a fan ship, and there’s a nice, if short, scene here for that ship). And then there’s our main couple, Taiga and Ryuuji, who have not yet realized that they love each other but both have independently realized that they can’t imagine living without each other. The series is now in its second half, so we need to start heading towards endgame. Taiga too has matured… though perhaps not enough to avoid getting suspended for beating the shit out of a fellow student.
So an excellent volume of Toradora… except that the two characters at the center of it are being very difficult and stubborn. Still worth reading.