By Izumi Tsubaki
Viz, 200 pp.
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Volume three opens as Chiaki and the other members of the Massage Research Society begin a massage competition along with students from several other schools, including Mihime, a boy who made Chiaki collapse with only the power of his voice. The students compete vigilantly (if not always fairly) and Chiaki is feeling the pressure by the end, only to be revived by the appearance of Yosuke, whose presence reminds her how much she loves massage. This volume also contains some wackiness involving a rival school’s newspaper, Mihime’s odd obsession with Chiaki (and his oddness in general), and another student’s mistaken gender identity, but the real story in the last half of the volume revolves around Chiaki’s realization that her feelings for Yosuke may extend beyond her desire to massage him.
What’s frustrating about this series is that though it possesses all the crucial elements of a fun shojo romance—a heroine and hero with real chemistry, a unique premise, and a likable cast of supporting characters—it seems to go out of its way to focus on the least interesting aspects of those things. The relationship between the two leads has remained largely stagnant since the first volume, the massage club premise has become tedious and alternately ludicrous and cerebral, and the believability of the supporting characters has been pushed far beyond normal limits. Only three volumes in, the series still has a chance to recover itself and take advantage of the potentially successful elements with which it began, but for the moment it remains a fundamentally unsatisfying read.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.