Shortcake Cake, Volume 8 By suu Morishita
Some shoujo series have fast-paced drama, and others have stories that unfold much more slowly like Shortcake Cake, which finally gets around to hinting at more details between the oddly hostile relationship between Riku and Rei. Morishita’s is so great at presenting her story with a slow, slice of life feel that I don’t feel annoyed at all that I was waiting until volume 8 to get a few more clues about Riku’s past.
This volume is set during Christmas and New Year’s and Ten decides to take Riku on a date to her hometown, where she gives him a tour of all the places that were meaningful to her during her childhood, and they drop in on her parents and her older brother. It might be way too early for Riku to meet her parents, but he carries off the surprise visit with his characteristic aplomb. Ten and Riku enjoy actually being able to spend time together since they have to keep apart and pretend to not be dating at the boarding house. Ten wants to continue to support Riku and get to know him better, but she senses some inner pain that she’s not able to interpret or help with. Ten and Chiaki decided to team up to learn more about Riku because they both want to support him. Ten ends up reaching out to Shiraoka, who has a bit of a messy approach for telling them what he knows about Riku’s past, setting up a situation where they end up witnessing a painful family confrontation.
I always enjoy the way the story in Shortcake Cake is tied so closely with the seasons, as Ten and Riku share some cozy winter bonding time, the image of red lights on the snow suggests both festivities and danger, and the rain during a memorial services highlights the emotional state of the characters. Even when the characters are dealing with some heavy emotional burdens, the pacing and execution of Shortcake Cake makes it feel like a brief escape from the real world while reading it.