By Karuho Shiina. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret (“Betsuma”). Released in North America by Viz.
I had a lot of questions at the end of Volume 8 that I wanted answered. Luckily, most of them are answered here, as we get a lot of resolution to various plot tentacles and head closer towards our leads becoming a couple. Though, word of warning, we still aren’t there yet.
I know that the focus of this volume is Sawako and Kazehaya, but I have to start off here by talking about Kento. Given that our two leads have so much trouble communicating, it’s somehow incredibly appropriate that everything that goes wrong in this volume (as well as one last thing going right) is the result of Kento simply talking and talking and NEVER SHUTTING UP. He is cheerfully trying to do what he thinks is best for everyone – but he’s wrong, and it takes the entire volume and a giant slap in the face from Kurumi (I hope people cheered) to make him see that. And so, when he realizes that his big mouth and misconceptions have screwed over everyone to date? He immediately goes to Sawako to talk to her some more, and tell her that he was totally wrong and he wished her good luck with Kazehaya. He’s such a contrast to everyone else in this manga my jaw almost drops.
Speaking of Kurumi, I never thought she’d become an audience identification character, but her ran to Sawako halfway through the book could almost have been the reader in many ways. It’s very easy to feel bad for her, even if you did dislike her at first. After all that sneaking around, she confessed straight out – and was rejected straight out. And now seeing the girl that she was rejected for being a giant coward is just too much to bear.
Is she really being cowardly, though? In many ways the entire plot of this series is ‘poor communication kills’, but nowhere is it hammered home more than in this volume, where not a page goes by without Kazehaya or Sawako misinterpreting each other, due to lack of confidence, poor verbal skills, and a whole lot of assumptions. It’s less surprising with Sawako, whose poor interpersonal skills are brought up when it’s noted how far she’s come with everyone EXCEPT Kazehaya. As for him, he gets less sympathy from most of the cast, especially Pin, who rather cruelly tells him to “just give up on her.”
Ayane and Chizu don’t get as much to do here except worry about their friend and constantly try to stop Kento from opening his mouth. Ayane’s reaction to Kento admitting he may have screwed things up is the comedic highlight of the volume. And Ryu too is almost absent, but that’s because he only gets involved when absolutely necessary – his line to Sawako “I don’t know if I should be saying this, but you need to explain yourself better.” is of course the entire book condensed into one remark. It’s also great that he tells her where Kazehaya is at the end.
“Did my words say what I wanted them to?” And so Sawako rushes off to find Kazehaya, and tracks him down to their classroom. And then… the book ends, in what is possibly one of the most frustrating cliffhangers I’ve seen in manga. We *desperately* want to see this resolved, want these two to finally get it, to see what they mean to each other. But now we must wait for Volume 10. In the meantime, what a great series.