By Kazune Kawahara and Aruko. Released in Japan as “Ore Monogatari!!” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret (Betsuma). Released in North America by Viz. Translated by JN Productions. Adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane.
Like a lot of ongoing Viz titles, I haven’t actually reviewed this series in full since the first volume came out, saving my thoughts for a Bookshelf Brief. This is not to say I have not been loving the series, it’s one of my favorite recent shoujo titles. But it’s not something I really try to analyze deeply or get into the nitty-gritty of, more a manga that I can relax in after a long, hard day. It’s soothing. Even its dramatic tension was soothing. Critics have said that it’s a bit too sweet and sappy, and they are 100% correct. If you tend to gag on too much sugar, we may have lost you around the 10th time Takeo swooned and thought “I love her!” to himself. But now Yamato’s about to go to Spain. What will the long distance relationship become?
Obviously, this is a romance manga, and the thrust of the story is about Takeo and Yamato. It can get a bit ridiculous at times (I screwed up our relationship. I must FLY TO SPAIN to fix it!), but even that is so over the top and glorious that by the end you find yourself grinning like a loon. To no one’s surprise, Yamato’s running away from home did not pan out, so she does end up going to Spain for her senior year. The ‘relationship’ part of this separation goes quite well, but Takeo has a best friend to remind him to study so he can get into college, while Yamato lacks such a friend. And so she starts to fall behind, which leads to a series of brutal misunderstandings. And by brutal I mean “everyone immediately realizes what went wrong and yells at him to fix it”. It’s the final volume, we don’t need extended drama, we just need a montage of every supporting player since the start. And a punch. The punch was really good.
Speaking of the puncher, for all that it’s a romance manga, Sunakawa has been just as much of a major character as Takeo and Yamato. He gets a lot to do here, and I wonder if the authors were aware of all the theorizing about his sexuality that went on, as there’s something for everyone here. He and Takeo go on a vegetable-picking vacation with tons of BL subtext, and the final pages are basically Takeo hoping that Suna finds his own awesome girlfriend someday. As for me, I tended to see Sunakawa as asexual, and the manga does not disabuse me of that notion either – he cares deeply for Takeo, but simply lives at something of a distance from the other hormone-addled teens at his school. He was a terrific friend to the end, and the reason this manga works so well is the strength of his character in among the two lovesick doofuses.
And so we end with college, and with our couple together and (presumably) marrying soon. It’s a good ending to this sweet series, where the reader usually found themselves thinking “oh, that’s adorable!” at least four times a volume. Highly recommended to heart-on-your-sleeve shoujo romantics.