My Love Story!! Volume 13 by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko
I had postponed reading the final volume of this series because I didn’t want it to end, but my curiosity about the conclusion helped me deal with my final volume procrastination syndrome. The final story arc was set up previously, with impending separation between Takeo and Yamato. I’ve probably been watching too many k-dramas where a couple gets separated and then they meet again 3 years later, but one of the refreshing things about this manga is that it actually deals with the problems of long-distance relationships instead of just conveniently fading to black and glossing over the separation period.
One of the hallmarks of this series is that in addition to the interest created by having a hulking giant of a boy as the main character in a shoujo series, My Love Story!! is able to step through some conventions shoujo plot elements and make them seem fresh due to the way the manga is infused with so much enthusiasm and heart. When Yamato goes to Spain Takeo is determined to bring his grades up so they can eventually go to the same college. He throws himself into studying with Suna constantly at his side. The unique circumstances surrounding Takeo and Yamato’s provide an opportunity to visit again with characters from throughout the series, as it seems everywhere Takeo goes someone feels the need to encourage him in his epic romance.
There are some hilarious scenes as Takeo goes to Spain in order to visit Yamato, and while a manga series set in high school ending at the point when the characters are about to head off to college is extremely typical, My Love Story!!, as always, ends on a note of such infectious optimism that I put the book down with a smile. This is going to be one of those series I keep around and read whenever I need to cheer myself up.