Shortcake Cake Volume 7 by suu Morishita
As I was picking up this volume of Shortcake Cake, I started thinking about how genuinely fond of many of the current Shojo Beat titles. It is quite an accomplishment to develop a line of manga that inspires the feeling that you are seeing a friend again when you get a new volume of a series in your hands, but so many of the current Shojo Beat lineup invoke that feeling for me. Shortcake Cake continues to explore the classic romantic tradition of a love triangle (or possibly quadrangle) as Ten now realizes that she has feelings for Riku after she originally rejected him. In a great scene that takes full advantage of the iconic setting of stairs leading up to a shrine, Riku asks Ten if she likes him, and after a few beats of silence and slightly shifting facial expressions, Ten breaks the tension by balling up her fists and punching herself on either side of her face. Riku grabs her wrists to ask what she’s doing, and she blurts out “I like you.” Morishita’s cinematic approach to paneling switches from character to character, incorporating silent reaction shots coupled with blushes and awkward glances that makes this love confession iconic.
One of the things I like about this series is the way it switches easily between emotional scenes and more comedic aspects of teenage life. Ten continues her confession by saying that she hopes she can make Riku like her back, and asks him to give her some time to win his affection. He says he’ll wait, and Ten thinks that she needs to make up for how she made Riku feel in the past. Ten decides that she’s going to actually attempt to be feminine, and what follows is a crash course in skin care and makeup application from Ageha. Ten also attempts to mirror Riku’s body language to deepen their connection in a hilarious scene. While Ten flits around trying out random advice from friends, Riku seems fairly patient and low key, except when he has to deal with an attempt to clear the air from Chiaki. In settings that recall the places where they’ve spoken in the past, Ten and Riku are open with their feelings and embark on an actual relationship.
With the way this series is developing, I’m not expecting the love confessions in this volume to be the last ones, which is a good thing because Morishita executes them so well. It is pretty adorable seeing Ten and Riku together and on the same page, but I’m very curious to see what happens when Rei figures out what is going on. Rei is largely absent from this volume, except for a single vignette after the main story, so I’m expecting him to show up soon. Shortcake Cake presents teen romance with a depth and emotional resonance that sets it apart from many other series. I’m still unsure who Ten is going to end up with, and that continues to keep me intrigued as a reader.