Kimi ni Todoke 8
April 3, 2011
Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2011 – 13+ volumes
You know, reading this got me thinking. I was praising Dragon Girl for having a strong heroine who wasn’t afraid to be herself, but also wasn’t the stereotypical butt-kicker or aggressive girl in charge. And it’s true that many shoujo series feature timid heroines that are too afraid to speak up to their crush or stand up to people who bully them. This volume is all about how Sawako is growing increasingly more flustered around Kazehaya and doesn’t know what to say to him or how to approach him. But what makes Sawako such a great heroine, someone who’s easy to root for, where so many others are completely forgettable and mostly annoying with their weak will?
I think it’s that Shiina does such a good job of showing us just how introverted Sawako really is. Sawako has a limited circle of friends, and is a real homebody. She’s just learning how to deal with people. It would be truly devastating if she were to get her heart cruelly broken, though I’m not sure it would be so disastrous if Kazehaya politely turned her down and continued to be her friend. And it’s a lot of fun to see Sawako’s friends guide her through the process of building a relationship with Kazehaya, supporting her all the while. It’s a very positive, supportive environment, and even the moments of drama are wonderfully handled and turn into time well spent.
This volume is all about fine-tuning the relationship between Sawako and Kazehaya. Both are growing unsure about how to respond to one another, and it becomes clear that Kazehaya feels the same way about Sawako as she does about him. But Kazehaya is scared of pushing Sawako into a relationship, afraid she would go out to him as a sort of friendship obligation and never really tell him if she didn’t really love him. The concerns on both sides are well-considered and unusually touching and valid, and watching the supporting cast trying to push both characters together is also a lot of fun.
A new character named Kento Miura (which cracks me up every time he appears since I can only think of Kentaro Miura, the artist of Berserk… a connection that is probably near-impossible to make if you were reading this series in Japanese) appears in this volume when the characters switch classes for their junior year, and he sends red flags up in my mind. Outwardly very kind and outgoing, he goes to great lengths to draw Sawako out of her shell and make her smile and act comfortably around others. But he’s also rather bossy in his outgoing nature, and Ayane and Chizuru both put up their guard against him. He also easily spots that Kazehaya favors her, and has a couple talks with him that throw Kazehaya’s relationship with Sawako into doubt. And yet it doesn’t seem like Kento wants to date Sawako, or is even trying to lead her on in that respect. It just looks like he’s trying to be a friend and look out for her best interests.
Again, this is one of my absolute favorite shoujo series running at the moment, and I adore every new volume to pieces. While the situations aren’t that unusual for a shoujo manga, it has a wonderful cast of characters that make it very unique. This volume makes it seem like the situation between Sawako and Kazehaya may be settled quite soon, and it leaves off with a wicked cliffhanger that will make the wait to volume 9 a very long one.
This volume was provided by Viz.