Kimi ni Todoke 15

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2012 – 18+ volumes

This volume! I read it some time ago and probably just blocked it out because it made me cry so hard! Not fair!

There’s a little bit at the beginning about how Sawako and Kazehaya may be growing apart after the awkward, aborted kiss during the school trip, though others speculate that it might just be growing pains in their relationship. But! The real kicker here is the strain on the relationship between Ryo and Chizuru. Not only is the present situation very sad, and Chizuru’s conflict is portrayed quite well, there’s a flashback. The saddest flashback ever.

Chizuru in the present is quite touching. She thinks about how she needs to see Ryo and act normal. Then she thinks about all the things she and Ryo do together, and realize that all of it was too casual, now that she knows he likes her. She soon realizes she can never have any of that back, and it absolutely breaks her heart.

But we learn throughout the rest of the volume why the two of them are so close in the first place. Ryo and Chizuru’s families have always been close, and we see Chizuru and Ryo growing up together, with Chizuru’s eye constantly on Ryo’s older brother. But she’s also the only one that really understands the stoic, withdrawn Ryo, and is always explaining to others that he’s shy, or just doesn’t show how happy he is very well. This is a really charming and very cheery story until about halfway through, then it suddenly becomes hard to read. In a good way. I absolutely don’t want to spoil it, because I didn’t see the switch coming (although I totally should have), and it was a big part of what made this volume great. But so far, this is the best volume in what is already a pretty fantastic series. Skip Beat may be a lot funnier, but this series is the absolute best at portraying its characters in a (usually) very cheery, upbeat, drama-free, and very charming way. It’s also worth reading, and probably appeals to a slightly older crowd than most shoujo, too.

Good stuff. I’m on board for the long haul with this one.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 14

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2012 – 16+ volumes

Aww. I think we’re almost caught up to Japan, so volume 15 won’t be out here until November. I love this series to pieces, so the longer wait is going to be tough. Luckily, the plot is pretty easy-going, so there aren’t a lot of cliffhangers to suffer from.

Well, except for this volume. I’m dying to know what’s going on with Ayane, and Chizu’s relationships leave off in a bad spot as well. I say “bad,” but both are in more of a bittersweet transition moment. There’s not a whole lot of drama, so it didn’t leave me hanging off their every word and action. Still, they feel a bit closer and more human than other characters might in a more drama-tastic series, so I’m worried about them.

Ayane has a self-realization moment at the end of the volume. It’s a sad one, and one that’s easy to identify with. She also compares herself unfavorably to Chizu and Sawako, which I always find to be heartbreaking, especially when the character doesn’t hold it against the others. I can’t say I’m all that happy with the person who did the comforting, as I still have not warmed up to them. But maybe this person will prove themselves in coming volumes. There aren’t a whole lot of jerks in Kimi ni Todoke.

Anyway! The main point of this volume is that Sawako’s class is on a trip to Okinawa. There’s plenty of friendship bliss for Sawako to bask in, and for everybody, there are plenty of choice hand-holding moments. That includes Sawako and Kazehaya, of course, but a lot of their moments are also spent with friends. There’s still something so awkward and wonderful at all the pleasure Sawako takes from all this. It’s still the absolute joy of reading the series for me.

Most awkward and wonderful at all was a… private time scene between Sawako and Kazehaya. Aaahh. My little shoujo manga heart nearly exploded.

Hmm… as Ayane tries to figure herself out in this volume, there’s some talk with Pin. As much as such things bother me in other series… it bugs me a bit here, the implied student/teacher (and when I say implied, I mean so lightly implied that Pin is probably just going to be support for later on), but you know… it also doesn’t really. Perhaps because Pin is so immature to begin with. He seems a lot more like one of the students than teachers usually do. Perhaps emotionally younger, even.

Anyway, I can’t say too much more without giving it away. This series is paced fairly slow and might lack teeth for those that do like drama-filled series, but for me, it balances out my love for drama with a well-written series full of nice girls and a joie de vivre that a lot of series lack. It’s impossible to read a volume without finishing in a good mood, and it’s exactly what I needed to read lately.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 13

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2012 – 15+ volumes

Still so cute! I’m a little worried, though, that the series is still in a transitional period. Sawako and company go to the beach, Sawako meets Kazehaya’s parents, everyone goes on a school trip to Okinawa. Yano and Chizu are still getting their romantic lives in order. Kazehaya and Sawako are taking things slooooooowly. They try to call each other by their first names, but neither can quite manage it. I still like it, and it’s still cute, but as much as I adored the early volumes… now that Sawako and Kazehaya are together, I’m not entirely sure where the story is going from here. Sure, they can fumble their way through the steps of being a couple, and it’s adorable, but man. It’s been, what, three volumes? And they still can’t use first names? It’s in character, to be sure, but this is some slow stuff.

Still, I love it. One of the best things in this volume was a scene where Yano and Chizu go out with Sawako underwear shopping. Later, one of them tells Kazehaya that Sawako is wearing new underwear, and what they look like. This only adds to his embarrassment, and he can’t tell Sawako. Ryu questions him about it as well, and there’s a cute interrupting scene.

Also cute: Kazehaya’s younger brother. He does everything that Kazehaya can’t, including commenting on Sawako’s small breasts (which she seems cool with).

The parts with Chizu and Yano are intriguing. One gets a new boyfriend, and the other has to make a choice about Ryu. They’re not… really going out, but there’s clearly something there, and it looks like one or the other might be forced into action based on the cliffhanger at the end of the volume. But then again, maybe not.

While it does move slow, it always has, and it’s still incredibly adorable stuff. Volume 14 just came out, and I believe that basically catches us up to Japan (there’s a volume 15, but Viz usually runs about a year behind the current Japanese volume). The slow pace will probably be less of an issue if only 1-2 volumes of Kimi ni Todoke come out a year. I may save 14 for a rainy day, because I hate to think of this series being spoiled by reading too quickly. It really is an adorable look at a mutually happy couple exploring each other’s feelings, and the friends that help them do it. There’s nothing quite like it.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 12

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2012 – 16+ volumes

Aww. I was wondering where the story was going to go now that Kazehaya and Sawako are an item. I thought the focus might turn to the side characters, but this volume deals with how Sawako tells her parents about her new beau and how both she and Kazehaya deal with the overwhelming emotions they seem to have for one another.

The story spends a long time with Sawako’s internal monologues. She over-analyzes everything about her relationship with Kazehaya, and is confused about the fact that she wants to hold hands, hug, and kiss. Are these things okay? Is Kazehaya comfortable with her initiating something like this? How does she go about it? Do these feelings make her weird? How can she do these things like a regular girl? The musings are adorable, and what makes them even better is some of the frank discussion between Sawako and Kazehaya. Kazehaya is just as embarrassed and unsure as Sawako.

Seriously. If this series were any more adorable, I think my teeth would rot out of my head from the sweetness. I just can’t get enough.

The Sawako’s parents storyline is just as awkward and cute as the rest of the series. Sawako’s mom is totally cool about everything, and actually tries her best to make things as non-awkward as possible. Sawako’s dad is a lot like her, though, and it’s really funny watching he and Kazehaya interact.

The final story in the volume is about how Chizu and Yano became friends. I’m not going to spoil this one. As cute as the Kazehaya/Sawako stories were, this was my favorite chapter in the volume. I love that this series can make me like even the side characters this much.

I’m happy that the slow pace and awkward relationship is still so great this far in. Sawako’s honesty and earnestness is a big draw for me, and I’m glad that she’s developing enough to keep things interesting this far in. Kazehaya isn’t so bad himself, and again… all the side characters are interesting. I feel like there are a lot of stories that Kimi ni Todoke could tell, and all of them are probably worth reading. I’m also hoping that time will pass and the characters will age, too. At any rate, reading a volume of this series always leaves me smiling, and I’m glad that it’s remained one of my favorites for so long.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 11

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2011 – 14+ volumes

It’s really, really hard to follow up all the girly joy that the last volume had in it. While I am ridiculously addicted to this series, and I enjoy every volume, I will admit that this volume was a step back, simply because it mostly dealt with the less interesting aftermath of what happened last time.

There’s a whole lot of focus on the characters explaining things to one another, especially Sawako to Kurumi. The Kurumi scene happens right away, and not only does it take a bit to settle things between the two girls, there’s also some reflection on both sides about how that was dealt with, and some commentary from Ayane and Chizuru as well.

What I did like was that the story then began to slowly set up pairings for some of the side characters, especially Ayane and Chizuru. Both girls seem aware, vaguely, of developing feelings, and I’m curious to watch the story take its time with these relationships. I love how well the personalities of every single one of these characters is handled, even the b-list romantic interests here, so it’s hard for me not to root for this stuff now that the main event has transpired.

Kazehaya and Sawako go on an adorable date at the end of the volume, just to let you know that the series can still be all kinds of tooth-rotting adorable even though… well, the last volume happened. I don’t want to spoil this too much, but it’s really hard to predict how Sawako will act on a date, which still makes stuff like this awkward and adorable, especially since Kazehaya is so willing to accept everything.

I’m not sure where the story will go from here. This isn’t really a drama-heavy series, so maybe the story will shift over to side characters, which I don’t think I would mind at all. On the other hand, Sawako is a big part of why this is such a fun read, so maybe focusing on others wouldn’t be as interesting. Since this is mostly aftermath, the direction isn’t clear as of this volume, but I do know I’m pretty much guaranteed to be along for the ride.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 10

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2011 – 14+ volumes


Seriously. I had an adorable overload while reading this volume. There’s a good number of confessions. They were all so sweet I thought my teeth were going to rot out of my head. The first one is picture perfect, one of the best confession scenes in any shoujo manga I’ve read. Sawako and Kazehaya really are too much for words.

Unfortunately, I can’t really get more detailed than that, because I don’t want to spoil it.

I will say that the entire school joins in some good-natured teasing in the second half of the volume. While Sawako doesn’t really seem to mind, I would have absolutely died if this had happened to me. This was the stuff my high school nightmares were made of. Seriously. I wouldn’t have been able to show my face back at school in that situation.

But seriously. If you like shoujo manga, do yourself a favor and pick this up. This is one of the best series I’ve ever read in terms of pleasant, happy stories and straight-up uncomplicated shoujo romance. There are bumps along the way, but every step of the road to getting Sawako and Kazehaya together was worth taking, and every volume is an absolute pleasure to read.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 9

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2011 – 14+ volumes

I don’t know why I’m surprised every time a love confession happens before volume 17 of a shoujo series, but I am. I was still really enjoying this series without it, but volume 9 goes ahead and crosses that line.

Of course, this love confession doesn’t quite go the way you imagine. That surprised me a little too, since Kimi ni Todoke is all about sunshine and flowers. But this is probably the worst thing that has happened so far.

It’s interesting the way this is handled. Sawako and Kazehaya miss each other on a very fundamental level, and then don’t talk about it. It seems the situation can only get worse from there, but instead it’s an opportunity for all the people around Sawako to give her advice and gently nudge her in the right direction. Even after all this time, she lacks self-confidence, and that’s part of the problem. Kazehaya can only take so much, after all.

I can’t say too much without spoiling it more than I already have, but still. With addictive characters and the normal good vibes thrown so far out of whack here, I’m still really impressed by what this series has to offer.

Actually, this volume flew by, and it leaves off in a place that makes reading volume 10 immediately afterwards VERY IMPORTANT. I will do so now.

Kimi ni Todoke 8

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.

Kimi ni Todoke 7

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2011 – 12+ volumes

This series is still really, really adorable. A bright ray of sunshine, drama-free, and still possessing a cast of impossible-to-dislike characters.

This volume focuses on whether or not Sawako will be brave enough to contact her friends over the break with her new phone, even though she doesn’t really have any reason to call them. Ayane and Chizu are shocked by this, and tell her it’s okay. Sawako worries in particular about getting to see Kazehaya, but her friends talk her into inviting him on a group outing to a temple on New Year’s Eve. Adorably, Chizu and Ayane ditch Sawako so that it’s a date at the temple with Kazehaya. They spy, Kazehaya and Sawako are all kinds of awkward and adorable, it’s really a great bit of story.

The appeal is still in the innocent Sawako and the way her friends all treat her with the absolute most respect and care. Chizu and Ayane are the best people for her, since they have no problem being casual with her, making her feel comfortable, and instructing her on how to behave in casual society. Kazehaya is also a wonderful love interest, since he’s so clearly interested in Sawako and seems willing to wait until she’s ready for a relationship. It really looked like things were coming to a head in this volume, but it was not to be, and I find that I really don’t mind waiting through a few more adorable dates like this before they’re officially an item.

There was some potential drama in the last story, a Valentine’s Day story. Sawako doesn’t feel comfortable giving her homemade chocolates to Kazehaya, even though they are, of course, obligation chocolate and not romance chocolate. Seeing other girls give him some wrecks her momentum even more, and a confrontation with her rival more-or-less drives a nail in the coffin. And Kazehaya is very disappointed he doesn’t get any, but everyone else did. I would be, too.

I like different shoujo series for different reasons… We Were There for its soapy drama, Otomen for its sense of humor, and this is one of the best for being an absolute joy to read. There is rarely a dark cloud, and I know I will come out on the other side of the volume feeling elated. Sawako just has that effect on the reader. I would say it’s worth a look for every shoujo fan. It really is good stuff.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Kimi ni Todoke 6

Karuho Shiina – Viz – 2010 – 12+ volumes

Holy crap, the Chizu story made me cry. Like, three different times. It was so incredibly bittersweet. I was expecting more of a… I don’t know, a story where Ryu gets his heart broken and it’s some important life lesson for Sawako, who learns that sometimes two people don’t share the same feelings. Chizu and Ryu’s brother have a great dynamic, but I was not expecting the announcement that came. At all. Nor Ryu’s motives behind keeping his brother’s return from Chizu. There were just so many nice elements. Sawako and Yano’s complete loss as to what to do, the way Chizu wrestles with herself, the dynamic between Ryu and Chizu through the whole story, the nice walk with Ryu’s brother and the way he makes things right, and the final conversation with Ryu at the end. All of it was sensitive, touching, and just amazing in general. It nailed everything about those kinds of situations, the anger, the awkwardness, the love, the crushing, the longing, and spun it into something that made it look like a happy part of life rather than the end of the world. It took up most of the volume. I love that even the side characters get this kind of attention lavished on them, and that I like Chizu every bit as much as I like Sawako. What an amazing series.

I still like it’s positive mood. It’s still relatively upbeat, despite the themes in this volume, and I love that the most depressing thing that has happened so far is, at worst, bittersweet. The goodness in the heart of Kimi ni Todoke completely wins the day. I adore things like We Were There, and there’s a lot of emotional turmoil there, but I genuinely enjoy every page of this, it’s a guilt-free enjoyment.

The last story is about a conflict Sawako has about being invited to a Christmas party with her friends, whereas before she always spends it with her parents. I identified with this so much it broke my heart. Choosing your parents or your friends… I don’t know how much of a problem that actually is for most people, but man. That was always hard for me. I couldn’t bear to let my parents down when I still lived at home. I still can’t. Plus, the story had the extra gift-giving element. Sawako is such a sweet girl.

This is such a positive, happy series. It’s like the good twin to We Were There’s dark and somewhat depressing depiction of high school life. Now that we’re caught up on that, I’m happy I can read this to fill the void. I identify with this one a lot more, and it makes me happy to read it, so every volume pushes it a little farther up my list of favorites.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


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