By Ema Toyama. Released in Japan as “Watashi ni xx Shinasai!” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Nakayoshi. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.
I do enjoy mocking Missions of Love when I discuss it in my Manga the week of and Pick of the Week posts, saying that it’s gleefully trsahy and soap-operaish and that it’s like mainlining shoujo heroin. Which is true, but I worry that people may think this means that I’m enjoying it ironically in a Sharknado sort of way, and that could not be further from the truth. Trust me when I say that Missions of Love is an excellently crafted title that is a lot of fun to read. It just happens to also be gleefully trashy, etc. This new volume is particularly good in showing off the reasons why I enjoy it.
The big development in this volume is the return of Yukina’s preschool teacher, the one whose remark about her eyes led to a major breakdown by our heroine. Toyama has come back to this occasionally over the course of the series, usually when trying to give Shigure the upper hand by having him take off Yukina’s glasses. Now she runs across her former teacher (who looks as if he hasn’t aged a day in the last 10-11 years), and everything comes rushing back… including her old feelings, as she now realizes that the reason that his comment hurt so much is that she was in love with him. This is then followed by Shigure realizing that, although he’s dated a lot of women casually before, Yukina is the one who is *his* first real love.
Part of the reason this manga is so addictive is that the characters can turn personalities on a dime. This makes sense; they’re middle schoolers in love, at just the right sort of age where all that is still malleable. I know there were a few reviewers (possibly including me) who were very happy with Yukina as the ‘snow princess’ sort who did not understand this Earth thing called kissing, but she’s merely emotionally repressed, not emotionally stunted. When she loses control, as we see a few times in this volume, it can be quite explosive. (And quite erotic, as Shigure also finds. I’ve noted before that the style of this work seems to edge towards the top end of Nakayoshi’s readership… there’s nothing explicit, but there’s some very hot and heavy kissing here.)
The major surprise of the book comes towards the end, however. Yukina is now determined to repair the relationship with her old teacher, or at least tell him what happened. A jealous Shigure goes to confront him first… and finds the teacher is very adept at finding out who Shigure is, and equally adept at a ‘false front’. It’s menacing to Shigure, yes, but I appreciated the teacher noting that it’s Yukina’s decision about what to do with her life, and that neither Shigure nor Akira can make it for her. This is something you don’t often see in this genre, and it’s appreciated.
I didn’t even mention Akira and Mami much, who provide what is both the funniest and most heartwarming scene in the entire volume. (They’d clearly make a great couple once they get over their first loves.) Mami’s Yukina impression is AMAZING. And let’s not forget Yukina attempting to ask Mami’s advice by dragging her headfirst out of a classroom window. In case you were worried about the cast turning normal now that the romance has heated up, don’t worry, they’re all still strange. So while this still feels like it should be bad for you, read it anyway, because it’s damn tasty.