Kimi ni Todoke, Vol. 21

By Karuho Shiina. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret (“Betsuma”). Released in North America by Viz.

I’ve been reviewing this title in the ‘Bookshelf Briefs’ section for a long time. There’s been a lot going on since my last review, but one thing that amused me is that I was discussing Kento never shutting up, saying the wrong thing, and generally being extroverted all over the pages of what’s trying to be a quiet, peaceful manga. And hey, guess what’s still happening! After a brief period where I was beginning to like him and hoping he and Yano would work out, he’s back to being my least favorite. Meanwhile, another old villain makes a reappearance, and as she has in the past, spurs Sawako to try to apply herself and chase her dreams.


Given how Kurumi was originally introduced to act as a contrast to Sawako’s purity and general niceness, it’s highly amusing to see that they both want to pursue similar careers – though only Kurumi really gets this, and she is properly annoyed by it. In fact, Kurumi spends most of the volume on a low boil, possibly as all the main characters have hooked up with each other and she’s watching them all be happy. But Sawako has bigger concerns – she’s finally found happiness with Kazehaya, and while she doesn’t want to leave the town, she does envision going to a college that would temporarily separate them. While Kazehaya knows this and decides to try to pull his grades up so that he can go to college as well, he makes it clear to Sawako that this is her choice and she should feel confident in it. As always, they’re both really sweet.

Yano has never been described as sweet, but she’s usually tried to be the most mature of the bunch, and the most level-headed. Now we’re starting to see that facade crumble, particularly around Pin, who is easily able to see through her facade to the anxious teenager beneath it. And it’s fairly clear that, while Yano is happy with what she currently has with Kento, he’s not really factoring in what she really wants – college in Tokyo, a much farther distance away than the others are talking. It’s also far more difficult, and Pin admits she needs to pull her grades even higher if she wants sure success. (Pin is pure awesome in this volume, by the way, and while teacher/student romances are iffy, I totally get why this is also a ship.)

So while Yano frets, Kento is there… to propose to her, saying he wants to spend the rest of his life waking up next to her. Kento has always been forward and blunt, but my jaw actually dropped at this moment, and I wondered if it was a setup for something more. I got my answer later in the volume, where Pin has a disastrous meeting with him, where Kento admits he’d like to study interior design, but going to the same college as Yano is more important. His face in this scene is a sort of goofy, happy-go-lucky type that makes me want to hit it, as he’s not thinking about Yano here at all. To make things worse, she actually hears this outside the teacher’s office. Kento wants Yano as his girlfriend/wife, but seems to take it as read that she’ll be OK with this. And she isn’t.

A cliffhanger seems to show Kento starting to realize that something is wrong, but we’ll have to wait for a bit to see if it sinks in, or if things continue to go south. In the meantime, this remains must-read shoujo, and if you dislike angst, there’s always Sawako and Kazehaya, whose stressful situations are resolved through honest communication. Funny, that.

Bookshelf Briefs pointer

I knew I forgot something this week. For those who read my reviews by category (like me), I have reviews of Kimi ni Todoke 10 and Velveteen & Mandala in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs.

Kimi ni Todoke Volume 9

By Karuho Shiina. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret (“Betsuma”). Released in North America by Viz.

I had a lot of questions at the end of Volume 8 that I wanted answered. Luckily, most of them are answered here, as we get a lot of resolution to various plot tentacles and head closer towards our leads becoming a couple. Though, word of warning, we still aren’t there yet.

I know that the focus of this volume is Sawako and Kazehaya, but I have to start off here by talking about Kento. Given that our two leads have so much trouble communicating, it’s somehow incredibly appropriate that everything that goes wrong in this volume (as well as one last thing going right) is the result of Kento simply talking and talking and NEVER SHUTTING UP. He is cheerfully trying to do what he thinks is best for everyone – but he’s wrong, and it takes the entire volume and a giant slap in the face from Kurumi (I hope people cheered) to make him see that. And so, when he realizes that his big mouth and misconceptions have screwed over everyone to date? He immediately goes to Sawako to talk to her some more, and tell her that he was totally wrong and he wished her good luck with Kazehaya. He’s such a contrast to everyone else in this manga my jaw almost drops.

Speaking of Kurumi, I never thought she’d become an audience identification character, but her ran to Sawako halfway through the book could almost have been the reader in many ways. It’s very easy to feel bad for her, even if you did dislike her at first. After all that sneaking around, she confessed straight out – and was rejected straight out. And now seeing the girl that she was rejected for being a giant coward is just too much to bear.

Is she really being cowardly, though? In many ways the entire plot of this series is ‘poor communication kills’, but nowhere is it hammered home more than in this volume, where not a page goes by without Kazehaya or Sawako misinterpreting each other, due to lack of confidence, poor verbal skills, and a whole lot of assumptions. It’s less surprising with Sawako, whose poor interpersonal skills are brought up when it’s noted how far she’s come with everyone EXCEPT Kazehaya. As for him, he gets less sympathy from most of the cast, especially Pin, who rather cruelly tells him to “just give up on her.”

Ayane and Chizu don’t get as much to do here except worry about their friend and constantly try to stop Kento from opening his mouth. Ayane’s reaction to Kento admitting he may have screwed things up is the comedic highlight of the volume. And Ryu too is almost absent, but that’s because he only gets involved when absolutely necessary – his line to Sawako “I don’t know if I should be saying this, but you need to explain yourself better.” is of course the entire book condensed into one remark. It’s also great that he tells her where Kazehaya is at the end.

“Did my words say what I wanted them to?” And so Sawako rushes off to find Kazehaya, and tracks him down to their classroom. And then… the book ends, in what is possibly one of the most frustrating cliffhangers I’ve seen in manga. We *desperately* want to see this resolved, want these two to finally get it, to see what they mean to each other. But now we must wait for Volume 10. In the meantime, what a great series.