If the first volume of Kare Kano was the start of a roller coaster ride, where adrenaline is high, this was like the end of the ride, where we come back to earth and return to our daily lives. Not much substantial stuff happens in this volume; we just see Yukino and Arima settle in their ways some more. Which isn’t a bad thing!
The first part of this volume irons some kinks out in Yukino and Arima’s relationship. Mainly, Yukino is still trying to put on a front to appease her peers. Arima calls her out for this, since it goes against the things she told him a few chapters ago. Also, Yukino realizes she never confessed her true feelings to Arima, which would elevate them from friends to romantic partners. The first chapter sees her go through those motions before she’s able to do so, and from the second chapter on, they’re officially together. The second just sets the expectation that because they’re so busy, they have to make time for each other if they’re truly committed. It’s a thoughtful, realistic idea to convey, but it didn’t make for compelling storytelling.
After these chapters, the rest of the chapters introduce and develop Hideaki, a creepy ladies’ man in Yukino and Arima’s school. He harasses Yukino mainly because he wants Arima to be part of some weird clique that attracts girls to his side. He calls her unattractive and does other stuff to hurt her. I didn’t really get his schtick at all; he was just all kinds of strange. I’m glad Arima called him out and put him in his place. It was nice to see him make up with Yukino, too, but I hope we don’t see him around too much.
In writing this post, I had to go back and flip through the book to recall plot details. Sad to say, this volume just wasn’t as memorable as the first. Granted, I don’t know how you could conceivably follow up a volume about such a wacky girl antagonizing, then later falling for, her male rival, but still. Hideaki doesn’t add much to the plot. His motives are dumb, and he doesn’t elicit any kind of charm or humor to make me like him. I just kind of wanted him to go away.
At least the art is pretty. Some reviews I’ve read give Tsuda grief for having such standard shōjo face structure, but I love the big eyes. I especially love her use of space and limited color in scenes to convey a character’s feeling. In the scene where Yukino subtly confesses to Arima, you see a breeze in the classroom as the walls and students start to fade away. I felt it effectively depicted the feeling of the confession. This is immediately preceded by a full page spread where Arima turns to Yukino, blushing, then later starts to blush on his own, sharing their own feelings above their desks. It was pretty touching.
Kare Kano was written and illustrated by Tsuda Masami. It was serialized in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine from 1996 to 2005, and it was later collected in 21 bound volumes. The series was licensed for release in North America by Tokyopop, who released all 21 volumes between 2003 and 2007. This release is now out-of-print.