This volume sees Yukino and Arima’s relationship deepen. After spending some time with Yukino’s friends, we can finally get some of the core romance back.
The first chapter of this book continues the story of how Yukino’s parents met and fell in love. If the chapter that closed volume 5 is more happy go lucky, this one takes a more somber tone, as it primarily deals with the death of Hiroyuki’s grandfather. It’s a fluffpiece to be sure, but it’s a sweet story of how Yukino’s parents grow closer.
The remaining chapters reunite Yukino with Arima, and the drama is taken up a notch or two over these chapters, now that they’ve spent a lot of time apart. Yukino’s friends comment that Arima’s in better shape now than he was before, and Yukino shares the sentiment when she finally sees him again.
The main hurdle here, that I didn’t really get, is Yukino feels guilt for never confessing her feelings to Arima. Arima is being open about his feelings and expressing them to Yukino, and Yukino runs away when he gets pushy. Her whole thing is that she never told him she loved him.. but I feel like over the last several volumes, she has instead shown Arima how she feels. Like in volume 2, rather than telling him, she holds his hand in class. It’s a tender moment that says everything you need to know, and I thought that really worked. I can understand being young and needing things explicitly stated, but here, Yukino doesn’t express doubt about how she feels for Arima, or how she thinks Arima feels for her. She seems to have a good idea of the quality of her relationship, so I felt the conflict was a bit out of character for her.
She lays her feelings out for him later in the book, though, and from there, their relationship starts to grow stronger. They even say to each other that they live without doubt about each other. It starts to get intense when Arima, in a chapter told from his point of view, says he wants to physically consummate his love for Yukino. He eventually expresses this to Yukino, clumsily, but Yukino gets it, and somewhat suddenly… it happens. It’s a relatively graceful exchange – subtle enough that I almost didn’t even catch it until they started to talk about it afterwards – and it certainly drives the relationship forward.
Things are not entirely peachy, though, as we start to see the inner thoughts of Arima personified as a version of himself with a dark aura, embodying self-doubt and self-hate that he possesses. The chapter from Arima’s perspective centers on him visiting his real family, who don’t treat him well at all. Though he has loving, stable parental figures, it’s not a stretch to say that the stress brought on by his blood relatives could cause a doppelgänger to manifest. It seems like this will be a focal point for drama in later chapters.
I’m kind of mixed on this volume. On the one hand, it brings the focus back to Yukino and Arima, and I think I like reading about them far more than I like reading about Yukino’s friends. (Side note: Maho tells Yukino she’s dating a 28-year-old dentist, and given that Maho is a high school sophomore, I wanted to call the police.) I felt a lot more energized reading this volume. On the other hand, the central conflict in the first part of the book didn’t resonate with me. Yukino anguishes over not explicitly saying how she feels about Arima, but from my perspective, her actions plainly lay out how she feels about him, such that I don’t think it’s ambiguous at all. They’ve spent time together, talked on the phone, sent each other letters.. is it really that essential? Maybe it’s because I’m nearly 10 years older than the cast of this story and its target demographic, but I felt like Yukino has done plenty to demonstrate her affection and could probably use an adult to tell her this.
That said, I did like the new developments towards the back of the book. The physical activity is… something, but more than that, Arima’s inner turmoil can set up some effective drama for later chapters. It’s important to have self-love in a relationship, and it makes sense for Arima to struggle given his background. I’m interested to see how this could develop.
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.