This volume of Kare Kano does something I like and something I don’t like: it gives Yukino some solo tasks, which is great, then introduces another bit character, which is.. not great.
The volume opens with school back in session, and the cast is working on the upcoming culture festival. Yukino, who isn’t part of any club, is struggling to find a way to contribute to the festival. Her group of friends get the bright idea to write and perform a play and seek to get temporary club status so they can perform it.
In later chapters, we’re introduced to a new character, Tonami Takefumi. He seems mysterious in the beginning, but over the course of the volume, we learn that he went to school with Arima and Tsubaki in elementary school. He was bullied as a young kid for being overweight, and after being slighted by Tsubaki in those days, he moves away to Okinawa and reinvents himself into a basketball star. He transfers to this school in an attempt to get revenge on her, and for now, that’s kind of it.
This volume felt like a midway point between what’s come before and what will come later. I enjoyed the Yukino chapters; she’s a fun character to be around. Nothing substantial happens here, but it’s nice to see her so balanced and stable after the last volume’s drama. I don’t have too much to say about those chapters beyond that.
The chapters focused on Tonami, I wasn’t fond of. His character conceit is somewhat interesting, but in practice, he’s just kind of a dick to everyone, and you know from the start that his competitive feelings regarding Tsubaki are going to evolve into love later on. As I read more of these volumes, I find that my central interest is in Yukino and Arima growing more as a couple. There’s genuine tension there that can grow bigger and smaller as time goes on, and I enjoy reading that story. The side characters that populate Yukino and Arima’s lives are far less interesting. Hideaki did nothing for me when he was first introduced. Maho hasn’t contributed much after Yukino put her in her place. Tsubasa’s sidestory is more substantial than what came before, but it’s not as interesting, so I don’t like spending so much time on it.
Tonami just makes me weary. I hope we don’t spend so much time with him that he becomes yet another distraction. The story tells us he’s from Arima’s past, but Arima’s not his focus, so it feels like he’s just going to be a divergent force. It makes me uneasy, and not in a good way.
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.