The Kare Kano journey continues, and this volume does the absolute most to provide things I don’t want from this series.
Whereas other volumes would spend just part of their time introducing and building up new characters, this entire volume is devoted to Kazuma, who, like Tonami, Tsubaki, and Tsubasa before him, has next to no bearing on the main thing that drew me to this story.
It sets up his integration into the rock band he fronts, and discusses life as a teenage musician, one who is burning up the indie music sales charts and quickly gaining momentum among young music lovers. It also gives us a greater glimpse into his relationship with Tsubasa, how he is a helpful influence for her, and how her jealousy causes a rift between her and Kazuma.
It’s pleasant enough read. Kazuma’s band is a charming bunch, and they act like such older brothers to Kazuma, pushing him to step out of his comfort zone, poking fun at his first attempts at writing songs, and teasing him for being so close to his stepsister. It’s fluff, but competent fluff.
The problem is just that I don’t want to read about all these side characters. I want to read more about Yukino and Arima. I wouldn’t mind all these side characters coming into the picture if they had some kind of effect on the central relationship. Maho and Tsubasa are the only ones who did to any extent, but their influence was extinguished six or seven books ago by now, and at this point, they just take up space. Hideaki, Tonami, and Tsubaki add nothing, and unfortunately, Kazuma seems likely to fit that mold. I don’t think Yukino appears in this volume at all, and Arima runs into him at a music store in passing.
I don’t know. I enjoyed this series early on, and still do in spurts, but I really wonder what the impetus is for introducing all these characters. To me, they don’t play into the thing that drew me to read this series. I suppose they build the world out a bit, but not in a way that’s meaningful or that makes me want to see them ever again. I really hope the rest of the volumes don’t follow in this one’s footsteps. I was very disappointed with this one, more than perhaps any other volume in this series.
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.