This volume sees our globetrotting cast encountering the last major new character of the series – Arima’s birth father, Reiji.
It opens with Arima and Yukino spending their winter vacation at Arima’s family’s vacation home. It’s generally a pretty fluffy affair, with nothing substantial happening or being talked about within these pages. The main thing here is that Arima discovers an old piano in one of the rooms, and from there, memories flood back of… something. Also, he seems to trigger some #feelings in his father, as asking if he can use an old bag at the house nets him an unusual reaction.
Flash forward to New York, where Maho, her cringe-inducing boyfriend, and the members of Yin and Yang are vacationing. Maho’s boyfriend invites her to see a concert by who else than Reiji, telling her (and providing us with an infodump in the process) that he was once a relatively controversial figure in the music world, before a change in playing style netted him much more positive reception. Maho, Kazuma and co. are able to meet him after a show, and there they are able to discern that Reiji and Sōichiro are related, after all.
At that point, Reiji flies back to Japan in an attempt to reintegrate into Arima’s life. Arima’s father staunchly rejects his advances, but sort of like how Ryoko was able to worm her way in through Arima’s curiosity, so too is Reiji. He takes him out on the town and has him wearing fancy clothes. Stuntin’ on ’em, if you will.
This volume was kind of like the last one – not bad, not especially great, but it works. I always hold my breath when this series introduces new characters – especially so late in the series – but Reiji’s intro works pretty well. The way Tsuda chooses to set his career up unfortunately leaves little to the imagination, but I can ignore that to a point since that’s not really his purpose in the story. I don’t have a lot to remark upon his interaction with Arima because there’s not a lot to go off of here, but it might be a fun ride for the next few books.
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.