Kare Kano, vol. 21

287364.jpgLast volume! Let’s see what’s in store here.

The opening chapter is pure fluff, introducing another character for seemingly no reason. Other than that, Yukino lets Hideaki know she’s pregnant.

In the next chapter, Yukino and Soichiro announce their post-grad plans to the school faculty and members of their family. The school is shocked, but somewhat supportive. Soji’s aunt initially tries to give Yukino a hard time for her plans, but later relents, much to the family’s surprise.

The rest of the book skips to the future, with Yukino and Soichiro’s daughter now a high school student. Soichiro is now a detective, Yukino a plastic surgeon. Amazingly, they’re still in regular contact with all of their high school era friends, with Hideaki being a neighbor of theirs. In true Tsuda fashion, a questionable romantic pairing is present here in the form of Hideaki and Soichiro and Yukino’s daughter. There’s even a weird comment about waiting until she’s of age to really act on his love. It’s cringeworthy, kind of like how Maho and Yusuke’s relationship was. Speaking of which, not only are those two still together, but they’re married.

So that’s Kare Kano! I’m not sure I have an easy answer on how I feel about the series as a whole. I really liked it in the beginning, because the inciting incident was so unique. Not only that, but Tsuda seemed to understand what it takes to make a relationship work, so it was cool to see these young kids struggle through communication and start to understand each other better. It really lost the plot, though, when entire chapters and volumes started to focus on the background characters, sometimes with characters who very rarely interacted with Soichiro or Yukino. This issue is even more disappointing to think about in hindsight, as all the knowledge we gained about these characters isn’t used in any meaningful way later on. The series got a little bit better near the end of its run, but it doesn’t build to anything. It’s like a middle-of-the-road, non-distinctive slice-of-life series. It’s not unpleasant to watch, but largely unmemorable, certainly not something you’ll think of revisiting. I think of underutilized potential with 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.

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