Kare Kano, vol. 14

287366.jpgBuilding somewhat on the goodwill of the last volume, the chapters of this volume of Kare Kano continue to narrow the focus on Arima’s family. Here, the key player is Arima’s birth mother, a woman named Ryoko.

Ryoko approaches Arima at his family’s house, which initially alarms him, to the point of striking her. Despite his family’s warnings for her to stay away and not get involved in his life, Arima is drawn to her, so he decides to stay in touch. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 13

500443.jpgIt appears the Arima arc Tsuda spoke of a few volumes ago has begun for real this time.

The series has fast-forwarded to senior year for Arima, Miyazawa and company, and there’s a lot of talk about what comes next for our respective characters. Kazuma is still going strong with his band, Tsubasa does modeling work for Kazuma’s group, Maho plans to move on to medical school, Tsubaki and Tonami don’t intend to move on to higher education, and Miyazawa is thinking of going to law school.

A lot of this feels inconsequential, though, as the bulk of this volume reintroduces Arima’s family. Whereas before Arima would just take the abuse and internalize his feelings of worthlessness, now he is 100% more vindictive, and he’s out for revenge. A lot of these chapters depict the abuse he received as a kid – being tied up and left in a basement for his family to find him was particularly disturbing – and juxtapose that with Arima’s accomplishments in the present day. Continue reading

Sugar Sugar Rune, vol. 2

1188254.jpgThis volume was a bit more charming and dynamic than the last one, for sure.

This volume mostly starts off the same as the first. Chocolat still pretty much sucks at collecting hearts and is not wise about spending her money. Things don’t change too much, though Vanilla is starting to get angry with Chocolat.

One thing Chocolat uses her money on is a trinket that lets her read a page of her mother’s diary. Her mother doesn’t share a whole lot, but gives her key advice to “never forget your feelings of appreciation after you’ve taken a person’s heart.” It’s not much, but it’s clear Chocolat may be able to build lasting friendships by allowing herself to be a bit warmer to her classmates. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 11

287385.jpgThe 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. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 8

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This volume feels like a midpoint between story beats, in that stuff is set up for later, at the consequence of very little happening here.

The first half of the volume focuses on Tonami, who I don’t really care for. So much of it is just him interacting with Tsubaki, being angry and flustered, and realizing that he may be feeling affection for her. You can see it coming a mile away, and since neither he nor Tsubaki are interesting, it’s not at all compelling to read about, at least from my perspective. It would be okay if they were more connected to Yukino and Arima, but their connection is tenuous at best. Continue reading

Sugar Sugar Rune, vol. 1

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Anno Moyoco is one of my favorite authors working in comics today, specifically for her josei works like Sakuran, Insufficient Direction, and In Clothes Called Fat. She’s really great at portraying the darkness in the world and in interpersonal relationships. Her characters have always felt real to me.

But my introduction to Anno’s work wasn’t her adult-oriented stories; it was this series right here, Sugar Sugar Rune, a magical girl series written for elementary schoolers. I picked up on this series after reading Shaenon Garrity’s writeup in her Overlooked Manga Festival from the late 2000s. I started reading this series as it came out in English back then, but dropped off after volume 5 came out. I held onto my old volumes and have since acquired the books I was missing, so I thought it might be worth it to revisit the series for the site. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 7

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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. Continue reading