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. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 20

287365.jpgAfter the last volume’s climactic ending, this one… goes in a million different directions.

The showdown from volume 19 ends with Soichiro talking Reiji down. Reiji wants to kill Ryoko for inflicting suffering on him and his family. Soichiro tells him it isn’t worth it, and that he can live through whatever troubles Ryoko dishes his way. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 19

287367.jpgThree volumes to go, and it seems like Kare Kano isn’t even close to winding down.

The window into Reiji’s past remains open in this volume, and we spend the bulk of our time with Reiji as he goes off the deep end. Relatively speaking, at least.

Following the misunderstanding that Reiji and Soji had in the last volume, Reiji has started keeping to himself. Beginning in these chapters, Reiji starts to fall in with a bad crowd. In the first chapter, he seems to fall in with a crowd of bikers (?), and later on, Ryoko adds him to her clique, announcing to her friends that she’s taking him as her boyfriend… while still in another relationship. Yikes. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 18

287371.jpgThis volume is basically a deep dive into the life and times of Reiji.

In the present, Reiji and Arima are still hanging out, but Reiji sends Arima home now that his time in Japan has run out. This hurts Arima’s feelings, as he came to like Reiji. Initially, he was pretty disgusted by Reiji’s dismissive, smug attitude; but after some time, he started to see things he liked in him. There’s a particularly great sequence that depicts his mother’s suicide, spliced between dialogue scenes. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 17

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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. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 16

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Arima’s recovery continues in this volume, with him learning some new lessons.

As with the last volume, this one opens with some flashbacks to Arima’s abuse. Portrayed as a dream he’s having, he then awakens in a hospital bed by Yukino’s side, as he stabbed himself in the previous volume. When he awakens, Yukino gets to ask the questions she’s been trying to ask since the last volume.

There, the two finally have something of a come-to-Jesus moment. Yukino deduces that Arima has kept so many things away from her so as to not hurt her or make her worry, and only now understands that by doing all this, he’s potentially harmed her even more. Yukino calls him on that, but also says that by having him open up, she gains the means to protect him, so she’ll start to help him in that way. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 15

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This volume was.. a pretty bleak read. Not out of issues with the quality of the story, but more for the nature of the content.

The book opens with Arima recalling incidents of abuse from his childhood, cementing the notion that his mother is not anything resembling a saint. Arima frequently appears bruised and in significant pain in these flashbacks. The way he recognizes the depth of his pain, yet still accepts and seeks his mother’s love is heartbreaking. Continue reading

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