by Kaho Miyasaka; adaptation by Kelly Sue DeConnick
published by Viz; $9.95 US
This manga romance series is a Harlequin-like fairy tale for teenagers. The geeky Karin is considered ugly because she wears glasses. On her morning bus ride, the attractive and popular Kiriya notices her and wants to take her picture. Even though his friends tease him and insult her, he pursues her, even though she pushes him away out of fear.
Karin’s a confused young girl who always jumps to the wrong conclusion. If a boy shows interest in her, it must be to make fun of her. If a boy takes her to his house because she’s sick and passing out, it must be because he wants to take advantage of her. Given how badly her “friend” Yuka insults and mistreats her, her pessimism is sometimes warranted, but Yuka’s abuse is another case where if Karin would just say what she thought, things would improve greatly.
Kiriya is almost able to read her mind, which is convenient, since she never speaks for herself. He picks her over her more conventionally pretty friends. When she doesn’t have the right clothes, he buys them for her. He doesn’t fall for tricks designed to separate them. He gives her what she really wants, even if she doesn’t know yet she wants it. (This applies to physical contact as well.) He is, in short, the perfect dream boy, always magically doing the right thing, the type of character that only exists in female-oriented fiction.
There are plenty of monologue scenes where we learn what Karin thinks. Her worries and concerns are those shared by most teenagers: does he really like me? are they making fun of me? Although I could relate to Karin’s uncertainty, I would much rather have seen her, just once, speak up. If she did that, though, there’d be much less content for this series.
Younger teens will likely get the most out of this, since older people have the experience to better interpret the situations that confuse Karin. More mature readers may not have the patience for the frequent unnecessary miscommunications inserted to keep the story going. If the characters were only a bit more honest with each other, they’d be more three-dimensional, but that’s not the point of this type of romance story.