by Kaho Miyasaka
published by Viz; $9.99 US
At the end of this volume comes an author’s note that mentions that the next volume, Book 10, will be the last in the series. Even before I read that note, though, I suspected that we were getting close to the end. There’s such a feeling of transition throughout, as characters act more maturely and long-standing troubled relationships are repaired.
There’s a lot more about Kiriya’s family interactions in this book than about his relationship with Karin. The book opens with Kiriya saving his father from a speeding car, which puts the boy into the hospital. That’s also a common thread through the book, people with medical conditions serious enough to require bed rest or hospitalization. Overall, it makes for a serious read.
Karin serves as catalyst to repair Kiriya’s broken relationships with his mother and his father. She helps him explore his family history, reveals secrets they’ve been keeping from each other, and encourages him to pursue his dream. It’s lovely for him… but when did this book become all about him?
There’s a recurring motif of a particular song his mother used to play for him on the piano, a piece that Karin learns to play as a way of bonding with both him and his mother. At times, it’s almost as though she’s being groomed to take over from his mother in watching out for him. On the one hand, that’s poetic and symbolic of the passing of boy from son to husband; on the other, it’s sort of creepy, that Karin becomes his new little mother, an impression reinforced by the relative lack of romantic elements between the two in this volume.