by Aya Nakahara; translation by Pookie Rolf
published by Viz; $8.99 US
As Book 3 opens, tall girl Risa is figuring out her relationship with Haruka. They were friends when they were kids, but now he’s told her “I’m going to ask you to be my girlfriend,” and she’s not sure how she feels about that.
(Bear in mind that if Haruka wasn’t a wuss, he would have asked her to go out with him instead of telling her he was going to ask her at some future time. He’s hedging his bets and making it her problem to obsess over instead of his.)
“Love Fortune” machines (that use blood types or horoscopes or other “mystical” criteria to tell a couple how compatible they are) play key roles at certain points in this series. They don’t mean anything, of course, but they provide a convenient excuse for a teen uncertain about her choices. A machine that says “this guy who other people think is perfect for you is only a third compatible with you” gives her something external to herself to blame instead of having to rely only on her own nagging doubts.
I objected to the phrasing in one scene, where short-guy Otani tells Haruka “a hero and a girlfriend aren’t the same thing… a guy looks out for his girlfriend, not the other way around!” I don’t like the emphasis on how the guy is supposed to take care of the girl. If he shouldn’t want to be protected by her, neither should she. A relationship is going to be more successful if both partners want the best for each other instead of wanting to be taken care of, regardless of gender. I enjoy this manga because of the way its hero plays against traditional gender roles, and I want to see Risa transcend the idea that to get a guy, a girl’s got to be small and cute. I want to be happy because she’s tall and different, not in spite of.
As the book continues, it’s a new school year, so the various friends and couples are finding out if they’re in the same classes. It’s a fresh start, only since the people are the same, so are their memories. Risa’s still figuring out how she feels about Otani. She may not get the chance to choose, since a new student, a year younger and very cute and girly, develops a crush on him. I have to admit, although very typically manga, I never would have guessed the direction in which the author took that twist.
It’s inspiring in a very odd way, as Risa finally figures out that it’s important to go for what’s important to you without paying attention to what others think. They can’t determine your happiness for you.
I’ve previously reviewed Book 2.