by Aya Nakahara; adaptation by Pookie Rolf
published by Viz; $8.99 US
After finally telling Otani how she feels in Book 4, here Risa has to cope with the fallout. He’s not interested, and as a result, she’s still depressed. She took the chance and it didn’t work out as she hoped, so she’s walking through school like a zombie, causing all her friends to worry.
She wishes things could get back to normal, but it’s not that easy to forget her declaration and his response. Either she’s trying too hard to act like she doesn’t care, or things he does sets her off crying. Mixed messages from those around them don’t help. Either other kids are dashing her hopes or strangers are inspiring her with their love story. And she’s driving herself crazy reading too much into his responses.
She was honest with him, and he was honest in return, only their truths don’t match up. She’s hoping to put a “yet” on the end of that sentence, but then she finds out how he acted with a previous girlfriend. He’s totally the opposite with her, which ruins her hopes. But neither one of them seems to realize just how much someone can change as a teenager as they grow into the person they’re going to be.
The theme of opposites is a big deal here, obviously, from the setup (tall girl, short boy) to the mistaken attitudes of the kids. “If he was nervous with his previous girlfriend,” she thinks, “and he can talk to me easily, then he must not love me.” It’s treated like some sort of equation, when relationships aren’t that simple, and there are different kinds of affection (as well as a tendency to be brainwashed by how love is supposed to feel).
This book jumps from holiday to holiday, from school trip to Christmas to Valentine’s. It’s like a high school greatest hits and the roller coaster ride of adolescence, all in one book. I also love the cartooning, which is so expressive and still easy-to-read. I never have to puzzle out what anyone’s doing or thinking. Instead, I can just enjoy the ride as these teens work out who they really like and what’s important to them.