by Shouko Akira; adapted by Mai Ihara
published by Viz; $8.99 US
Now that Haruna and Macharu are dating, Valentine’s Day is a time of high pressure. In Japan, on that day, girls are expected to give their boyfriends chocolate to demonstrate their affection.
The resulting story is another example of the conflict Haruna faces when it comes to her feelings compared to the expectations of the crowd. Due to her aloofness and Macharu’s cute little-boyishness, everyone wants to know what’s going on with them. She’d be more comfortable working through how she felt and what she wanted to do if she wasn’t under their scrutiny, having to deal with how they think a relationship should progress instead of making her own choices based on her own timing.
Haruna also gets herself in trouble speaking before she thinks. When attention falls on her, she’ll say whatever comes to mind to get the spotlight off of her, even if it’s not true. Complications, including jealousy and mistaken identity, result. She’s the kind of person the proverb “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face” was invented for. It makes her a fascinating character.
After Valentine’s Day, there are more celebrations: the end of the school year and Haruna’s birthday. They provide occasions for her to warm up to her classmates and relax around others. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last long — a fellow student from her old school shows up, which risks pushing her back into her old ways.
Ultimately, this series is about the conflict of perception with reality, what we’re supposed to want vs. what’s best for us. Macharu is well-suited for Haruna emotionally, but he doesn’t look right to those concerned with appearance and outward markers of status. She needs to find the strength to make the decisions right for her regardless of what other people think. That’s why I like reading it — it’s a classic theme that can always be reinforced.