by Kazune Kawahara; adapted by Gemma Collinge
published by Viz; $9.99 US
Yoh’s about to graduate, since he’s ahead of Haruna in school. She wants him to follow the path that’s best for him, but she’s conflicted, because that means him going to Tokyo and her being apart from him for at least a year. Should she support his happiness or hers?
It’s so refreshing seeing the two talking honestly about their feelings, compared to where they were at the beginning of the series. Yoh’s overcome his stoicism, and Haruna has learned to think about and express her emotions instead of letting them run away with her. She’s still got her overwhelming enthusiasm and determination, keeping her awkwardly adorable, but she’s also confident in her love for Yoh and the strength of their connection.
I admire the way Kawahara relies on the art to carry key moments. Haruna has a revelation while helping a student learn to vault properly, working out her thoughts through physical exertion, reminding us of the gawky tomboy she started as. Later, the couple goes to karaoke, and an important moment is shown wordlessly, as one sings to the other. There are some really potent moments throughout the book.
For all the realism of the feelings on display, there’s also plenty of humor to keep things light. A powerful encounter is followed by the participants uncertain about how to back out of it, just like real life. As last moments before graduation, the gang goes snowboarding and has a Christmas party at Yoh’s house, providing an opportunity for his mother to finally meet his girlfriend (and plenty of comedy!).
Yoh also gets one last chance to teach Haruna a lesson about love and interaction between boys and girls. This is a fine conclusion to the series, reminding readers of what attracted them to the story and characters in the first place.