by Aya Nakahara; adapted by Shaenon K. Garrity
published by Viz; $9.99 US
While the main story ended in the previous volume, this final book contains a few more short stories with the characters.
The first two are flashbacks. One shows a younger Otani helping a grumpy kid on his junior high basketball team make friends. I appreciated seeing a more serious side of him. I love the humor in his later relationship with Risa, but it’s nice being reminded he also can be a caring, thoughtful guy who helps others. There are lots of good reminders in this chapter, like the importance of patience and teamwork and hard work and sharing. Plus, we see how Otani first found the music of Umibozu.
I also like the way Nakahara draws her characters. Even when I’m meeting them for the first time, they have personality and charm in their appearances. They’re distinctive in attitude, which makes them fun to read and easy to follow. They’re active, too, doing things other than just talking. And when they are conversing, they react (and sometimes over-act, which is amusing).
The second chapter is Risa’s. Even though her classmates are starting to get crushes, she’s more interested in video games. She’s hanging out with a guy friend, a relationship that becomes a problem when another girl tries to come between them. The message is that there are different kinds of friendship, and people are ready for them at different times in their lives. It’s a reasonable story for the character, teaching her something important, but I didn’t find it as enlightening to the reader as the previous one.
The next story is the first, previously unrevealed meeting of Risa and Otani as the kids are entering high school. There’s another Umibozu concert and a surprise reunion with an old friend. It ties up a bunch of loose ends, but there’s not much more to it beyond that. It’s the kind of story authors and deep fans like, but I prefer those with more universal themes than connecting the dots.
The last piece is one last bite at the apple, as the major characters get together at the beach in a story set four months after their graduation (shown in the previous volume). Although they talk about the different places they are in their lives, the interactions are pretty much the same as before. Risa is insecure, Otani is clueless, their friends laugh at them, there’s a misunderstanding, and then a reunion.
Overall, this volume will please though who want one last … I want to call it a rerun, but it’s new material. Still, most of the stories have an overly familiar feeling. Like a TV reunion special that can’t be as good as the original series, this works primarily based on nostalgia for the best parts of the previous run. Still, if you know that and want it, it achieves what it aims to do.