by Miyoshi Tomori; adapted by Ysabet MacFarlane
published by Viz; $9.99 US
It’s been a while since I read much of this series in one big lump last year, so I was a little lost with the opening chapter. Lots of characters are participating, cleaning up loose ends from events in the previous volume. I had criticisms of that book because the cast was hiding things from each other for plot reasons, so I was glad to see that, in spite of my not being sure of the details of what was going on, the characters were getting back to being honest with each other. That’s the strength of this shojo manga, that it’s about truth and emotional revelation.
The kids are beginning to appreciate Maria for showing them how to be their real selves. Their lives aren’t as placid and conflict-free as before, but they’re more authentic. That openness leads Maria to finally share what happened to her at her previous school, where she was friends with the popular girl Anna before being expelled.
That mystery is replaced with another, that of what happened to Maria’s mother, as Maria has begun having short, confusing flashbacks. Maria and her friend Yusuke are becoming closer, with him trying to take care of her in spite of cool guy Shin trying to warn him away. The three of them, plus Anna, continue working together as a singing quartet. Since Anna doesn’t speak, she’s writing lyrics for a new song.
The phrase “lovely spin” is a constant in this series, and I’m not always sure what the characters mean by it, but I’m choosing to see it as a message of optimism. Instead of interpreting actions as negative towards yourself, try assuming a positive interpretation of motive and charitably give others the benefit of the doubt.
There’s a more serious lesson here, too — you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. Sometimes wanting isn’t enough, and it doesn’t matter how much you care. You can’t make them feel what you think they should. Watching teens struggle with that lesson allows me to reflect on my own challenges in that area. (The publisher provided a review copy.)