So Cute It Hurts!! Volumes 5-6
I rarely remember what’s been going on with twins Megumu and Mitsuru between volumes of So Cute It Hurts!!, but it doesn’t matter, since author Go Ikeyamada does a great job of catching us up as the various characters talk about who’s been doing what and the various relationship permutations.
As volume 5 opens, Megumu has returned from her first date with tough-guy Aoi. It’s adorable young love, and predictably proceeding slowly and comfortably (complicated by Aoi’s only-in-manga condition of fainting at a girl’s touch).
Mitsuru, on the other hand, is the face of doom, as his first crush Shino has been seen kissing another boy, an older one in college. In order to find out what’s going on, he convinces his sister that they should cross-dress and switch places again (because that’s the original premise, so they’re nodding back to it). That’s one aspect of this series I’ve found pleasantly surprising, that the original relationships may not be the ones we end up with.
Much of volume 5 is thus focused on Shino and this new boy, their history together and whether things can work out for them. Everyone is so nice, with the conflict being that people keep taking themselves out of potential relationships because they don’t want to burden others. “I know they could never love me”, they say, self-effacingly, so it’s up to their friends to encourage and reassure them. It’s so soft and fuzzy, as a reader, to see these characters wishing the best for each other, working for their happiness and trying to protect them.
Meanwhile, dressed as a boy, Megumu is happy to be spending time at school with her boyfriend, but he’s growing increasingly jealous and protective. After a jump ahead to a new school year, Megumu puts the most positive spin possible on his feelings. There are hints of a mysterious person from Aoi’s past getting ready to appear.
So Cute It Hurts!! is a very straightforward series, with plot elements spelled out to readers and hints dropped obviously. People know their weaknesses and tell others how they’re working to overcome them. It’s a good read for younger teens or pre-teens for that reason.
Mitsuru has been spending time with Azusa while his heart heals from his departed first love. She’s such an opposite from the quiet Shino — Azusa is a model, willing to be devious if needed to keep a job and spending her time in a world full of competition and a focus on surface appearance. She’s demanding and aggressive and likely to end up with him.
Much of Volume 6 feels like the author spinning things out in order to keep the series going. Megumu suddenly discovers an artistic talent and contemplates becoming a manga artist. (A bad sign, when comic authors start making characters comic creators, since it usually means they’ve run out of other ideas and are falling back on their everyday experiences.) There’s ham-handed foreshadowing of “conflict coming!”, going so far that at a certain point, the captions actually say that. Apparently, we’ll finally get to see that in next book, since this one is just hints and portents.
I was looking forward to seeing more of Mitsuru, but his storyline with Azusa is used as an excuse to say that as a tough girl, she just needs a guy to protect her in order to find her softer feelings and become an “ordinary girl”. This series is inconsistent. Volume 5 seemed so comforting and reassuring to me, while volume 6 is so annoying. (The publisher provided review copies.)