High School Debut Volume 12
Haruna and Yoh are on their first overnight trip together in High School Debut volume 12. Although Haruna isn’t sure she’s ready for their relationship to go further physically, she’s psyched herself into thinking that she owes it to Yoh. But she doesn’t know what he’s thinking, so she’s jumping to conclusions based on what every boy must want. Plus, she’s freaking out simply seeing him half-naked in a swimsuit. It’s clear that she is not at all ready for sex.
They do have fun together when they’re racing in the pool. But she obsesses over when he’s going to hit on her, and then when he doesn’t (which should make her happy), she thinks she’s not desirable. It’s a realistic portrayal of how mixed up teens can be about making out, but I don’t feel that it accurately captures how unique Haruna is. Her reactions aren’t usually typical, which is what makes her such an interesting character.
I’m going to spoil things (since the book came out a couple of months ago) by saying that they don’t do it, thanks to the stereotypical manga device of having a gang of their friends show up to join them. That prevents them from getting down and dirty without either of them having to actually say no. Which is kind of a shame — I’d rather they make strides on their lack of communication by talking about what they want and feel instead of being saved by their buddies. At least they made a start towards it before they were interrupted.
Then Asami, who I thought was a friend to the two while being Yoh’s younger sister, throws a jealous fit, trying to make Yoh choose between her and Haruna. While it could be a natural storyline, with the proper setup, here, it comes out of nowhere to get the characters yelling at each other. There’s also the requisite class trip away for the girls. At least the art by Kazune Kawahara is still nicely done, with lots of emotion, and Haruna’s hilarious in her exaggeration.
The series ends with the next volume, and I kind of wish the conclusion had come earlier, since the stories have become more generic and the characters less special. The mixups in this volume could have happened in almost any shojo series. The cliffhanger is similarly typical: how will Haruna and Yoh handle being separated by their college choices?