My Love Story!! Volumes 12-13
These final two volumes of the adorable romantic comedy conclude in dramatic fashion, but without losing the innocent charm that makes My Love Story!! such a good read.
But first, in volume 12, oversized, good-hearted teen Takeo must try to rescue his best friend, Sunakawa, from a transfer student suspected of nefarious motives, in a story continued from the previous volume. This is funny because Takeo is so unsubtle at everything he does. He’s straight-forward, as he pretty much has to be, given his adult size and strength. Yet that inability to play games is what makes him a match for Tanaka’s scheme.
It’s not much of a scheme, really. Tanaka has glommed onto Sunakawa because Sunakawa is the kind of friend anyone would want: good-looking, unchallenging, easy to get along with. As a frequent transfer, Tanaka doesn’t really know how to build real friendships, so he’s more concerned with appearances, taking selfies that show him pretending to have a good time. In short, he’s a faker, so Takeo forces him to be honest.
Writer Kazune Kawahara sketches this new character effectively, making him sympathetic even when he’s badmouthing one friend to another. The artist Aruko, meanwhile, seems to have fun drawing them all rock-climbing, interspersed with flashbacks to baby Takeo (still a huge toddler). Even just drawing Takeo putting his arm around Tanaka, there’s a big difference in scale, which is funny. There’s also this amazing image of Tanaka, called out on his lies about feeling fine, screwing up his face before bursting into tears that was so surprising yet well-chosen.
There’s some simple but meaningful philosophy about how to make friends and how people who act out might have a sympathetic reason for doing so. It may be naive, but it’s heartwarming and a nice reminder of the way I wish life could always be.
Tanaka’s struggles with always being a transfer student are also foreshadowing for the final big storyline. Takeo’s girlfriend Yamato has to move! Her father has been transferred to Spain. How will this affect their perfect relationship? And their plans to go to the same college next year?
Volume 13 finishes up that storyline. Yamato has run away from home, unable to cope with the implications of the move, and Takeo follows her. The two are thus together by themselves (although Takeo, great guy that he is, is sending messages to reassure Yamato’s dad). There’s lots of discussion about how their relationship will continue, but the two, alone in a hotel room, are also teenagers in love.
The pending separation also gives the author an excuse, in this final book of the series, to bring back notable other characters, as just about everyone (including Yamato’s former coworker who tried to break them up, having seen the error of his ways) wants to root for the two of them to stay together.
That highlights one of the key points of appeal of this series. As much as it’s about a high school romance, it’s also about deep friendship. Sunakawa is a key part of helping Takeo satisfy his plans to go to college with Yamato, which requires a lot of hard work. The threesome demonstrated different kinds of caring in inspiring ways. (The publisher provided review copies.)