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Kimi ni Todoke Vol.8 May 14, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Manga.
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Kimi Ni Todoke rolls on, introducing a new character to shake things up a bit. For me, the story, perhaps reflecting Sawako and Shota’s impasse, seems to be in a bit of a rut. It’s not quite sustaining the quality of, say, Kare Kano as I’d hoped, but Karuha Shiina’s storytelling still has enough empathy to keep this series enjoyable.
(SPOILERS)

The appearance of Kento Miura to the mix reminded me a lot of when Asaba joined the gang in Kare Kano. I don’t for a second think that Kento is seriously romantically interested in Sawako, so I can see this becoming an Asaba-situation, where Kento joins the gang as another close friend. That, though familiar, does disappoint me somewhat. It would perhaps be more interesting were Kento to seriously compete for Sawako’s affections (maybe that could still happen?).

I think where Kimi ni Todoke falls down compared to Kare Kano (sorry, I will stop comparing sometime…) or Honey and Clover, say, is that there hasn’t so far been enough time spent developing the supporting cast or having a cast that gets equal screentime. The Chizu situation of Vol. 6 was a breath of fresh air after so much focus on the main pairing and I was looking forward to more on the ChizuXRyu pairing, as well as learning more about the other characters like Yano. As much as I love the main two, for the last two volumes to drop back into the will they-won’t they of Sawako and Shota was a little disappointing.

I have thought about it the other way though – the ‘slump’ that I feel about the story is akin to the slump that Shota and Sawako feel about their relationship; after such rapid progress, to have it suddenly slow down is awkward and frustrating. But where do you go from here except to take the plunge and confess, then get together (i.e. fulfil the ultimate end to the series!)? To play my Kare Kano comparison card one more time, what that series did differently was to have the main protagonists get together early on and then explore how a relationship develops after the thrill of the chase.

I must confess though, I do feel much empathy for the current situation and am full of admiration for the way Shiina accurately conveys such a situation. It’s not easy knowing you’ve gotten close to someone, but still don’t know how close you are, or whether it’s the right time to take that step further and confess your feelings. And as Yano astutely observes, “The timing has to be right” otherwise you risk losing it all.

So as much as the slowdown of the plot frustrates me, perhaps this is all part of Shiina-sensei’s grand plan…

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