Kare Kano vol 2 (of 21)

UK Distributor:  Tokyopop

Author:  Masami Tsuda

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £6.99

Number of Pages:  192

ISBN:  1-9315-1480-1

Reviewed:  29th June 2006

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)


You know, I really liked Kare Kano vol 1.  Yes it’s a romance, yes it has all the hallmarks of a female orientated ‘shojo’ manga, but its brand of infectious humour and great characters made it far more fun than I thought it would be.  I admit that I was probably expecting too much of vol 2, but thankfully it didn’t disappoint.

Yukino Miyazawa, the self confessed ego maniac who lives for the praise of others, had her life turned upside down in volume 1 when she met the seemingly perfect Soichiro Arima.  After accidentally revealing her true self to him the pair had a rocky time before finally they realised that they actually really liked each other.  After vowing to be themselves rather than the perfect students everyone knows them to be they have become closer and closer, but Miyazawa is still afraid of being hurt and hasn’t returned Arima’s confession of love.  Waiting for the right time is proving to be a nightmare, and there’s also the problem of the school sports festival.  Both Miyazawa and Arima are on the student council and have a huge pile of responsibilities, with all this going on they can hardly spend a moment together.  But there is another problem on the horizon for Miyazawa, Arima’s friend Hideaki Asaba isn’t happy that she is taking up all of Arima’s time and attention, and a few cruel words soon turns into a petty war between him and Miyazawa.  Can she find the time to spend with Arima?  And can she combat this new threat?

It’s often the case that if a series isn’t good at the start it picks up in the subsequent volumes, and if it is good at the start then it sometimes runs out of ideas.  However, Kare Kano vol 2 is not simply as good as the first volume, it’s better.

Volume 1 was told from Miyazawa’s point of view (no bad thing as she is the best aspect of Kare Kano), but volume 2 lets us see things through Arima’s eyes as well.  This adds another dimension to the story, whilst Miyazawa is liberated by their relationship and opens up more, Arima seems to have an intense side to his character that he is hiding from her.  It is unusual for a romantic comedy like this to show both sides of the relationship and tell the story from both characters’ point of view, but Kare Kano pulls it off brilliantly.  I was impressed by how it went back to the beginning to show how Arima fell for Miyazawa from his point of view, forming a nice contrast with the story we read in the first volume.  It’s this aspect that makes the characters feel so real, Masami Tsuda takes the time to flesh both of them out and because of this you like them and care what happens to them.

Tsuda manages to bring real attachment to her characters, but it must be said that the hilarious Miyazawa still steals the show from the angsty Arima.  She is brilliant throughout, and her feud with Asaba is probably the high point of the volume, especially the childish tricks they play on each other.  Asaba is a good character too, although he is slightly one dimensional he does add a bit more spice to the story and his laid-back attitude makes him a good foil for the driven Miyazawa and Arima.  As with the first volume the comedy is superb and mostly visual, the way Miyazawa’s feelings are depicted by changing the art style is a large part of what makes it so enjoyable to read.

At its heart though Kare Kano is a romance, and obviously love drives the story, but don’t be put off if this isn’t normally your thing.  The romantic elements are handled very well, Tsuda manages to squeeze in all of the fun and fears of young love without getting cheesy or insincere.  It’s perfectly balanced between romance and comedy and it’s just so damn enjoyable you can’t help but like it!

Kare Kano vol 2 takes the characters of vol 1, fleshes them out and chronicles the tentative first steps of their relationship.  Their worries and their decisions, their trust for each other and how they become more open with themselves and those around them.  It’s moving in places, but for me it’s the comedy that makes it a must read, if you’re not laughing at Miyazawa’s reaction to Asaba’s opening jibe then there is something seriously wrong with you.  This book is a great read with plenty to recommend it, Kare Kano is establishing itself as a real gem and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.


Tonnes!  As well as the usual splash pages, adverts, recap and next volume preview, there are also several little columns from the author nestled throughout the book.  These little autobiographical ‘Tsuda Diary’ columns are really fun to read, and give a great insight into the author’s life and personality.  There’s a longer Tsuda Diary manga at the end of the book too, and I actually enjoy the Tsuda Diary nearly as much as the main story itself!!


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