Kare Kano vol 3 (of 21)

UK Distributor:  Tokyopop

Author:  Masami Tsuda

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £6.99

Number of Pages:  192

ISBN:  1-5918-2058-8

Reviewed:  14th August 2006

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)


Kare Kano is establishing itself as one of my favourite series, and this volume certainly does nothing to change that.

Yukino Miyazawa and Soichiro Arima have accepted each other for who they are and are now officially going out.  Both are on cloud nine and spend more and more time together, Miyazawa’s feud with Hideaki Asaba has not only ended but they are now all good friends and things couldn’t be going better.  Until the mid-term exams that is.  Miyazawa and Arima have been spending so much time together that their studies have taken a back seat, and both see their grades slip.  Despite no longer keeping up her image as the perfect student Miyazawa is horrified to see herself slip to a lowly 13th place, and she’s not the only one.  The pair’s teacher is shocked at their slacking and pins the blame on their relationship, he thinks they should split up for the sake of their future, and when they refuse he gets their parents involved.  A parent teacher meeting could possibly be disastrous for them, but that’s not their only worry.  The other students have noticed Miyazawa’s change in character and jealousy at her friendship with Arima and Asaba is starting to come to a head…

After showing Miyazawa & Arima’s relationship developing last time round this time the series throws up some serious obstacles for them to overcome.  The previous two volumes were so entertaining that you didn't really notice that there wasn't much in the way of drama going on, but the problems they face in this one really adds a new dimension to the story.  Everything has been happy-go-lucky for them since they got together, but now Miyazawa is popular with the boys and is no longer the perfect girl she once was.  Jealousy bubbles away amongst her classmates and one girl sees it as the perfect opportunity to unite the class against her.  Being given the silent treatment is bad enough, but their teacher trying to break them up is another thing entirely.

If Miyazawa and Arima stand up for their love they'll shatter the image the teachers have of them and life could get far more difficult for both of them.  Tsuda has really decided to test the strength of her characters' relationship and the story matures because of it.  You know that both of them will have to overcome adversity as the story progresses (Arima in particular seems to have some serious skeletons in his closet) but their reaction to it this time round makes for great reading.  The drama is upped considerably and there is increased focus on how their relationship affects others and also how their change in character is being perceived by their peers.  However, if you think the comedy and romance is going to take a back seat think again.

As with the previous two volumes the visual humour really makes it great, the reaction shot when Miyazawa finds out her exam results is one of the most hilarious manga moments of all time!  Miyazawa's behaviour is once more the funniest aspect of the story, although Arima's childish sparring with the flirtatious Asaba shows a welcome lighter side to his character too.  Miyazawa's family are great as always, particularly her parents' reaction to the parent-teacher meeting ('Dear! Go get the weapons!'), but this time even more than before it is the romance that drives it.  The increased drama boosts the romantic side of the story, with Miyazawa and Arima showing their commitment and strength of feeling through their handling of the problems they face.   They fight their battles together and grow closer because of it, showing their resolve not only to their teachers and parents but also to themselves.  What Tsuda is an absolute master of is balancing the comedy, the romance and the drama perfectly without ever overpowering you with any of them, something she demonstrates perfectly in the volume.

The strangest thing about Kare Kano vol 3 is the fact it doesn't seem to have any less comedy or romance than the last two. However, it still manages to throw in a huge dose of dramatic spice without feeling cluttered or unbalanced.  The characters have grown and developed, taking an already hugely entertaining story in new directions and adding new dimensions to their relationship.  Tsuda switches between comedy, romance and drama perfectly and, with a growing cast of great characters and some more problems to be faced at the end, I for one can't wait for volume 4.


The usual stuff (ads, synopsis, preview), but it's the short bonus manga strips at the end and the side comments from Masami Tsuda that really makes it great.  They are occasionally bizarre but always great fun, and you really feel that you are getting to know the author as well as the story - something that is very rare in manga.


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