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Title:
  Kare Kano vol 4 (of 21)

UK Distributor:  Tokyopop

Author:  Masami Tsuda

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  6.99

Number of Pages:  200

ISBN:  1-5918-2059-6

Reviewed:  24th September 2006

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

 

Kare Kano has been an awesome series so far and it shows no signs of letting up in quality any time soon!

At the end of the last volume the class had turned on the duplicitous Miyazawa, childishly giving her the silent treatment.  This behaviour is being orchestrated by the scheming Maho, a girl who wants to regain the centre stage in the class that Miyazawa had taken from her.  Alienated from her class and turning down help from Arima, Miyazawa copes with it as best she can but has other things to worry about too.  A beautiful girl called Tsubasa Shibahime has returned to the school after being in hospital, and is shocked to find that the object of her affections - Arima - now has a girlfriend.  Angrily she targets Miyazawa in the hope of scaring her away from Arima, but she hasn't reckoned with Miyazawa's terrifying resolve!  All this trouble does lead to some good though, ostracised by her own class she actually meets and makes friends with girls from another class, who - somewhat ironically - are also friends of Shibahime!  She still has Maho and Shibahime to deal with but things are looking up for Miyazawa, and her relationship with Arima is going smoothly.  However, he is about to drop an unexpected bombshell...
 

Continuing on the themes from the last volume, with Miyazawa facing some difficult trials, Kare Kano vol 4 is yet another great instalment for the series.  Somehow it has managed to get progressively better and with the drama and romance still underpinning the story, it really lets fly with the comedy this time round.  The introduction of Shibahime leads to some great slapstick comedy and also most of this volume's best moments.  Whether her sly attempts to attack Miyazawa behind Arima's back or her childish nature hiding beneath her stunning looks, everything seems to go up a

gear when she is around!  There are some great moments involving her and Miyazawa, but the highlight was definitely when Miyazawa finally cracks under her provocation - if anyone at the school still thought she was all sweetness and light then they definitely don't afterwards...

It's the comedy that makes the book so damn entertaining but it's the absolutely superb story that really keeps it interesting.  Miyazawa and Arima's relationship is brilliantly done, a beautifully paced study of the development of first love and the feelings of two different people.  The challenges they face may be pretty trivial from an objective point of view, but Masami Tsuda is superb at showing how important they are to the character's lives.  When you are at school these kinds of problems can be spirit crushing and Tsuda really gets this across in the story.
 

It is great to see Miyazawa making friends and the introduction of the new characters really keeps the pace of the story going.  Drama-wise Maho is very interesting, if a little too melodramatic at times, I hope she becomes a regular as it would be a shame for her to slip into the background after playing such a big role in Miyazawa's development.  Arima once again does take a bit of a back seat this time as Miyazawa fights her own battles so we still have a lot to learn about him.  So far the story has mainly revolved around Miyazawa (this is not a bad thing though) so Arima does seem slightly under-developed as a character, I hope

that this changes but I do hope that the comedy doesn't suffer when the focus does shift.  At the moment most of the comedy comes from Miyazawa, whereas Arima seems to have some dark secrets in his past so drama may be the order of the day with him.

Whatever future volumes may hold for the series it so far has been superb, and this volume has been the best of all.  We have seen Miyazawa grow as a person and deal with challenges to her newfound happiness in her own way.  She has found friends and her relationship with Arima has deepened further, although their relationship will face a new challenge in the next volume if the end of this one is anything to go by.  Comedy and drama-wise this volume is superb, and it will be interesting to see if it can keep this quality up.  It's definitely managed it so far, and if you only buy one romantic comedy you have to make it Kare Kano.

Extras:

Ads, a synopsis and a next volume preview are joined once again by the excellent Tsuda Diary bonus strips and asides from the author.  All of these are superb, absolutely irreverent and great fun to read and this time we also get a bonus 39 page manga short called Meet Me Again Tomorrow in the Forest.  This sweet little sci-fi romance, about a human who crashlands on a planet of rabbit people, is great fun and makes a nice addition to the main story.

Ratings

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