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Kimi Ni Todoke Vol. #14 Manga Review

4 min read

The school trip goes on, and Sawako and Kazehaya’s awkward relationship continues on its way.

What They Say:
A school trip to tropical Okinawa heats up the student body, and with Ayane distracted by a new boyfriend and Chizu suddenly jealous of Ryu, Sawako and Kazehaya find themselves alone. Can they handle taking their relationship to the next level with a kiss?

Content (warning, the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
You’d think that Sawako and Kazehaya have cleared the biggest hurtle by confessing their love to one another, but there’s still plenty to stand in the way of their newfound bliss. First and foremost — they still haven’t kissed! While Sawako spends the beginning of their trip remarking on how comfortable they are being close to each other, when their potential first kiss is interrupted their ease is disrupted. As with other recent volumes, it’s great to see Shiina carry the story through more than just the start of their relationship. But, as much as the tension pulls the reader through the story at this point the awkwardness becomes almost painful.

More interesting that Sawako and Kazehaya’s progress is the focus that gets put on Ayane and Chizu. Ayane is moving just as quickly with her new boyfriend as she has with old ones, making out with him in less time than it took Sawako and Kazehaya to make eye contact. But she’s still not getting what she really wants from this, and as she dwells on her new relationship she begins to worry that she doesn’t have the same capacity to love as her friends. Chizu, meanwhile, fumes when she finds out that has someone he likes and never told her, and gets even angrier when the girl he rejected tries to convince Chizu to stay away from him. When she confronts him the truth comes out, and while her answer isn’t unexpected it has the potential to break their current relationship apart.

As in previous volumes, Shiina seems entirely opposed to quick, clean solutions to her characters’ problems, meaning that even something as simple sounding as a first kiss becomes a drawn-out dilemma — and I mean that in an entirely good way. Shiina plays up Sawako and Kazehaya’s near encounter in her typical slow fashion, turning mere seconds in to slow pages of wordless panels as their faces draw closer and closer. The heartbeat sound effect is hardly needed, as the reader’s own heart will be drumming in her ears as she urges them on…until, almost expectedly, they are interrupted at the last second.

This effect is pulled out again as Ryu finally builds up to telling Chizu who he likes as they sit quietly together, comfortable as siblings. Short sentences are drawn out slowly over panels and pages until, looking in the distance, he confesses his feelings, and in one half-page panel Chizu can only stare. As before, the deliberateness of Shiina’s storytelling not only keeps characters’ words from being abrupt and out of the blue, but also amplifies the emotions of both the characters and the reader to make the manga that much more engrossing.

In Summary
This volume ends with the unresolved awkwardness between Sawako and Kazehaya, but this couple has been through far too much for an interrupted kiss to be their undoing, and I feel safe assuming that this problem will be resolved in someway by the end of volume 15 — though whether or not that means they actually kiss is still up in the air. The real meat of the story this time comes from Ayane and Chizu as each one dwells on her own personal problem. Through their actions and introspections Shiina develops these already full-fledged characters even more. Ayane particularly seems a little too good at honing in on her issue her expressions still feel natural and emotional. And though in my heart of hearts I hope to see Ryu and Chizu wind up together, I’m confident that Shiina will resolve this in the way that feels the most true, whether or not that means that means they become a couple. All of the problems are left unsolved by the volume’s end, leaving me a rather frustrated reader, but still I’m excited, rather than nervous, about the way Shiina will weave the storylines together to bring us to (again, I assume) a happy outcome.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: June 5, 2012
MSRP: $9.99

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