Another year, another time for some yuletide cheer and celebration. The glacial romance between Yuki and Kyon continues on its slow, slow path towards something approaching progress. Maybe.
Story/Art: PUYO (manga story and art), Nagaru Tanigawa (Original Story), Noizi Ito (Character design)
Translation: Yoshito Hinton
Lettering: Abigail Blackman
What They Say:
With Christmas and entrance exams rapidly approaching, everyone is becoming a bit contemplative, but no two more so than Yuki and Kyon. As an eventful year draws to a close, is their relationship the same as ever, or do subtle changes add up over time?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If the previous volume was very heavily intertwined with the main Haruhi universe, offering a series of alternative takes on main story events or providing amusing “What ifs?” to stand in contrast to the light novel series, this volume goes down an entirely different path, focusing almost completely on the relationship between Kyon and Yuki, with everyone else playing ancillary roles at best.
It’s Christmas time, so the Literature Club plans for another party, this time to be held at Tsuruya-san’s house. This, however, is more of a background event as much of what we see is a slow process of mental realization coming to the surface of Kyon’s consciousness: the dense dude finally realizes that he likes Yuki. That doesn’t mean that we are about to hear wedding bells and see the happy couple embrace each other, let alone do anything further, like, mutually admit their feelings and formally ask each other to go out. Instead, the focus is mainly on Kyon’s inner thoughts, as we see him realize how much closer he has become to Yuki over the year that has passed, to the point where he’s now spending more of his time and attention joining Yuki in her pursuits (mainly being a couch potato gamer) in the club room. This largely relegates Asakura to the role of matchmaking bystander: she makes herself somewhat more scarce as if she’s Yuki’s mom and doesn’t want to interfere with her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend visiting her house. Haruhi and everyone else recede mostly to being wall art for large portions of the volume.
This concentration on Kyon’s realization of his feelings for Yuki, which extends through the Christmas party, where he seems much more self-conscious about wanting to give her a gift now than he did a year ago, gives the illusion of some progress on the Yuki-Kyon romantic front, but it is, in the end, largely illusory as no real progress is actually made. That’s because while Kyon may now know, in his own mind, that he likes Yuki, he still has a hard time believing that the feeling is mutual. Even when the author contrives to get Yuki over to Kyon’s house and then uses Kyon’s little sister to make Yuki (when Kyon is out of the room, but within earshot) say out loud that she likes Kyon (at least, she “doesn’t dislike him,” the common non-denial affirmation we’ve come to expect in manga and anime regarding romantic feelings), it does not result in an immediate joining of the two. We may well ask the same questions Kyon’s little sister asks: “Are you dating Kyon-kun? Why not?”
But since neither Kyon nor Yuki can really come out and say they like each other to each other’s face at the same time and clear up any lingering or possible misunderstandings…the romance just continues to sit there stalled. I can understand that having them admit their feelings together and formally putting them together presents something of a quandary for the writer (after all, once that happens, it could well be “game over” for the story). But this continuing glacial pace…wait, glaciers might actually move more quickly than this…does begin to test this reviewer’s patience. I still find the manga possessed of a certain charm at times which is sadly lacking in the current anime adaptation being broadcast in Japan as of the time of this review, but this was a rather weak installment as things go. The appearance of progress is not the same as actual forward movement.
Christmas comes a second time to this world and so much has changed for Kyon and Yuki. The club decides to have another Christmas party, this time at Tsuruya-san’s house. All of this takes a backseat, however, to the dawning realization in Kyon’s mind that he has developed real romantic feelings towards our sleepy little game player (is there anyone in the Literature Club who actually reads?). It’s nice that Kyon seems to now know his own feelings, but no further steps towards Yuki and Kyon being open with each other occur, leaving the romance to continue in its current stall, though at least the hope of real forward movement in the near future might be there. But not yet.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Package Rating: B+
Age Rating: Older Teen–LV
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 24th, 2015