Story/Art: Kanae Hazuki
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
What They Say
It’s time for the school Culture Festival, and Yamato seems like a shoo-in as the male School Idol Contest winner. But Megumi’s entered the contest too, and the prize is a date night for the winners! For the first time, Mei decides to put herself out there, but, with her priorities now straightened out, Meg’s been rejuvenated, too! Who will win the hearts of her classmates and walk away with Yamato?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This volume wastes no time setting up its focal point, the school’s “Idol Grand Prix Contest”. It turns out the grand prize is that the winning boy and girl get to go on a date with each other which seems… kind of irresponsible on the part of the people setting it up, since as is mentioned almost immediately you can win without nominating yourself. And since Yamato has a pretty high chance of winning regardless of his feelings, that sets up the core conflict of this volume. Hoping to prevent someone else from going out with her boyfriend, Mei decides to do her best in the contest as well.
Thanks apparently in a large part due to some girls being jerks and trying to “make an example out of her”, Mei actually does indeed make it onto the list of finalists, along with Yamato, Megumi, and some other cast members. We then probably spend about a third of the volume on Mei focusing on “being a girl” and planning for the contest and… it’s really, really bland. It’s just not interesting and feels empty. Lumping on that feeling even more, we get the start of the Culture Festival and… it turns out the class is doing a “Maid/Butler Café”, and though it doesn’t take up too much space, we do indeed get pages used forcing the main duo into the outfits and everyone reacting.
For all the bland lead up, though, we actually do get a bit of payoff. Though much of the volume has been spent on making Mei girly/pretty, her moment on the stage instead allows her a chance to actually be herself and really confront the school itself, which makes for a great show of how her character has grown. Afterwards she collapses from the pent up pressure, and when she wakes up she unsurprisingly finds that Yamato and Megumi came out on top, though she at least didn’t get last place. Finally, we get some nice bits showing that Mei was able to inspire others, and set up the weird plot point for the next volume of Mei telling Megumi that it’s okay to go through with the date that was the “prize.”
The best way to describe this volume is a hunk of trite garbage with one brilliant little gem buried deep inside. Almost all of the book is spent on bland high school drama around and a silly, contrived plot point, and it’s incredibly dull. The first two thirds of the book really don’t have even a single scene worthy of note or any real development, and drag the book way down. And yet, all of this does lead to a legitimately lovely scene that is a great character moment for Mei, that feels like a fantastic payoff for what she’s gone through up to this point. Add to this some nice follow-up to the scene, and you get something very nice that’s unfortunately buried in bland. Hopefully in the future the series will focus more on that type of brilliance and regain the bite it had in the past, though most of what’s on display here is worrying. For now, though there is a little bit of greatness here, it unfortunately isn’t enough to save the book.
Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: June 9th, 2015