What They Say
It’s Valentine’s Day–and while Domeki is showered with chocolates and cards from girls, Watanuki receives none. To make matters worse, he must also do the usual chores for Yûko, which includes making chocolate cake for her and Mokona, as well as the treats his boss wants to give away as gifts. But when Watanuki discovers he has a shy and secret admirer who is not quite human, he finds that chocolates can be more than just sweets.
Then, after seeing identical twin sisters pass by in the street, Yukomakes a curious remark: that there are chains that only humans can use to bind others. Watanuki meets the sisters and senses that the relationship between them is not what it seems. . . .
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This volume picks up the day before Valentine’s Day. Yuko has Watanuki make chocolate for her to eat and give as Valentines presents to others. After she eats her fill and distributes her gifts, there is one remaining chocolate, which she gives to Watanuki. He’s ecstatic, because now he has a special Valentine’s present he can give to his cute classmate Himawari, whom Watanuki has a massive crush on. But Watanuki is too afraid to tell Himawari how he feels about her. The next day at school, Watanuki is crushed when his love interest stays homesick.
Later that day, on the way home from school, Watanuki and Domeki are visited by a pretty girl who is looking for a special Valentine’s chocolate to give the guy she likes. Much to everyone’s surprise, the girl reaches into Domeki’s stomach and pulls out the chocolate he had eaten earlier (gross, but the chocolate is in it’s original form, apparently uneaten). Then she flies away and Domeki collapses. Yuko, who’s on the way home from the store, appears and claims the girl is a Zashiki-Warashi (ghost or guardian spirit), and she stole Domeki’s soul. Watanuki is sent in pursuit the girl and eventually catches up. She apologizes and eventually gives the chocolate to Watanuki as a symbol of her love for him. Which is pretty interesting considering most of the spirits Watanuki encounters are just out to harm or molest him in some way.
After the Valentine’s Day debacle, Watanuki meets identical twin girl college students. The twins invite Watanuki and Domeki on a couple of dates. The older sister is shy, clumsy, and always in the background when her younger sister is around. The younger sister always seems to find a way to put down the older twin, making her feel less capable. It’s almost painful to see the way the twins interact with each other and I really began to feel sorry for the shy older sister.
The interaction between the twins builds to a crescendo at a cake shop, where the older sister works as a waitress. The older sister has an accident and the younger twin begins to tell her she’s not good enough to work there. The younger twins’ pessimistic words cause the older sister to break down emotionally. Yukoappears and mysteriously offers to grant the older sisters wish to change her life. Later, when the older sister visits Watanuki and Domeki, she appears to be happier and more outgoing. Taking Watanuki’s advice, the older sister professes her love for Domeki. He turns her down, but she’s just happy she told him. This shows she has advanced further in changing her life than Watanuki, because he still can’t tell his classmate Himawari that he loves her.
The volume ends with a short flashback to Watanuki’s childhood. We get see a brief glimpse into how, as a lonely young boy, he raised himself in the absence of his parents. It also shows that spirits have been bothering him since he was a small child. It’s a nice glimpse of some factors that made Watanuki the person he is. It successfully invoked a feeling of sadness in me and for the fist time I really felt feel sorry for him. Up to this point he had always just been comedic relief.
The first portion of this volume, dealing with Valentine’s Day, has interesting references to Japanese mythology and magical creatures. I especially enjoyed this part because I like learning about the mythology of various cultures, and greatly appreciated the translators’ notes on them. Even if the Tengu were drawn as little cupid-like creatures, I still appreciated the reference.
The portion of the story with the twins reminds us that words hurt more than physical abuse. No matter how much you apologize for something hurtful you said, there is no way to erase those words from the memory of the one you hurt. It also shows us that you will never accomplish anything if you don’t try, and it’s better to regret failing something you tried than to regret not trying at all. I thought the use of twins for this lesson was a nice touch.
Upon first reading this volume, I thought there were higher production values when compared to the previous three, because the first four pages are in color. But with a little research, I discovered the reason my copies of the first three volumes in this series lacked the color plates was because they were second and third editions. Shame on Del Rey. I’m really disappointed that for the same price, the buyers of printings after the first edition do not receive the color plates. So try and get a first edition if you can.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: Teen 16+
Released By: Del Rey Manga
Release Date: January 30th, 2005