Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Kazune Kawahara
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $8.99 US
Release Date: Now Available
Two very wise English bards once sang that you don’t always get what you want and, baby, they weren’t kidding. Then again, there are times when you do get what you want and it’s a great feeling up until the point where you begin to fear losing the very thing you wanted or come to a premature conclusion that the thing in question maybe wasn’t meant for you. Doesn’t that want to make you curl up in a fetal position? It does for Haruna in this forth and – so far – best volume of the series since the wonderful first debut of High School Debut.
In Volume 3, the inevitable-yet-still-surprising hookup between Haruna and her handsomely moody love coach, Yoh, ended on an uplifting note. Yoh, who was annoyed by girls thanks to a bad breakup in his past, let’s go of the resentment and learned to open up to a new romantic interest. Yes, we saw it coming but when Yoh and Haruna finally got together for their first date, you better believe that yours truly jumped up from her seat. When Haruna felt that it wasn’t working and Yoh stuck to his guns, I cheered. It was a moment other shojo would have spoiled with syrupy sweetness but here it was handled brightly without overdoing it. In short, it was a truly memorable moment.
This fourth volume prepares Haruna for another major event and it’s their first Christmas together. Christmas in Japan is celebrated a bit differently than it does in our side of the pond in that it’s more of a festive holiday for couples. Seeing as Yoh had planned all the dates after the events in the third volume, Haruna makes it her mission to come up with plans for Christmas. You can imagine the enormous pressure to pull off the perfect Christmas.
Watching Haruna enthusiastically plan the coming holiday with the help of Yoh’s friends and his sister Asa is fun and even more so when Haruna gets a job to pay off the more expensive stuff that the date will involve. We expect disaster to come and spoil the evening but in a surprising twist the date worked out nearly perfectly … that is, until a bad party game spoils the evening for Haruna. Yet instead of seeing Haruna running home to face Yoh the next day, it is Yoh who catches her outside a park and surprises her yet again. I won’t spoil things here but know that said surprise leaves Haruna in a dream-like daze.
And dazes she stays even the day after when Haruna realizes that she can’t even look at Yoh or even speak coherently when he talks to her. In order to avoid being seen acting like a crazy person, she avoids Yoh who just doesn’t understand what happened when things were going so good. He even told her one of the things she so longed to hear since she began planning the Christmas date. Taking advice from her close friend and teammate, Mami, Haruna can’t even sit still with Yoh even after she was instructed to image that she’s going out with Jay Leno.
Haruna’s avoidance of Yoh does start to wear thin on him and he seeks advice from Mami … only Haruna mistakes their little outing as something else entirely. It’s hilarious watching Haruna stalking the two, not knowing that both Yoh and Mami know that she’s following them. Yet it’s not that Haruna doesn’t want to continue a relationship with Yoh … who she watches over from afar … it’s just that something inside her is stopping her. She even gets Yoh’s sister to role play with Asa playing the part of Yoh just to get comfortable with him again.
What changed Haruna isn’t resolved in this volume but the road to this dramatic turn of events was, by far, one of the most funny and interesting parts about the story. It’s a blast watching the characters evolve and even when you have the story figured out it manages to turn things around just enough to keep you hoping our girl Haruna will find happiness. If this one doesn’t make you pick up a volume of High School Debut than I don’t know what will.
Interesting twists and developments pop up in this volume and finally we get to see Yoh go from sour to understanding. It’s great to see Haruna finally get the boy and try to take the relationship another step forward only to find out that this girl has two left feet when it comes to relationships. This is why we love her so much.
Is it me or is the art in this volume more artistically pleasing to the eyes than the last two? Not that there was nothing wrong with past volumes but this one looks as good as Yoh does.
Quite possibly one of the most interesting and best volumes to come along since the first High School Debut volume came out, Volume 4 is the reason we love this shojo series and continue to follow it. The drama unfolds slowly yet never really lets go of the agreeable humor that holds this likeable series together.