Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Mizuki Kawashita
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Advanced)
MSRP: $7.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now Available
When once we were lovers would love strike again?
Most hot-blooded boys Junpei’s age would consider themselves lucky to be surrounded by not just one attractive girl but four of them who think highly of him. In the case of Junpei Manaka, however, despite how desirable these four girls are they are more than a handful for an inexperienced and confused boy who makes Strawberry 100% such a joy to read. Even in it’s ninth volume, the story still remains fresh enough to keep us wanting more.
In the final chapter of Volume 8, Junpei went to plea with Yui Minamito’s strict father to have Yui stay with him in order to continue going to Omi High back where he lives. Unfortunately, her father was outraged when he found out the Yui was sleeping in his room (since he knows full well that Yui has a habit of undressing in her sleep) and won’t allow it so Yui storms out with Junpei following her.
Well, in the opening chapter of Volume 10, Yui and Junpei – having boarded a train – decide to stay in a hotel in another town so they would try to convince her father again. After spending an awkward evening with the girl who is clearly no longer a child, Junpei finds out that Yui considers him more than just a good friend. She trusts him and, in the end, both Yui’s parents could see that Junpei is a noble kid who is willing to go at great lengths to help a friend. Of course, what happens to Junpei during their conversation that same night helped as well.
Back home and glad the Yui was able to come back to the city, Junpei finds himself playing along with his boss’ plan to see Tsukasa in a bathing suit. He invited the two of them to go swimming at his son’s place only Junpei feels a bit conflicted about the whole thing. On the one hand, he’d love to see Tsukasa in a bikini but on the other hand the boy can’t swim! In a fun twist, Tsukasa does find out and teaches Junpei the basics. Things are certainly looking good for those two … or so it seems just for a little while.
After a few thugs bump into Junpei while heading home to do homework he neglected while having fun all summer, Junpei meets a tall and strapping young handsome man who helps Junpei pick up change he dropped. He’s an impressive young man who Junpei thinks smells like sweets. It isn’t until Tsukasa invites Junpei to her house to sample a cake recipe that he realizes that the baker’s grandson where she works (and talks about often) is actually the tall guy that helped him pick up his change as has come over her house. He imagines that a man like Higure could easily sweep any girl off her feet and has probably won Tsukasa over. Sneaking a peek, Junpei sees what he thinks is a romantic embrace and in a rare fit of jealousy the boy goes running out of Tsukasa’s house only to be cheered up by Aya.
In fact, Aya manages to lift his spirits again when – after hearing Satsuki flirt shamelessly with Junpei – imitates Satsuki’s outrageous line just when Junpei entered the room. Embarrassment aside, they suddenly realize that the school festival is coming up soon and that they’ll have to hurry up and come up with a way to promote their movie. With Hiroshi still editing the movie, there’s really very little time left.
Eventually, Tsukasa does offer an explanation of what happened during the evening that Junpei caught her embracing the handsome young pastry chef and, without spoiling what is said, it gives Junpei an uneasy feeling that they might finally be growing apart. Yet a big part of Junpei doesn’t want to give up on Tsukasa and asks her to keep September 16, Tsukasa’s birthday, open for him. She accepts his invitation for a date but more offers keep coming in with Satsuki offering to take him to a concert on the day before Tsukasa’s birthday and Aya inviting him to a barbeque at her place to read her manuscript on the same day.
It is Hiroshi that comes up with a plan that would have each girl in the same place at once so the three dates wouldn’t be a disaster for Junpei. Under the guise of filming promotional footage for their movie, the three girls dress up in sexy outfits only to find the little studio going up in flames. Junpei stays with Tsukasa as the others escape and he spends the whole late night with her after the eventful evening. In fact, they even visit their old school and relive a good memory.
In the end, the Tsukasa-Junpei relationship is beginning to become more complex as old feeling and new ones mix together to make for one interesting volume. A lot happens in Volume 9 in a volume that’s ripe with the familiar humor we have come to love from this series as well as something meaningful and real when it comes to a relationship that definitely has us interested.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
With the situation with Yui finally resolved, Junpei finds himself concentrating on his renewed feeling for Tsukasa that has been developing since the last two volumes. Not only does he spend a day learning to swim with her but he is invited to her place to try a cake only to find himself worried that Tsukasa might love another guy. Then he makes the mistake of setting up a date with Aya, Tsukasa and Satsuki all on the same day.
Once again, the abundance of fan service might seem like the main attraction but it just doesn’t hide the fact that the overall art is simply stunning. The art is good enough to make the comical and emotional moments really stand out.
While falling back on its more comical and gimmicky storytelling, there’s also a deeper and emotional tone that makes this a truly endearing volume in a series that is more than just the flashing of panties. Ok, there’s a lot of flashing of panties but it doesn’t really hide the fact that Junpei’s story is a deep and involving one about youth and love.