Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Karuho Shiina
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now Available
A scary kind of love story.
It’s not easy being Sawako Kuronuma as we can see in Volume 1 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me To You.
Sure, there’s a pretty girl underneath the straight black hair and unwelcoming expression that makes her classmates want to run for the hills but Sawako is a very awkward girl. Sure, it doesn’t help that all the students call her “Sadako” since she looks like she stepped out of a Japanese horror flick like “The Ring” or “The Grudge” but this is the kind of girl who wants to do a good deed every day and to become closer to her fellow classmates.
Of course, it’s not easy for her seeing that the girl has the tendency to creep up to people and, on top of that, her smile looks like a disturbing grin. Besides the fact that the girl comes off as creepy, classmates and other students have circulated rumors that if you look into her eyes for more than three seconds you become cursed with bad luck. Oh, they also think she can summon ghosts for some reason. So you can see why when she opens her mouth, students tend to run away from her.
That is until fellow classmate Shota Kazehaya attempts to have a conversation with her. He’s the only boy in school who greets her with a warm greeting each morning with a smile and while he just isn’t able to look her in the eyes he is clearly not afraid of Sawako. Our creepy girl begins to admire Kazehaya and her admiration for him goes well beyond the fact that the boy is handsome and quite popular. For the first time, Sawako is finally having a pleasant conversation with somebody and that somebody even invites her to an event he planned for his classmates … which turns out to be a test of courage at night.
Because she is seen talking to the most popular boy in class, people slowly begin to approach her. When two classmates, Yoshida and Yano, come up with the idea that somebody (preferably Sawako) show up at the event and play the role of a ghost, it is Sawako who does volunteer. In doing so she wins major points with the two girls who suddenly begin to lighten up around her. The fact is that despite looking like the meanest girls you will ever meet, they have a soft spot for Sawako’s plight. They are even touched by her desire to become friends with everyone.
Meanwhile, Kazehaya doesn’t only want to help the creepy girl become more friendly with everyone around her but he actually wants to see more of her. Before the summer break he even tells her that he’d like to see her again. When he finds a lost puppy, he feels like he found a way to keep seeing her. Soon, other students who would never had approached her want to sit next to her. She even helps her fellow classmates understand their homework. Everything seems to be coming together for the quiet girl but nothing good lasts very long as we can see from the final chapter in the volume. What possible obstacles will come between Sawako and Kazehaya remains to be seen as Sawako comes to realize why the cutest boy in class doesn’t even have a girlfriend.
On the surface, Volume 1 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You feels all too familiar. The creepy-girl-who-is-really-cute plot has been done before in manga like The Wallflower but somehow this one manages to be agreeable and actually kind of cute. The characters are even likeable, although we have yet to see how they develop in future volumes. One this is for sure, though, we will certainly follow this one thanks to Karuho Shiina’s decent art and fun storytelling style.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Aside from looking like the evil entity from the movie “The Ring,” Sawako Kuronuma isn’t the most approachable of girls. Then she meets the handsome, outgoing and friendly Shota Kazehaya who changes the way people see her. Suddenly, this girl everyone is scared to talk to becomes more popular.
Karuho Shiina’s art is nothing original. In fact, it looks way too familiar but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good and it certainly works well for this series.
The first volume of Kimi ni Todoke begins what appears to be a familiar formula that has been done before but the more you read it the more you come to like this series that is actually a fun shoujo read. The characters are actually likeable, although it’s still too early to tell if they will develop into characters you will come to appreciate. Either way, this is a shoujo series we will keep our eyes on for a good reason.