Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. Nicknamed "Sadako" after the haunting movie character, everyone is afraid to come near her for fear of being cursed. But underneath her scary exterior lies an ordinary teenager who just wants to make friends.
I just love this series; that's all there is to it. It's an amazing series and I'm always eager for the next one. (Plus, you know you love a book when you have a grin on your face the whole time your reading it, even if you try not to because you're in public.)
In the first chapter, the group goes to the beach, where romance is in the air. Sawaka is off with Kazehaya, who says she looks cute (after Ayane unbuttons the top of her uniform shirt and shortens her skirt), and they build, what I think is supposed to be, a sandcastle. Sawaka asks him what he talked about with her father, which is cute, and then he invites her to his house.
Meanwhile, Chizu is having a arm-wrestling competition with the guys who are flirting with her. When Ryu comes up, he wrestles her, wins, and takes a walk with her while holding her hand. Ayane, at the same time, is talking with Kento, who lays his head on her shoulder. This is a big step for Ryu and Chizu, but not much else develops between them, although it seems that Chizu is now thinking about it. Kento, though, shows up several times, and it's obvious something is going to happen with him, and while I'm sure it will be with Ayane, I feel there's something else there we're not being told about yet.
In the next two chapter, it's Sawako's turn to meet the family. She first meets his mother, who is sweet and homely, before they go up to Kazehaya's room. They're supposed to study, but instead start looking at pictures, and then start talking. They end up telling each other when they first found out that they liked each other, are surprised by how long ago it was, and then get off on calling each other by their first name. (I don't really understand this, or I didn't used to, but I understand that's it's a big thing in Japan, and so it doesn't bother me anymore.) It's super adorable, especially when Sawako calls him Shota, and they both just about die from embarrassment. (Also, I kind of love his name. Shota Kazehaya [or is it Kazehaya Shota?]. It just seems so fitting for him.)
They are just too cute. I love seeing them getting closer, getting comfortable around each other. I just love it. I also like seeing Sawako getting more confident in herself, which is more obvious in this volume since she is speaking up more with her friends, and is more open while talking with the girls. And it's nice to see her being bold when it comes to Kazehaya. (I'm hoping a kiss is in their near future. A kiss on the lips would be nice, but I thought earlier that one on the cheek would be just perfect. For either one of them to plant it, too. Ahhhh, I'm just fangirling all over the place over here!)
What was I saying? Oh, right...
They are interrupted (before anything can happen, although I don't think anything would have) by Kazehaya's mother. They're then sent out to bring ice cream to his father and the baseball team, including his little brother. His little brother is cute and blunt, like little kids are. His father, though, is stern and 'dignified', but could be seen as a little mean. This is mostly just sweet, and good for Sawako.
Within the next two chapter, they're all getting ready for the school trip, now that school has started up again. (I'm so jealous of how many trips they take in manga; do they actually take that many in real life in Japan?) They get in groups, and the girls talk about where they're going and talk some about the boys. Ayane gets asked out by a boy name Mogi in a different class (who I thought was someone else until we learned his name, and so was confused. But we'd never met him before, so that's cleared up), and says yes, before they leave for Okinawa.
I like seeing the girls talk about the boys, it's so refreshing and fun. (But maybe that's only me, because I've never really done that? It is good for Sawako, though.) And it's so funny when Ayane teases Kazehaya, trying to push their relationship forward. For instance, when she tells him that Sawako is wearing panties with strings on them, and he gets all embarrassed and can't stop thinking about it. I love seeing him fight with his physical attraction to Sawako, try to hold himself back; that's sometimes harder to find, in manga and novels, and so I always get excited when I see it.
Anyway, the volume ends with some girl (from another class, and who they don't show us) asking for Ryu. Aside from that, the girls and boys are having fun, and teasing each other.
Like I said at the beginning, I love this series. I can't help myself from fangirling over it everytime. It's so smoothly put together, a little elegant and subtle, lighthearted, maybe nostalgic. Pretty. A great, simple story of a first love. It is just so fantastic, and I... don't know what else to say about it. But that I love it.
On a sidenote, I am seriously thinking about starting the anime. And looking up the live-action movie (have they been translated/released with subtitles? They should be). Shiina has mentioned them both in the side bar of the last few volumes, and it makes me curious and excited, and like I want to start it right this instant.
Another sidenote: is VIZ going to be slowing down the release schedule soon? Because I noticed that we're almost all caught up, which is usually when the releases get farther apart. I don't think I've noticed it happening yet, though. I'm hoping not, because, you know, I love it and don't want to have to wait. I'm dreading it, but am thinking it's going to start happening soon.