Saturday, March 9, 2013

Manga Review: Kodocha: Sana's Stage, Volume 7, by Miho Obana

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: TokyoPop (This has always bothered me: is it Tokyopop or TokyoPop? Does it matter?)
Volumes: 10
Spoilers?: Yes.
Buy it here: Amazon. (Out-of-Print)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Take one young actress used to getting her way, add a handful of ruthless bullies, some humorous twists, and a plastic toy hammer, and you've got the recipe for one crazy story Kodocha follows the antics of Sana, a spoiled 11-year-old TV star, and Hayama, a 6th grade Machiavelli who terrorizes both his teachers and his classmates. In their classroom war of wills, Sana and Hayama find there is more to both of them than meets the eye.


The series is getting closer to the end, so it’s getting more serious, a bit darker. And while it’s a bit of a surprise at times, it’s so exciting. I’m loving it.
The volume starts with Akito asking Sana how she feels about him, and she questions him back, but in the end they both end up telling each other that they love the other. But when they see that Fuka heard all of it, Sana goes chasing after her, and says that it was all in the past and she’s gotten over it now (which is such a frustrating lie). Sana sees Akito once more and officially says goodbye, then she devotes herself fully to her acting, gets a tutor, and doesn’t come to school for a while. A long while.
While she’s gone, Akito gets in trouble with his new teacher, who has a grudge against mean students because he was bullied as a child and so tries getting Akito in as much trouble as possible (also, because Akito told the class that he wears a wig, which, whatever). It’s obvious that, with Sana gone, Akito is reverting back to his old self, and he gets suspended. Surprisingly, his dad isn’t very upset about it, since he was a ‘hoodlum’ when he was in school (this is revealed during a very entertaining conversation--I rather like Akito's father, though).
While suspended, Akito isn’t allowed to take a test for karate to move up a color, and is super pissed, but he goes out with Fuke and Tsuyoshi and Aya. They go to an arcade, and Akito ends up getting in a fight, and then later says some biting words to Fuka. This is where I realized that Fuka doesn’t know about Akito’s violent past, and that she might not be able to handle it very well.
Sana visits with Tsuyoshi and Aya (who are kind of really sweet together; also, Tsuyoshi seems to have matured a bit, and seems just very sweet and adorable), who tell her about Akito getting in trouble, and she gets super upset. One night, on her way to work, Sana sees Akito running (something he’s taken up because of how he has nothing else to do and can’t sleep for not being able to stop thinking about Sana), and chases after him. They share a very sweet and sad moment, seeing as how they still can’t be together because of Fuka.
After this, Sana decides to start going back to school, and has a talk with Fuka. Sana has finally decided that she wants Akito and is tired of trying to make everyone else happy (finally!), and so she tells Fuka that she’ll steal Akito from her if she doesn’t buck up and actually try talking to Akito. Fuka and Akito haven’t been getting along and Fuka doesn’t know how to talk to him and she has a hard time dealing with his violent tendencies, and while it doesn’t even seem like she wants to try talking to him when he is the way he is, she won’t give him up (but she's acting like talking to him is some impossible chore--ugh! just back off and let Sana and him be together!).
This is where I realized the big difference between Sana and Fuka. They’re very similar, but Sana can deal with Akito’s violence. She has a way of calming him down and getting him to relax and not beat people up or be a total jerk. And she doesn’t shy away from him when he gets that way. Fuka, on the other hand, does. Obviously, Fuka needs to just back off already. Which I think she realizes, when she hears his full past from Tsuyoshi, and what part Sana had in it.
Anyway, there's this guy at their school, Kazuyuki, who thinks that he and Akito are best friends, but when he finds out that Akito never even knew he existed, his dreams are ruined. On Sana's first day back, we find out that he's run away and decided to kill himself. Kazuyuki’s mother is freaking out, Akito’s teacher is trying to blame him, Fuka doesn’t know how to deal with any of it, and Tsuyoshi and Sana are trying to help Akito.
Kazuyuki left his journal in Akito’s locker, which mentions how the guy thought he was getting closer to Akito and how his mother isn’t very nice but he wants her approval and pride anyway. And then how Akito betrayed him, and the guy is going to kill himself because of it. Or kill Akito (as you can imagine, I'm not happy about that thought).
Akito knows that the guy just wants some attention, so Akito talks to Sana before getting on a train and heading to where the guy should be, which is when Sana sees the bit about wanting to kill Akito. And, honestly, the ending picture of the psycho Kazuyuki is not reassuring in any sense. Oh, also, before Akito got on the train, he told Sana that he still loved her, and she cried. But, I mean, we all knew that already.
Now, I don’t believe that Akito is going to get killed (I mean, no way), but I am very excited to find out what happens next. It’s sure to be good. I’m not happy that I only have two books left, and am going to be stuck searching even more for the last one, but I do want to know what happens next. I love how the series is getting darker and more serious; the direction it is taking is very exciting.
It still strikes me as odd that these characters are only supposed to be in their first year of middle school. As I’ve said before, while the humor does seem very middle-elementary school, the characters act much more mature than that. It’s just odd to me, but I do like it.
Sidenote: I hadn’t realized that this series was being released at the same time as Sailor Moon, way back when Tokyopop was still releasing it, but there’s an ad for it in the back of the book. It just caught me off guard when I saw it, and I wanted to say something.

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