Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So this month was volume 20 of Kare Kano, and second-to-last volume to boot. That manga had a pretty good run from vol. 15 through 19, and the first half of vol. 20 continued that run - great, right? It kind of deflates a bit after that strong start, though. And by the end of the volume - what, Arima wants to be a beat cop? Where the heck did that come from? - you can definitely see the seeds of why my Japanese-reading, manga-importing friend Bill warned me to pretend that the twentieth volume of Kare Kano was, in fact, the last volume. 'Cause there really isn't anywhere else for this story to go, other than limp bathos. In fact, I'd argue that it went there right after the mangaka led up to Yukino's grand reveal of the hidden Big Deal... and it fizzles like a pissed-on firecracker. That is to say, it manages at the same time to fail to catch fire, and stink horribly at the same time.


On the other hand, I bought all of those volumes about the future pop-star siblings-by-marriage romance in the early teens, and those kind of stank in their own feeble sort of way. Kare Kano is definitely one of those manga that blow hot and cold. It's just that I've been warned that the end of the series doesn't really blow any warmer than this, and may in fact freeze solid before the pagecount goes to zero.

I will say that I liked the dead-trees ghost imagery in the first half of vol. 20. Stretching bare limbs across the characters, entrapped in the grasping deadwood tangle whose roots aren't visible, because the artist has only drawn the top halves of the scenery. Tsuda does have a way with subtle imagery. Or possibly the sort of blatant imagery which strikes clods like yours truly in a memorable way, I suppose.

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