Loving shojo manga is one of those half blessing/half curse things: you know more or less what direction they're going to go in after a few chapters, the girl is always shy and bumbling and the hottest boy in school for some reason always ends up in love with her. It's a guilty pleasure, to be sure, but just like j-dramas, there something about them that keeps you coming back for more.
The premise of Kimi Ni Todoke doesn't stray too much from this formula: Sawako Kuronuma is the girl that has a hard time talking to people and making friends, and Kazehaya is the ultra-popular boy who seems to be spending an awful lot of time with her. The spin on the premise here is that Kuronuma's nickname is Sadako -- because she looks a bit like the famous evil character from popular horror novel Ringu. They both have long black hair, I guess ... but the plus for Sawako is that she hasn't been lying on the bottom of a well for decades.
Hit the break and I'll tell you whether Viz's first release in this series is worth your dollar.
Kimi Ni Todoke
When I first started reading Kimi Ni Todoke, I wasn't convinced that Kuronuma was going to really be passable as being scary looking. After all, the manga's cover (which you can see in the gallery) portrays her as looking rather lovely. The thing that makes it all believable is the way manga-ka Karuho Shiina draws the character and chooses her expressions. For instance, in the first panel you see her face in, this is what you see:
Yikes. Maybe it's that, or how she carries herself, or a combo of the two, but that's all the poor girl needs to earn a nickname like Sadako. However, if you've picked up the book and gotten this far, you know there's a saving grace for this young lady in the form of an impossibly handsome classmate, and sure enough, along comes Kazehaya-kun.
One of things I found most appealing about Kimi Ni Todoke is the way Kazehaya and Kuronuma's relationship unfolds. Sure, the token take-my-breath-away moments are there, but by the end of the first chapter, we're still watching things blossom at a rate that never feels too slow and still kept me interested in what was coming next. Sure, the odds of this happening in real life between two students like this is probably slim to none, but we're reading shojo for a reason here, right?
As for Viz's release, it's fairly similar to the scanlations with some minor tweaks and cleanups here and there. It also comes with a sheet of stickers, which is especially hilarious if you like all of Kuronuma's goofy expressions, because a lot of them made it on there. There's a few of Kazehaya too, and this ought to delight fans of the series.
Shiina's spin on this familiar story is a solid one, and very funny to boot. It also really reminded me of a time in my own life where I felt awkward about making friends and never fitting in, and how that one person that decides to believe in you can be a real ray of light to shine through your dull days. If remembering those times puts a warm smile on your face too (or even better, you're still experiencing them!), Kimi Ni Todoke may be just the kind of manga you'll really relate to.
From other sites around the web