It feels like it's been a long time since we've done our regular work, by which I mean we've mostly been translating anime, anime extras, and simulpubs for the last few weeks, and given very little thought to the manga tankobons we usually deal with. During that time, we realized it would be super nice to get caught up on writing all our reviews and not have to worry about them for a while, but instead we decided to play Kingdom Hearts and still not worry about them for a while, but with one review still to write before we got back to what we sort of consider to be our "real" job (despite the very realness of all the other stuff we translate). That being the case, it's been a long time since we finished this volume of My Monster Secret. But on the bright side! we don't have any other manga stories crowding out memories of it. Just all the other stuff we're thinking about.
But! of course we don't want to neglect this volume, because it is absolutely adorable. It starts with a follow-up chapter on the Koumoto-sensei/Sakurada thing, which does mention the inappropriateness of the teacher/student love affair, but it also says that pretty much everybody else on the faculty is like, "Whatever, Sakurada's graduating soon." I'm still worried that people are going to freak out about it, though, because students and teachers SHOULD NOT DATE, DARNIT! But, and I think I mentioned this in the last review, I think that's just because of the unbalanced power dynamic, which I'm pretty sure is not really a factor with Akari and Sakurada. I think their love is pure and genuine, and I'm happy for them.
Next we go back to the same antics that we dealt with so frequently in the early stages of this series: Asahi trying to keep Youko's secret from getting out while she is once again thrust into a situation where everything is new and surprising. It was really cute, though, because! Youko has friends from school now! I mean, of course she's had friends from school through most of the series, but now it's more than just the freaks who know her secret. She's, like, totally popular and stuff now. And I have to admit that Masuda-sensei does a pretty good job of adding new twists to the same old jokes.
But let's move on to the good part, shall we? The kids are getting close to graduation, which means big changes are a-coming. This is especially true for Mikan, who has to find a good job right out of high school, so she can help support her family. She gets a job offer far out of town, and now she's faced with the hardest decision of her life. So what does she do? She tries to force answers out of Rin, of course! She is more determined to know about the future than she's ever been, but she can't bring herself to be so cruel as to deprive Rin of her beloved hamburg, and Rin manages to stay strong and not say anything despite this potential deprivation, so Mikan gives in. She must feel pretty nervous, not knowing what the future holds. All she wants is to stay with the people she cares about, but for her family she has to move away. She goes off to the park to be alone, and who should find her but Asahi! She cries to him, and he moves to comfort her, but stops himself because he knows how she feels about him, and he knows he can't return those feelings, and he decides that it would be crueler to string her along like that. That's a really tough situation to be in, man. I think that maybe Asahi was right in stopping himself, but dang, poor Mikan.
Fortunately(?), there is someone nearby who can return those feelings to Mikan. I know they already revealed that he had a crush on her, but I want to point out (to be a smarty-pants?) that there were hints that Okada liked Mikan as far back as volume one. In the very first chapter where she was on a rampage, it was Okada who came along and said, "Look, dude, this is how you deal with Mikan." What I did not see coming was that he could read minds. I mean, we always suspected he knew the truth about Youko all along, but our suspicions did not go this far. We just thought he was extra observant because come on. Youko and Asahi really are not the best at keeping secrets. But apparently he hasn't been as good at it since he got to high school, so it's possible that the mind-reading thing is just convenient retcon. And frankly, this makes his powers a bit of a mystery. Apparently he reads minds the most when he's not feeling well? It wasn't exactly clear. It said it depended on how he was feeling, but it didn't really specify one way or the other. Just based on when he read Mei's mind, it seems like it happens as inconveniently as possible.
Anyway, Okada's story is so bittersweet, I love it. He asks Mikan to go out with him, and again she asks him why. This time it's a little more clear that she knows exactly why, but she wants him to say it out loud. It sort of seems cruel, but I think it's important for people to communicate, so I'm with her on this one. But Okada is stupid about it, which is kind of okay, because otherwise we wouldn't have a story. He decides his chances with Mikan are gone, and that's when he runs into Mei. Of course he knew all along that she had a crush on him, because he can read minds. But since he's busy being angsty, he's desperate, so he decides to be a hero and give at least one person a happy ending. It really had me going, "Awwwwww" but I don't have a lot more to add to that. It seems very noble in the moment, the idea of him giving up on his dream (so sad!) in the hopes of helping someone else get hers. But then Mei points out that he's just using her to forget about Mikan, and she's totally right, and that makes me think, "Yeah, don't be a jerk, stupid." Anyway, it's another thing that makes me glad that, much as the Kuromines can't keep a secret to save their lives, that doesn't mean they're stupid. They're observant and can figure things out.
So that's when Okada gets really desperate and decides to go for broke. He runs all the way to Mikan's place to confess his love to her, and oh my goodness, he was adorable about it. All, "I'll visit you every day! ...Well, that might be too much. But once a week!" And she's like, "Oh yeah, I can just come visit." I mean, seriously, people, y'all need to remember the wonders of modern transportation. And then she laughs him to scorn. Poor guy. Another thing about this series: there's like a million love confessions, and every one of them (except Sakurada's) has the confessor going, "Wow, I had no idea how terrifying this would be!" I imagine this is even worse for Okada, because he's the type with "an image." And I don't like it when people have "an image," so I think it serves him right that Mikan laughed at him, but I also understand that he's going to be more sensitive to that, and I do genuinely feel bad for him, because it did take a lot of courage for him to say that to her. But she tells him she's in no position to tell him to forget about her, so if he wants to keep trying to win her over, whatever.
And then we get to see lots of scenes of Mikan and Okada fighting...over? around? Asahi. Love triangles can be a little complicated. But we also get a flashback to the three of them being friends, and it was very cute. And now Okada has given up his "image," and he's going to be true to his heart, like they tell you in the ending song from Mulan. They also hint very strongly that he and Sen are going to be stepbrothers, and if you're paying attention, you see that one of the gods of fortune is in fact Sen's glasses, so I'm a little curious and a little afraid of how that's going to play out later on.
Then there's a chapter of roasting sweet potatoes and Akane nearly destroying the world again. It was...rather odd. I guess that can happen when you're trying once again to add a new twist (ha ha ha) to old gags. I think it was funny, but frankly, I'm not really sure what was going on there. On the other hand, I don't think there was a whole lot to be sure of. You'll just have to read it to see what we're talking about.
Anyway, it looks like all of Asahi's friends have been paired off (not officially for Shimada, but you all know it's going to happen), so the big question is will Nagisa get a boyfriend before this thing is through? Yuka seemed to know Nagisa, so does this mean Nagisa will be paired up with Sen? Oh, I hope not. Athena points out that she's more likely to be paired up with someone named Momochi. So are there still new characters on the horizon? Only future volumes will tell!
Aww, what a cute series. That reminds me, we still have to write a review of volume 21.
As for this week's new releases, we have...nothing! But volume 8 of Hatsu*Haru comes out next week, so everybody get it on the day it comes out and read it, and then you can read our review of it, which we will post the following Wednesday!
Today I'm thankful for managing to hold up pretty well in the heat, having time to watch three episodes of Miraculous after we watched 3 Below, getting to watch Bring the Funny, plans being in the works to go to Harry Potter Land, and getting to remember a super cute volume of My Monster Secret.