We finished work miraculously early, so now we're finally getting caught up on reviews! ...Or at least, I hope we are. But either way, now we're talking about Hatsu*Haru volume...something. *checks* Volume eight! And because we had so much between translating the volume and getting to this review (we translated three other time-intensive volumes of manga), when I look back on this volume, at first I can only remember one thing, and it's Cupid Ayumi with a snail shell. We got to the chapter with that title page, and we were like, "Wha......?" Then we read the chapter, and we were like, "Ooohh, okay."
I don't think this is relevant to anything, but we did take this volume to the Disneyland Office, and it's weird, because I think it's only the second volume we've attempted to translate at Disneyland (the first being volume one). The other interesting thing about it is that both attempts failed, in terms of completing a first draft. The first time, it was because we ended up talking to someone for a long time (I'm gonna say it was worth it). This time, too, we were distracted. In fact, the only reason we had taken the book to Disneyland at all is that it was our last chance to check out the Lunar New Year shows, since the time we went for Lunar New Year before that it was raining, and for some reason they don't do outdoor entertainment in the rain. On top of that, word had gotten around about Lunar New Year, so people were saving seats for the procession long before it started. And what that meant is that, instead of planting ourselves on a nearby bench and waiting for the parade/show thing, we sat somewhere else (not too close to the show, so as to avoid spoilers) in hopes of getting better seats for the next procession, and then we had to keep getting up and moving in accordance with the procession schedule. If we had been able to sit in the same place, would we have finished our first draft? ...Based on all of Ayumi's scientific babble (and we thought Kai was bad!), I'm going to say the answer is probably no.
Anyway. Let's go back to the beginning. The first chapter in this volume is super adorable. Ayumi asks Takaya if she can write an article about them breaking up, and then suddenly Takaya is inexplicably angry. Kai's reaction to the whole thing is so typically Kai. He's kind of like Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, in that his brain can't seem to process the idea that maybe he's not the center of the universe. Takaya's mad? Well of course he's mad at Kai. What else could there possibly be that would affect his emotions like that? And then when Ayumi confessed that it might be her fault, but that she didn't know what she did wrong, the look Kai and Riko exchange is just so great. And Kai's like, "I thought she was supposed to be smart." I love that in this series, when characters waste time not being able to process their emotions, it always makes sense for the character, and it's done in a way that doesn't make me feel like the story is dragging it out for no reason.
Oh! And there was the scene where Ayumi was going to show Takaya her underwear. Oh my goodness, those kids. Her reaction to Takaya's reaction was so tragic and so hilarious. It looks like she has similar problems to Riko, with the whole being sure that no guy would ever see her as date material thing. She's also a little like Kai, in that the answer would be super obvious if she weren't insisting on being her.
So that brings us back to the snails. Of course we looked up snails and love darts, and thinking back on it, I'm a little confused, and I'm not sure if that's because I forgot some details or because it's really just that confusing. We don't even remember if scientists have figured out the reason snails use love darts, but we can tell you that what Ayumi is talking about is a real thing. I think it's actually a very good thing that she has other things on her mind than boys. I mean, I do get frustrated with the whole "we don't need romance!" thing, but I also get frustrated with excessive boy-(or girl-)craziness. (You should read our review of the Luna story in Sailor Moon.) So I like that she's interested in finding out about the world. In fact, in the earlier chapter, when she was taking pictures of insects for the school paper, I was like, "That's not news..." but then we learned more about her search for truth, and suddenly it all made sense. Anyway, that all being the case, she really stays true to her character.
So Takaya overheard Kai and Riko talking about him and Ayumi (oh yeah, this is before the snail thing), and he realizes he needs to actually communicate his feelings. So he confesses his love, and Ayumi is like, "Wait...why?" And she compiles a list of all her possible theories as to why he might like her. I'm kind of with her on this, actually--why would it be so much torture? I mean, I'm willing to trust Kai on this, since he clearly has more experience in that arena, but that doesn't mean I understand why. I was also thinking that if Takaya really cared about her, he would understand that (I mean, he's been spending a lot of time with her, and he's already proved that he knows her well enough to know that when she asks him to join her for lunch it means she's going to make him work), so I really didn't think it should be a problem.
And it wasn't! Because of course it wasn't. Takaya's the best guy in the world (Kai's words), of course he's not going to give up on the girl he loves just because she doesn't get why. The other guy who dumped her for doing that was just shallow and probably only liked her for her looks. Like she said, he hardly knew her. So in his case, it probably was because of her boobs, and that would probably be why he wouldn't want to admit it. If he'd really known her, he'd know she'd be okay with that. But anyway, Takaya comes and sincerely answers her question, and it was just so sweet. And she still didn't believe him, so he tried to kiss her! But she blocked it! And she was like, "What are you doing?" and he was like, "I thought this would convince you." And it was very cute, but also brings up the matter of consent. He never followed through, though, so I think it's okay.
Next we go back to Kai and Riko. They're planning another date! Or rather not planning another date. It was so cute how determined Kai was not to make any plans...and how he couldn't help making plans anyway. I think that originally, we were somewhere between Kai and Riko, where we liked to make sure we had some idea what was going on but didn't want to take the effort to make a detailed schedule or anything, but in recent years, we've dealt with so many Kai-types who don't bother telling us what they're planning in their heads that we've had to become even more flexible, because the Kai-types in our lives really can't handle a change in plans. (Someone was once describing what it was like to have Asperger's, and they said that people with Asperger's have a really hard time changing gears if things change, and we were like, "You just described almost everybody I know.") But I digress.
We did check to see if Kai's mother was right about making too many teru teru bozus. I mean, it's just a superstition anyway, so there's not really any "right" answer, but we checked to see if there was also a superstition that making too many would make it rain. We didn't find any evidence to that being a thing, but we did find out that the proper way to make a teru teru bozu is to not draw a face on it, because then if it doesn't rain, you give it a face as a thank you, and if it does rain, it doesn't get a face because it didn't do its job. But we did suspect something as soon as...Katsuo? I think there's a Katsuo and a Masuo and one is in Sazae-san, and the other one is Kai's brother-in-law, but I can never remember which is which. Anyway, he was like, "I guess I have allergies now!" and we were like, "Why would you assume you suddenly have allergies and not that it's a cold?" Maybe it was delusional optimism. But of course, it was a cold.
And since Nagisa and Ushio's parents now both had a cold, Kai ended up taking them on his date with Riko. We knew he wouldn't be able to abandon them, he's such a good uncle. The whole date was very cute, and I will say that we deal with toddler's potty emergencies exactly the same way Riko does. "Oh, you need to address a bodily function? Let's go get the person who's really responsible for you." I have to agree that when you deal with small kids like that, especially ones that are that freshly potty-trained, it's really just common sense to bring a change of clothes. And I really appreciate that Kai understand that just because they're little doesn't mean kids don't have feelings like older people do. It always drove us nuts when we would be babysitting with other people, and those people would keep saying, "They're too young, they don't understand." Kids understand a lot more than you think.
Finally, we have Riko thinking back to her own father. Kai surmised in an earlier volume that it likely wasn't a divorce, and now we know that he did die of an unspecified illness. I'm not sure I have much more to say about him, but the chapter was very bittersweet. Athena points out that he probably should have at least consulted the mother before he bought the skateboard, but it seems like they generally trust each other. I also liked his take that hey, at least bumps and scrapes can heal...which of course is a lot sadder in the context, but also carries a lot more weight.
But I think one of the best parts about it is that Kai was paying enough attention to Riko to pick up on all the hints about her interest in skateboarding and the connection to her father. ...And that reminds me! He was sad because Nagisa asked her if she was going to marry Kai and Riko said she didn't know! Aww, poor Kai! I seem to remember having something to say about that and about kids being kids, but I've clean forgotten it now. At any rate, I think I can really relate to Riko and how she told herself she just needed to accept that bad things happen, but by doing that she gave up on believing that good things can happen, too. I feel like I've fallen into the same trap--like you don't want to get your hopes up about things because they might not work out, but then you stop going after the good things entirely. It's a dangerous place to be, because faith is a principle of action--you can wait for good things to happen all you want, but if you really believe they will, you need to put yourself in places where the good things can get to you.
Of course, it all works out in the end, because Kai reminds Riko of her childhood love of skateboarding, and it rekindles her connection with her father, and now they're even more deeply in love. Awwwwwwww. Now the only suspense is to find out if Riko's mother is going to cause trouble now that she knows Riko and Kai are dating. Dun dun DUN! Oh, and if Ayumi ever does fall in love with Takaya. And we still have to explore Tora and Kagura's relationship. By the way, the back-cover blurb was hilarious. Let us know if they didn't use it for the English version...oh, I'll just tell you. Kagura is on the front cover, and Tora is on the back cover, but nothing happens with either of them in the whole volume. Nevertheless, the back-cover summary starts out by talking about the forbidden love between the son and daughter of Buddhist and Shinto priests. And then it says, "...But this isn't about them."
I did want to address Ayumi and Takaya, and how Ayumi agreed to date Takaya but can't promise she'll ever like him back. Not sure I had anything to say, though, except that since she was the one to point out that 10/10 in shoujo manga they end up together, she really shouldn't have been so surprised.
This series is so sweet, you guys. And it's also the only release we have this week, so we hope everybody who's interested went and got it! So now we're all caught up on reviews again, but! Volume nine of Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight comes out next week, so tune in on Wednesday to read our review of it!
Today I'm thankful for another fun episode of Bring the Funny, getting to look back again on the sweetness that is Hatsu*Haru, the heat not totally melting the Hershey Gold we had for dessert, the beautiful Mardi Gras mask magnets Gaston and Alice got us in New Orleans (which we finally managed to display last week-ish), and Page once again being super adorable.