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Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3

After last weeks small delay, I’m back on track with my midweek manga reviews! This time around I’ll be taking a look at Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3, but first some news…

And now, onto this weeks review of Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3..

Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 3Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3
by Izumi Matsumoto
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Izumi Matsumoto’s classic 80s teen romance manga series continues with Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3! These volumes are full of the romantic comedy hijinks you’d expect, as missed signals, misunderstandings and more plague Kyosuke as he wrestles with his feeling for Ayukawa despite his ongoing relationship with her best friend, Hikaru. While the first volume felt a bit flat and bland, the humor and development in these two volumes helps with that problem tremendously, as does Matsumoto’s decision to grow out the supporting cast with in the form of Ayukawa’s boss at a restaurant, and by the introduction of Yuu, a childhood friend of Hikaru and Ayukawa’s who’s got designs on winning Hikaru’s heart.

Much of these volumes are something of a comedy of errors, with Hikaru’s and Kyosuke’s inability to communicate clearly, leading from one awkward mishap to another. Inevitably these misunderstandings simply leads to Hikaru falling deeper in love with Kyosuke. Given the set up with Kyosuke, Hikaru and Ayukawa all being friends, and the way Kyosuke can’t quite bring himself to tell Hikaru to leave him alone, it’d be very easy for him to come off as an unlikable character. However, Matsumoto uses the misunderstandings and his inability to read women to portray him as well intentioned but hopelessly naive, immature and inexperienced. That said, there are certainly moments where it’s hard to not feel for poor Hikaru who’s utter devotion to Kyosuke verges on the heartbreaking at times. I think that’s what really keeps it from being a charming romantic comedy, as there are a number of times Kyosuke could extricate himself from the situation with Hikaru if he would just grow a backbone and be honest with her. Of course, doing that would most likely ruin any chance he has with Ayukawa and also result in a much, much shorter series.

Another thing that might be worth noting is the change in format and translation between these two volumes. Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 1 + 2 seem to have been handled by a different company and translation team, leading them to have a slightly different cover design and some odd translation ticks, such as the inclusion of invert exclamation marks during certain parts of the dialogue. From volume three on the series translation is handled by DMP’s Digital Manga Guild.

Matsumoto’s artwork is perfectly acceptable, and it does a fantastic job at capturing the fashion, feathered hair and more of 1980s Japan. He includes just the right amount of background, allowing the story to remain grounded and conveying a sense of time and place, and knows just when to remove it to highlight and accentuate an emotional or important moment. While Kyosuke continues to use his psychic powers, they rarely manifest in a flashy manner and often the only reason you know he’s used them is thanks to Matsumoto’s visual short hand or sound effects. There actually are a few instances of fighting in these volumes, but they’re clearly not the highlight and usually serve to reinforce the idea of Ayukawa being a delinquent, Yuu’s dedication to becoming stronger, or Kyosuke’s complete inability to defend himself properly. The odd moments of physical comedy are well done and Matsumoto’s over reactions are never cartoonishly overdone, thus blending seamlessly into the look and feel of the series.

I’m not typically a fan of romantic comedies, but there have been a few examples in the past where they’ve managed to hook me with their charm, most notably another DMP title, Itazura Na Kiss. Kimagure Orange Road hasn’t quite wormed it’s way into my heart the way that series has. There’s certainly some potential thanks in large part to Matsumoto’s depiction of the upbeat Hikaru and the lack of out and out cruelty on the part of anyone involved. On top of that, the romantic tension and conflict is so subdued that it ends up being a surprisingly relaxing and soothing read.

Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3 are now available digitally from DMP and Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the pusblisher.

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  1. November 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm

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