Ah…high school romance. It is a staple of shojo manga, and Shizuki Fujisawa adds another title to this list with Hatsu*Haru. Read on for the review of Volume 9! (For reviews of previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Relationship woes are plaguing Aoba High! After confessing his love to Shimura, Taka must now suffer the waiting game: Will she accept his feelings, or was their “relationship” just another headline for her paper? Also trapped by fear, Kagura begins to worry that she has placed her heart in the hands of the wrong boy. Amidst all this, Kai struggles to read Riko, wishing he could be as affectionate with her as he was with other girls. Will these couples work things out themselves, or will divine intervention be required?
Now that six out of our eight main characters have been paired, we finally get to the last two: Tarou and Kagura. However, nothing remotely resembling a relationship is sparking between them, mainly because Tarou’s enjoying his playboy life and Kagura’s too proud to admit she has feelings for him.
As far as tropes go, Kagura is a super-tsundere to the point that I wonder if her logic circuits are functioning correctly. Because their interactions are comprised mostly of hissing and snarling from Kagura, the narrative goes back in time to when the two were more innocent. However, Kagura’s tale of unrequited love gets poured out, not to one of her girlfriends, but Kai. The fact that she’d lay bare her heart to a boy–and one to whom she’s expressed open disdain–is so far-fetched as to jar me out of the story. Anyway, the arc concludes within a chapter (because there truly is nothing happening between Tarou and Kagura) and returns to characters who actually are working on a relationship.
Chapter 34 opens with Kai and Taka seemingly at an impasse with their respective love interests. I didn’t think Taka’s waiting game with Ayumi would turn into an issue, but it does. As for Kai, yes, he’s dating Riko, but the romance is at an elementary school level. Just as Riko’s obliviousness hit black hole levels in earlier volumes, her romantic sense is so lacking as to be ridiculous. When she’s not punching Kai due to misunderstandings, she’s sumo wrestling him, which makes me wonder how she envisioned dating Suwa-sensei. Kai’s struggle for lovey-dovey moments is meant to be comic, but with him getting beat up despite being Riko’s boyfriend, I just feel sorry for the guy.
Finally, things liven up with Aoba High’s “World’s Hottest Guy Contest.” In a bid for newspaper material, Ayumi sponsors the contest which has an overnight hot springs getaway going to the winner. Between the resulting hubbub and the varied emotions regarding the prize, the arc is a lot of fun, especially the way Taka teases Ayumi.
Extras include story-thus-far, mini-manga about Fujisawa-sensei and her assistants visiting Germany, and translation notes.
Finally an arc on the remaining yet-to-be-paired members of the main cast. Disappointingly, it’s all old history, and Kagura’s feelings for Tarou remain unrequited, although oddly Kai is made privy to those feelings. Then things move back to Kai/Riko and Taka/Ayumi. While watching Taka endear himself to Ayumi is charming, watching Kai get punched by Riko (again) is getting old.
First published at the Fandom Post.