>> Tuesday, May 24, 2011
If you've ever been slightly interested in reading the Hana-Kimi and hate to have the ending ruined, stop reading now. 'Cause I am about to ruin it.
Actually, I feel like it was ruined for me. Despite a few irritations, I really loved this series. It was fun. It was romantic. It was about a growing relationship and the interactions among all these interesting people, even if the female protagonist was a little frustrating and the pace had slowed to a crawl.
So, why did the ending piss me off? For more than a hundred chapters and 20 volumes, the goal was consistently to allow our protagonist to stand at the side and support her idol/love interest. Now, that's probably a pretty weak goal, but, from the beginning, she claims she was willing to fight to do so. Not to mention lie and manipulate nearly everyone to do so.
Our hero, said idol, caught on to the situation from nearly the first moment and discovered almost at once that he loved her and wanted the same thing. Now I'm not going to criticize falling in love with her; falling in love isn't a logical thing. Nor do I object to someone who loves another wanting to have the situation so that they can spend the maximum amount of time together possible, even if doing so involves considerable sacrifice.
Our hero does exactly that, wanting to be with her so much so that he not only kept her secret, but actively worked to protect her secret (despite her own boneheaded actions) and protect her from the dangers of being a girl in a sea of guys. To do so, he also had to put a curb on his own baser instincts for more than a year and a half while living in close quarters.
Given that, during that time, she crawled into bed with him half a dozen times, slammed naked into him in a hot spring, hugged him, snuggled him, cried all over him, danced around him dressed as both a girl and a boy, got attacked and nearly stripped at least twice, nearly was revealed at least twice more in a near naked state and, of course, tripped and fell or fainted or nearly got run/trampled over times beyond counting where our hero caught her, carried her, protected her, or treated her. All during this time, he kept himself enough in hand that she was clueless that he knew she was a girl or that he was in love with her. Because he wanted her to be with him no matter what it took.
He also swallowed a great deal of jealousy (and no little pride) as people (male and female) declared their love for his roommate and she wandered blithely into friendly relationships with everyone she came across, including his own brother and his estranged father.
When, as inevitably happened, the truth came out (and, of course, these events piled up all at the same time) right after he finally confessed his love (but didn't admit to knowing her gender yet), he continued to stand beside her, putting his academic scholarship, high school career, and, presumably, his high jumping career at risk since admitting he knew she was a girl could likely get him expelled along with her.
Side note: What kind of idiot, working to hide her gender at an all-boy school, changes her clothing standing in front of an open window and flashing her breasts to the world? Sorry. Digression.
She, of course, got it all revealed and admitted it. The school at least her large pool of friends and the Resident Advisors for the dorm all rallied behind her, willing to support her and manipulate things so she could stay the last year of high school (wherein the roommate issue becomes moot since third years get their own rooms).
Instead, for no discernible reason, after she sees how everyone will support her, protect her, wants her to stay, she willingly withdraws from school and goes back to the US without warning. Say what?
OK, maybe it's just some kind of Japanese thinking.
I thought the whole intent of this exercise was to spend time with Sano Izumi because she loved him. Certainly, everyone else was working for that. She's about to move into her own room. She's been covered so they can't kick her out, but say she has to leave the school. There's a sister all-girl's school in the area (where a friend already attends) she could transfer to. Not to mention that there were probably any number of other Japanese high schools handy. Hell, her big goal in life is to be a dog trainer. It's not like she'll need to get into a top university for that.
Instead, she's just going to evaporate, putting those that supported her at risk for repercussions, including the school doctor who knew from the beginning (and who she doesn't even say goodbye to). What were all the sacrifices for? What was the point of making all these relationships just so she could abandon them? What was the point of teasing our poor hero to death for a year and a half which he accepts without complaint as long as she'll stay with him, only to have her drop him like a hot potato?
And, I have to say, though I'm not a huge advocate for promoting sex between teenagers, what is with crawling into bed with the boy you love on your last night (and he knows it's the last night) and expecting him to cuddle but not touch you? Talk about cruel and unusual punishment (and, besides, who would want that?) I did respect how many other characters made a point of ensuring any sexual relationship they might have would be safe. Still, there's a disconnect in my mind with someone so forward that they'll fake being a boy and contacting boys right and left for two years being so shy that she'll barely kiss her boyfriend (twice) before disappearing forever. Again, though, I digress.
And all the unanswered issues: Did Nakatsu and Nakao recover from their unrequited loves and find new ones? Did Nakatsu make J-list (only question answered in bonus episode). Did our hero, Sano, make Nationals? The Olympics? Anything (given that it was to be part of his career that brought this whole story forward in the first place)? What about Sano's brother, did he ever beat Sano's rival? What about his promise to our heroine? What about Sano's relationship with his family what with him going to the US? What about Nanba, who we discover becomes a model, but never find out if he finds a lasting love? What about the doctor and his unrequited first love? Or his relationship with the erstwhile photographer who stalks him for like a year and needs to fill a void in his own life?
We never find out.
This 23 volume love story then ends with the abandoned hero "visiting" her a year later on the last page (and getting a hug for his trouble). And that's it. There is an "extra" session that touched on our characters (indicating that our hero is going to college near our heroine, but doesn't intend to ask her to marry him until he graduates) and explains what's happening to them to an extent, but leaves most questions unanswered. And even this unsatisfactory episode isn't included for those poor souls who invested in the entire series in books. Ouch.
I can't speak for the world at large, but I felt like the promise of this manga was left unfulfilled and that's a pretty miserable state of affairs after reading through so much for so long and becoming so fond of characters that are treated so very badly and left unresolved.
Damn it, I'm going to have to move this series into just "okay."