Monday, February 18, 2019

Kase-san and Cherry Blossoms (volume 5) - a much awaited next step (Manga Review)

Kase and Yamada
Finally, a Kase-san volume that came out after I started this blog of reviews. It's been so hard not talking about this series but chronologically, the prior volumes had already come out by the time I was ready to talk about them. With the publication of Kase-san and Cherry Blossoms (essentially volume 5 in the series, published by Seven Seas), I get to gush about one of my favorite couples.

Kase-san and Cherry Blossoms picks up with Yamada studying for entrance exams, and a flashback to her pre-couple days with Kase. The rest of the volume covers the entrance exam and moving to start college. I'm super excited that this series is going beyond high-school romance. To be honest, I hope it continues into their adult lives as well!

The volume is filled with lots of smiles, tears, cute looks, really really sweet kisses, and...oh, I can't reveal it...but OMG...a big step for the couple. Like the volumes before it. This isn't about drama, or really much plot at all. It's just more stories about two people that we like who really really like each other in the simplest, sweetest ways possible.

One of the things that I think has made this series stand out, and survive despite changes in its publication history, is that it perfectly balances its cute/sweetness and likable characters without giving in to the lustful or salacious moments (the fan service, if you will). Let's compare Hiromi Takashima's work in the Kase-san series with Milk Morinaga's work to highlight the difference. I really like a lot of Milk Morinaga's work (I'm probably one of the few who think "Secret of the Princess" is her best). But, often, her series have some pretty risque moments, especially considering they are about underage girls. The art leaves little to be imagined in those series' most intimate moments.

But with Kase-san, Takashima-sensei, takes the best elements of sweetness and then gives the two lead characters such lovability, that you get so lost in their twinkliness (god this is a terribly written review! >_< ) that you couldn't ask for anything more. In fact, to add any real fan-service would detract so much from the wholesomeness (much better word choice, Jaime!). Sometimes, you need something that reminds you of sunshine, and that's the Kase-san series. This is no criticism of other series, just a highlight of one thing that makes Kase-san unique. It is pure, but pure in a totally unrealistically cute way (sort of like Hello Kitty, really).

This also isn't the self-serious type of yuri, exemplified in the anime Maria Watches Over Us (which BTW is my favorite series of all time, so also not a complaint). That series does have cuteness and sweetness, but in a much more realistic (you're laughing at me for this) depiction - it is more contained in individual personalities than in it's total world-view. In Kase-san, there is never any doubt of their love for each other, never a hint there will be any drama, just waiting for the next way they will get Yamada to blubberingly cry out her love for Kase or Kase blushingly suggesting something slightly lewd to Yamada which Yamada completely, naively, doesn't get which makes Kase sigh in relief as she is always just as nervous about moving forward as her girlfriend is comfortable in Kase's presence. Yamada and Kase are just two rays of sunshine lighting up the pages, which is sometimes exactly what you need.

As with the prior volumes, Volume 5 (Kase-san and Cherry Blossoms) is just as refreshingly simple and lovely as they all have been. The art is consistent, with a good variation in line thickness, decent (but not profound) use of screentones, clear character design, great emotional expression, a mix of standard and comedic character depictions, and clear action. It's a great 8/10. Being as perfect as it is, for what it set out to do, I can't shake the feeling I should be rating it higher. But maybe I'm slightly taking for granted just how hard it is to be this sunny, this consistently.

🚺

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