Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Shortcake Cake volume 6 starts the romance (Manga Review)

Two teen boys on the cover, looking sexy and likable
Shortcake Cake vol. 6 - 7/10

It would be hard to discuss Shortcake Cake vol. 6 (Shojo Beat/Viz) without spoilers. So this is your warning. The next few paragraphs of this review are all spoilers. Skip to the last 3 paragraphs if you don't want spoilers. You've been warned!

SPOILERS ahead (okay, you've been warned again!)

In volume 6, Ten, who lives in a boarding house with a few other students while attending high school, has fully realized that she likes Riku. But at the end of vol. 5, Chiaki finally confessed to her clearly. We start off with Ten making her feelings for Riku known to Chiaki and turning him down.

Ten then spends time with Riku, cementing her clarity of feelings, turning Chiaki down again so he knows for sure, and then finally confessing her feelings to Riku. But Riku just doesn't seem totally sure that she means what he is hearing and the volume leaves on the cliffhanger of Chiaki asking her if she really likes him the way he hopes.

That's all that really happens in the volume. So in many ways, from a plot perspective, not much occurs. And yet, each chapter feels well spent as the three sort out their feelings and Ten takes control of the situation by being honest with both boys. There are some great interactions with Riku as she's working up to telling him. Sadly, Chiaki's character feels less defined in this volume. Some of what was special about his character in the early volumes seems missing in his characterization recently, including in this volume. He could be more or less any random good looking nice guy at this point. I miss his personality.


Also, we still don't have anything going on with Rei, the strange son of the landlord. Early in the series, there was some sort of backstory between Rei and Riku, but that sub plot seems to have been dropped for now. Rei also was trying, ineffectually, to date Ten. That too has gone by the wayside. I can only hope that if Ten and Riku start dating, that it opens new channels for exploring the Rei/Riku dynamic and history. Otherwise, it's a Chekov's gun that never fires. That's not okay. So here's hoping it's coming up in future volumes.

I continue to really like the art, it's very contemporary shoujo but thankfully not cutesy. More often than not, the characters are realistically depicted aside from a few funny moments. I still have trouble telling Chiaki and Riku apart because their hair colors change based on the lighting, and otherwise they basically look indistinguishable to me. I can barely even tell them apart on the cover even with different colored hair (granted, I do have problems with people's faces even IRL).

So I liked this volume on its own, but with caveats: 1) I wish Chiaki had a personality again, 2) where is Rei and those two subplots? and 3) can someone just put name tags on the two leads for heaven's sake (kidding). It's an imperfect volume, but cute, and if the writing cleans up points 1 and 2 in future volumes, then I'll be satisfied. On it's own, volume 6 was an enjoyable 7/10. But I still want more from this series. I don't feel like it's hit its emotional core yet.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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