Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 1
I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster UK in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 1 by Karuho Shiina
Series: Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You #1
Published by VIZ Media LLC on August 4th 2009
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Simon & Schuster UK
Buy from: Amazon • Book Depository • Comixology • Wordery
Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With striking similarities to a haunting movie character--jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor--she's mistakenly called Sadako by those around her. But behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Too shy to fit in, all she wants to do is make some friends. But when the most popular boy in class befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too!
This review was previously published on my now-offline book blog, On The Nightstand. I republish it here for posterity, and also so others can discover ‘new’ books.
Stop me if you have heard this before: shy, outcast girl dreams of being liked, only to find that the only person in their school that realises how wonderful she is just happens to be the most popular guy there. It’s a set-up that has been used so many times that, like many other reused concepts, can very easily become trite, or lost in a sea of similar works. But there are stories out that that despite having a reused premise, are so well done that they shine in amongst the common rabble.
So what makes Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You one of these shining ones? Well, for starters, it is incredibly honest – that really is the word that comes to mind here. This is not a story about wanting popularity or friendship to come through changing oneself – becoming beautiful or like everyone else – this is a story about wanting to be liked for the good that is already inside of you. And Kuronuma is most definitely good, as despite people being convinced she can see/summon ghosts (and other scary things), she does what she can to make things better for those around her; unfortunately, she is just terminally shy.
It would be very easy for an author/mangaka to misstep with a character so devastatingly shy and awkward, but not here. As someone who (unfortunately) was very similar and experienced some familiar things, I will say that Kuronuma, her shyness and her mannerisms ring very true to me, and on a very personal level. She may struggle with a lot of things, but by golly does she make an effort to make things better and it’s very easy to find yourself wanting everything to work out okay as quickly as possible.
But then again you don’t, as her interactions with Kazehaya are a quiet, subtle joy to watch. Awkward and sweet, these moments are handled with the utmost care; in one of the mangaka’s notes, Karuho Shiina mentions that while she normally looks upon her characters as children, here they are like grandchildren, and that care and attention really shows in here. Each expression is careful yet powerful – as they say, pictures say a thousand words, and here a single half-smile means volumes.
While Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, when boiled down to a very basic concept, is something that has been told many times over, the way it is told here – with wonderful characters, interactions and art – is a very strong reminder of why we love such stories, especially when done so well.