Boys Over Flowers 2 by Yoko Kamio: A

From the back cover:
Tsukushi continues to fight back against the F4 and protect an old friend who has also been given the infamous “red tag.” Rui’s old flame returns from France. Can Tsukushi really compete with this “perfect girl”? Meanwhile, Tsukushi’s resistance to the F4 seems like it might actually work!

I really love this series. Sure, it’s over the top sometimes, with the pervasive bullying and the situations Tsukushi gets thrust into (the latest a deck party on a yacht during which she accidentally bumps into/smooches Doumyouji), but that doesn’t keep it from being awesome. My two favorite chapters are those in which Doumyouji has tried to straighten his hair (because Tsukushi once said she hated his hairstyle). I know he’s a punk, but I just find this endearing somehow.

Two new characters are introduced this volume: Shizuka, Rui’s oh-so-perfect love interest, and Kazuya, a “nouveau riche” boy who was once a classmate of Tsukushi’s. The camaraderie between Tsukushi and Kazuya provokes Doumyouji’s jealousy, and the two childhood friends spend much of the volume being chased and pelted with garbage. The relationship between Shizuka and Rui is also interesting, as she clearly realizes he’s in love with her and, though she seems to genuinely be a nice person, keeps sending him mixed messages about how she feels in return.

Tsukushi continues to be strong, and the chemistry she and Doumyouji share is palpable. One still completely buys why she’d develop feelings for Rui, though. Love triangles aren’t a new thing, particularly involving a choice between one elegant and one hot-headed boy, but somehow Kamio manages to do fresh and energetic things with these ingredients. This is deservedly a shoujo classic.

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