Kare Kano 7 by Masami Tsuda: B

From the back cover:
The second semester has begun and everyone’s busy with tests, practices, and activities. It’s time to prepare for the culture festival and Yukino has been asked to perform in a futuristic sci-fi play. There’s instant drama when Tonami, a transfer student and old friend of Soichiro, comes back on the scene after three years. Tempers flare and competitive natures run wild.

This volume is comprised mostly of planning for the play that Yukino and friends are going to be performing at the cultural festival. While not the most riveting fare, this stuff is pretty interesting, because it shows Yukino being great at organization and getting various administrative tasks accomplished. I’m dismayed by how infantalized Tsubasa is in these segments, though.

Initially, there isn’t much fallout from what happened at the end of the previous volume, except one question from Arima to make sure that he didn’t hurt Yukino in any way. Most of the rest of the time, he hangs around looking dejected while she chats with other guy friends of hers. One of these guys is new character Tonami, who has a grudge against one of Yukino’s friends. I’m meh about this story—Yukino’s friend (Tsubaki) is largely unsympathetic now and completely so in the flashbacks—but Tonami is kind of amusing, particularly when he wonders what Arima (his idol back in junior high) is doing going out with such a strange girl. And, okay, the smooch in the tree was sweet.

Right at the end, things get cooler, with Hideaki warning Tonami to keep his distance from Yukino, because Arima is possessive and has a temper. This leads into another visit from Arima’s nightmare self and a genuinely creepy final scene where he encounters Tonami in a darkened corridor and gives him a super evil look. And Yukino has absolutely no idea that all of this darkness is lurking within him.

And yeah, okay, the story could totally get taken over by Arima’s angst, but I still like seeing him be all freaky. It’s certainly the most interesting thing going on in the series currently.

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