Kare Kano 9 by Masami Tsuda: B

From the back cover:
The culture festival begins with a bang—Kazuma’s band Yin & Yang rocks the house, and the curtain finally opens on Aya’s play! But not everybody’s mind is on songs and spotlights. Poor Tonami hopelessly pines away over the elusive Tsubaki, who is the kind of woman who loves to be free—even if it means being alone.

I’m so glad we got to see the entirety of the play! It takes up most of the volume, but winds up having several themes that resonate with Arima and his current crisis, like a lead who’s trying to cover up his imperfections and tells another character, “If you knew the real me, I’m sure even you would hate me.”

The experience of accomplishing something with her friends energizes Yukino and she resolves to start trying other various things and states that she’s no longer going to obsess about being first in the class. Arima sees this as her leaving behind for good the little world that only they two shared. As her voiceover recalls that she truly regrets not hearing his call for help, creepy Arima reappears for the final panel.

Unfortunately, Tsuda-sensei now says that before we get to the meat of the “Arima arc,” we’re going to be treated to some stories featuring the other characters first. Whee.

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