Cat Street 2 (Japanese) by Yoko Kamio: B+

From the back cover:
Ever since she entered the school El Liston, Keito’s life has begun to change. Recovering from social withdrawal, she has made friends for the first time in seven years. There’s Rei, a formerly famous soccer player; Kouichi, a genius with an IQ of 200; and Momiji, a Gothic Lolita. As she slowly starts building new relationships with people, she begins to develop a little passion, and then… ?!

I’d praised Cat Street last time because the focus was not on romance, and just as I was thinking, “Well, maybe a little would be good,” Keito realized that she had feelings for her childhood friend, Taiyou. How it played out was quite different from other shoujo I’ve read.

Taiyou is an interesting character. Rather than allow Keito’s friend Rei, who used to be a phenomenal soccer player, to wallow in his past failures, he keeps engaging him on the topic and eventually helps him return to the sport he loves. Keito realizes he did the same with her while she was a shut-in, visiting her house frequently to try to get her to come back to school. So, essentially, she begins to like him because he is a good person, not because he is hot.

Even better, all of Keito’s new friends begin to support her in her efforts to get together with Taiyou. This isn’t limited to Momiji, the girl; the boys who would also be after Keito in most other series are also encouraging and helping her in her efforts. Alas, it turns out Taiyou has recently begun dating one of his classmates. In a completely awesome example of showing not telling, a weeping Keito encounters this girl, Hirano-san, who proves how like Taiyou she is by refusing to leave Keito alone, comforting her, and even crying on her behalf. I love that the romantic rival is not some evil wench, but also a thoroughly nice and good person.

Less successful is a subplot in which Keito’s old theatrical rival engages the help of a student studying cosmetology at El Liston to get a photograph of Keito, which he accomplishes by giving her a makeover and claiming he wants to save images of his work. Pretty smooth. It’s sad, though, that the nudging he gave Keito about returning to the acting world seems only to’ve been so the rival could face her in that realm once more and achieve a proper victory over her.

Cat Street is a very enjoyable series so far; I love that the heroine has a network of supportive friends. I guess it’s inevitable that Keito will return to the world of acting, but I hope the story won’t drift into silly confrontations with overly-devious foes.

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