Boys Over Flowers 20 by Yoko Kamio: B+

boysoverflowers20From the back cover:
Tsukushi has agreed to be Tsukasa’s girlfriend! But there’s a hitch—she’ll go out with him for only two months to see if she can truly love him. Tsukasa is off to a bad start when he ends up smacking the womanizing new boyfriend of Tsukushi’s friend, Yuki, at the end of a double date, making Tsukushi furious. Then Sojiro of the F4 helps Yuki by exacting a little revenge on her playboy boyfriend and the two wind up on a date together. Tsukushi is worried to death about Sojiro taking advantage of her good friend. The question is… who is using whom?

I had a really hard time grading this one.

The case for a B: There are some frustrating moments in this volume. Tsukushi doesn’t believe Tsukasa had a good reason for hitting Yuki’s sleazy boyfriend and lectures him about resorting to violence, only to do exactly the same when she encounters the guy herself. She does, at least, recognize that she was in the wrong. Also, her preoccupation with Yuki’s plight later on prevents her from noticing Tsukasa’s adorable awkwardness after an important development in their relationship, and in general, several promising moments fail to pay off as satisfactorily as one might wish.

The case for a B+: Enduring all of the frustrating moments makes the sweet ones all the better for being so hard-earned. I love how Tsukasa drops everything to help Tsukushi look for Yuki and how Tsukushi actively reaches out to hug him for the first time when he doubts their chances of succeeding as a couple. Later, when the two of them have been manipulated by Sojiro and Yuki to tail them on a romantic pseudo-date, there’s more good stuff, with Tsukushi earnestly asking Tsukasa to stay with her and saying, “I don’t know what I’ll do if you go.” Of course, Tsukasa is totally won over by her cuteness. Also, Tsukasa demonstrates how much he has changed by saying to Yuki, “And Yuki… find yourself someone better than this.” Tsukasa, actually kind of caring about Tsukushi’s commoner friend? Now, that’s progress!

In the end, the impact of the good scenes outweighs my frustrations, and I come down on the side of the B+. I have this feeling, though, that this sort of balance is going to be the norm until they finally, finally genuinely get together.

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