Boys Over Flowers 26 by Yoko Kamio: B+

boysoverflowers26From the back cover:
Tsukushi struggles to understand her feelings for Tsukasa, her on-and-off boyfriend, and he struggles to not destroy Tokyo. Will the man who came between them step aside? The meddlesome F4 try their hand at forcing Tsukushi and Tsukasa together. All the while Tsukasa’s mother’s spies are hot on their trail!

If I were to give a one-word reaction to the events of this volume, that word would be “hooray!” Tsukasa intercepts Tsukushi at a bus stop with Amon and makes another attempt at convincing her to be with him, saying, “I don’t want anyone but you. It has to be you.” While moved by his plea, Tsukushi remembers what will happen to her friends’ families if Tsukasa’s mother finds out they’re dating, and so she gets on the bus. Moments later, there’s a terrific scene where she comes running back and, honestly, I have goosebumps just typing about it!

While the fangirl in me would’ve loved a big epic declaration of mutual feeling, that would be completely out of character for these two headstrong people. Instead, awkward tension ensues. Tsukushi is unable to express herself adequately and Tsukasa worries that he has misunderstood yet again. What’s different now is that Tsukushi realizes they’re on the verge of falling into their same old pattern and actually comes out and tells Tsukasa that she wants to be with him. The catch is that she wants their relationship to remain a secret. Amon has bought them some time by telling Kaede’s minions that he and Tsukushi are dating, but the problem of her threats has yet to be resolved.

It’s truly great seeing these two together, and even small things like hugs are so hard-won that they are elevated into monumental moments. Even though they still have to face Kaede—a looming obstacle that has Tsukushi thinking that their happiness is “like standing over water, on a layer of thin ice”—at least they’ll (presumably) be doing so together and seem to understand each other at last.

This volume also picks up the friendship between Sojiro and Yuki, spawned a few volumes back when he helped her get revenge on the boyfriend that betrayed her. I really like how Kamio is handling this subplot. I’ve read a few other series where the heroine’s friends get some attention (Kare Kano and Love*Com come to mind) but only in Boys Over Flowers does it feel like a well-integrated part of the main storyline. In fact, I am downright happy to let Tsukasa and Tsukushi remain united for a while and shift the focus to fleshing out some of the supporting characters. I’d also like to see some kind of resolution to Rui’s relationship with Shizuka, who at least gets a mention here after being off the radar for quite some time.

Lastly, I must spare a paragraph to compliment the cover to this volume. While Tsukushi’s face looks a little frenzied, I love Tsukasa’s expression and the colors are gorgeous.

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