High School Debut 12 by Kazune Kawahara: B

hsd12It’s Yoh’s birthday and Haruna has arranged for them to take an overnight trip together. Originally ignorant of the implications but now armed with information about what boys typically expect in such situations, she has endeavored to prepare herself as much as possible but suffers second thoughts as the big moment approaches. Later, Yoh’s sister throws a hissy fit about his relationship with Haruna, Mami reveals that she betrayed Haruna in the past, and Yoh must determine what career path he’d like to pursue at university.

Under no circumstances could a volume of High School Debut ever be bad, but this one proves that some are capable of not being as good as the rest. The first disappointment comes when Yoh and Haruna’s night alone together is interrupted by one of my least favorite plot devices, which I shall dub “Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here!” Next, Yoh’s sister, Asami, has never been a favorite character of mine, and I didn’t enjoy reading about her incredibly bratty behavior (that she expects others to forgive), particularly when the issues she brings up were theoretically settled some time ago.

The bright spot in the volume is the chapter focusing on Mami, Haruna’s long-time best friend. I really enjoyed this celebration of their friendship, even though Haruna did go a little kooky when she thought Mami’s big secret was that she has feelings for Yoh. Every now and then one encounters a heroine’s best friend that one could happily read a series about—Yuki in Boys Over Flowers is one such character, and Mami is another.

The emphasis on college and careers is an unmistakable reminder that the end is nigh for this series. I hope I like the thirteenth and final volume at least a little more than this one.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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