From the back cover:
Different classes, college preparations, and a disapproving father all make it hard for Macharu and Haruna to be together. So when they win tickets for an overnight stay at a resort, it seems like a great chance for them to take their relationship to the next level…
Although I liked this volume of Monkey High! somewhat less than the others, it certainly has its share of positives. Macharu and Haruna, sent by their class to fetch a wedding gift for their teacher, spontaneously enter a raffle and win tickets to “Mouse World,” including an overnight stay at a resort hotel. Haruna is anxious and Macharu, who frankly admits he wants to have sex with her but is not the least bit pushy about it, realizes that the situation is troubling her and so gives the tickets to the teacher. This moment of genuine sweetness works to quell Haruna’s doubts and, when the trip won’t fit in with the newlyweds’ itinerary, it’s Haruna who now advocates going.
The resulting date is wonderfully awkward. Both are so concerned with making it a special day that every time something goes wrong, it’s a crushing blow. It’s a bit painful to read, but it’s a situation with which most people can likely sympathize. I also like how a couple chapters later, when Macharu suddenly gets gung ho about working to get into college, it’s Haruna who feels that she’s being left behind even though she’s the one with better academic prospects. She has several goals that she’s been pursuing independent of Macharu, but it’s only now that she realizes he’s going to be experiencing things without her, as well.
On the negative side… the whole resort plotline reminds me of something I just read in High School Debut and of course the two leads are interrupted (by the collapse of Haruna’s father) before they can consummate their relationship. It’s not that I’m all pro-teen sex or anything, but because they don’t go through with it, we’ll probably be in for more angst about whether they should. At least the interruption puts Macharu in contact with Haruna’s dad, who says nasty things about his lack of prospects and inspires all that hard work that has Haruna fretting.
Also, it feels like the whole volume centers on the question of closeness for the couple. How close are we? Are we less close now? It feels like we’re more close now. Oh, wait, now we’re less close again. Now we’ve had a poignant conversation and we’re close again. I still like the characters a lot, and these moments provide opportunities for Haruna to show her vulnerable side and Macharu his more mature side, but it does get a bit repetitive.