Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You 3 by Karuho Shiina: A

From the back cover:
Sadako finally becomes friends with her classmates, instead of scaring them off. Even Kurumi, the cutest girl in school, wants to be her friend. But will this new friendship make Sadako realize that her feelings for Kazehaya might be more than just friendly?

I was bowled over by the surfeit of cute in this volume of Kimi ni Todoke. Let us count the ways!

1. Sawako has begun doing things after school with Yano and Yoshida, and is absolutely thrilled. Her parents are also adorably excited for her.

2. Sawako is beginning to realize that Kazehaya is a boy, and that she likes him in a way that is different from how she likes her other new friends. This results in her being somewhat flustered in his presence, which leads to him being flustered right back. Seriously, when these two are together, they just glow, and the art and pacing really make these moments special.

3. Yano and Yoshida are extremely awesome, and nudge Sawako into doing things like calling Kazehaya on the phone or dropping the -kun when she addresses him. Her reactions are cute, but Kazehaya’s are especially telling. Yano and Yoshida are kind of evil in how much they tease him, but their machinations result in a story that shows these characters’ feelings for each other rather than simply telling us about them.

4. Sawako’s friends have to inform her that she has earned the right to call them by their first names, because she’d never presume to do so otherwise. In fact, there’s a lot of emphasis on honorifics in this volume, making it a great candidate to prove why it’s necessary to retain them in translations.

I continue to love that friendship is so important to Sawako. Though she’s finally beginning to realize her romantic feelings for Kazehaya, her friends play a big part in that, encouraging her to reach out to him a little more and putting the two of them in situations where they can interact. Yano and Yoshida are at least tied with Hanajima and Uotani from Fruits Basket in the category of Best Best Friends.

A rival for Kazehaya’s affections—Kurumi, a girl he knew in junior high—also appears in this volume. I like that she’s not as over-the-top villainous as some rivals have been, but is still somewhat scheming. Happily, Sawako balks at Kurumi’s request to help her get together with Kazehaya; it’s evident that Kurumi thought Sawako was so self-effacing she’d just bend over backwards to accommodate her new friend’s request. It’s clear, too, that Kurumi knows exactly how Kazehaya feels about Sawako, thanks to some more excellent nonverbal storytelling.

In the end, this volume solidly establishes Kimi ni Todoke as one of my current shoujo favorites. I liked the first two volumes a lot, but now that Sawako and Kazehaya are hesitantly moving closer to a relationship, it has escalated to a new level of greatness.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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