The beginning of this wraps up the storylines that happen around Christmas time, then launches into a new story arc - Takane’s grandfather is frustrated that Takane won’t give him details about how his relationship is going with Hana. He decides he’s spoiled the kid too much, so he takes away all his stuff: freezes his accounts, sets him up in a shoebox of an apartment, gives him two cheap suits, and around $91 to live on for the month. He says Takane must climb back up to the top from the bottom to prove himself. Takane is so embarrassed by his new situation that he refuses to see Hana. But, based on the advice of her friend Okamon, Hana takes a page from Takane’s book and decides to pester him for a change.
Tsugu moved away from her small town when she was in elementary school, but now, as a high school student, her family moves back. After many years in the Osaka region (and Tsugu picking up the Osakan accent), Tsugu tries to reconnect with her group of friends from elementary school. She finds that they none of them are in the same place they were when she moved away. Tsugu has sprouted into a confident, gregarious, guitar player who tries not to let her misfortunes get her down. Yuushin, the little boy who dreamed of being a hero, has resorted to bullying others, including his former friend Sora. Sora has become ostracized and seriously thinks of ending his life because of the bullying. Tsugu feels like she is still close to Asari, but several misunderstandings and rumors spread by Asari's other friends leave Tsugu unwelcome in Asari's social circle. Tsugu tries not to let these tattered relationships get her down, and she works towards helping her friends remember their ideals they once had.
It turns out Futaba’s firework show admission to Tai-Chan worked out in the end, as the two decide to start dating. The second trimester starts, and the two have to navigate how to be boyfriend and girlfriend at school. To complicate things, Yagihara has decided she wants to be better friends with Tai-Chan. She has a reputation for stealing boyfriends, so Masumi and Futaba question the two about their budding friendship. This leads to Yagihara bearing her soul about how misinterpreted she’s been her whole life.
Adaptation of the novel by the same name. Illustrated by Celia Moscote.
19-year old Juliet has a summer internship set up with Portland author Harlow Brisbane, creator of a modern feminist handbook that Juliet finds inspiring. Just before leaving the Bronx and departing on this journey, Juliet comes out to her Puerto Rican family, to mixed success. Her mother thinks it’s all a phase, even though Juliet has been dating her current girlfriend for a year. With that goodbye plaguing her, Juliet takes off on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, of learning about the diversity of queer culture, and confronting white fragility and racism.
Toma is out of the hospital, but his older brother blackmails Tai-chan into figuring out Toma’s reasoning behind skipping college and going straight into the workforce. With Tai-Chan’s birthday coming up, Futaba and Toma shop together to find a great present. During their time together, Futaba admits that she has wanted to be like Toma - strong, athletic, admired - and Toma admits he’d rather be more like Futaba. The four attend a fireworks festival together and Tai-Chan continues to make opportunities for Futaba and Toma to be together, but Futaba explains why his efforts are no longer necessary, and she may have accidentally admitted something to Tai-Chan that she wasn’t ready to admit.
Mona is plagued by depression, anxiety, some lack of self-confidence, and many other mental health issues that so many teenagers suffer from. She calls her depression and doubts her “Matter.” To begin with, Mona's best friend moves away to Hawai'i, and she makes a new friend who has just enrolled in her school. Mona is also a violinist and loves to draw, but her Matter constantly tells her she's not talented enough. Throughout the narrative, Mona learns to cope with her Matter invading her thoughts and sabotaging her social interactions. She uses therapy, art, and writing to understand with and change her self-doubt into positivity.
Taichi has to deal with the immense guilt from Toma's broken leg. If Taichi hadn't tried to save the kitten from being run over by a car, Toma wouldn't have tried to say Taichi, and he wouldn't have an injury that completely ended his baseball season, just when the team on the cusp of qualifying for the summer tournament. Futaba tries to console Taichi and discovers just how much she cares for him. Taichi and Toma lash out at each other for the injury - Taichi claims responsibility for ruining Toma's dreams, but ultimately, the argument ends with Toma expressing that Taichi's life is more important than his dreams of becoming a professional athlete. Taichi begins to understand some of the feelings Toma has been unable to express before, and he doesn't quite know what to do about it all.
Nina Kamiyama is trying to fly under the radar and attend her high school classes. She doesn't want anyone to find out that she used to be in Pure Club, an idol group that was super popular across Japan. After a fan assaulted her, she quit the group and begun her second life. Unfortunately, someone recognizes Nina as Karen, the former leader of Pure Club, and her new life begins to unravel. This story deals a lot with trauma, assault, exploitation culture, and more.
Seki is up to his antics again, hardly ever paying attention during class and having a bag packed full of games instead of schoolwork. He tries to impress Yokoi with a magic trick, Japanese chess with a seemingly tragic, heroic story, table top golf, zombie Othello, and so much more. The class also takes a trip to a camp, where Yokoi gets a rare glimpse at her neighbor’s childhood. Back in class, the two are noticed by Goto, who desperately wants to be Yokoi’s friend, but thinks all they’re up to is sneaking kisses and loving glances during class.
Christmas time is upon them, and Hana and her friends win a raffle for a Christmas tree. All of them have a tree already so they insist Hana give it to Takane. Once it’s set up, Mizuni and Hikaruko artfully slip out, leaving Hana and Takane alone. Their solitude is quickly interrupted by Rino, a friend from Takane’s high school years who is incredulous that Hana is his arranged marriage meeting partner. Rino is in love with Takane and she grills Hana on her feelings for him. She ends up weaseling a date out of Takane, but he instead invites them both to tag along with Hana and her friends at their annual Christmas dinner. There, Hana learns a deep secret about Rino, and discovers why she is no threat to her relationship with Takane. We also meet Takane's young cousin Hiromi, who is trying to be exactly like Takane, so much so that Hana knows just how to manipulate him.
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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