From the stack: Kimi ni Todoke

This week’s ComicList is kind of lean, so I’ll focus on one particular release. It’s Karuho Shiina’s Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Viz), and it’s hilarious and delightful.

kiminitodokeYou remember that girl who crawled out of the well in The Ring, right? Sawako Kuronuma bears an uncanny resemblance to that creepy character, and the coincidence hasn’t escaped her classmates’ notice. Sawako is a sweet, optimistic girl, but her spooky, slump-shouldered bearing is completely at odds with what’s inside. Remember that bit in Addams Family Values when Wednesday tried to smile? It’s like that, except that Sawako is really trying to be genial.

As high-school students are a cowardly and superstitious lot, rumors fly about Sawako. They think she communes with ghosts and can curse those around her. Even the teachers are wary of her. Hell, even puppies get skittish in her presence. It probably doesn’t help that the kanji that constitute her family name also translate into “black swamp.”

So Sawako takes it upon herself to try and clear up what she believes to be simple misunderstandings. She meets with limited success until Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, starts treating her with the same cheerful courtesy he extends to everyone. The tide begins to turn for Sawako, and she starts making other friends. And while she still looks and acts like she crawled out of a well, she’s sparkling with happiness on the inside.

It’s that disconnect – Sawako’s frightening mien wrapped around the open heart of a true shôjo princess – that makes the book so funny and endearing. Also delightful is the fact that Sawako never once entertains the notion of changing her appearance; she just wants to introduce her classmates to the girl on the inside. Shiina has a real gift for constructing scenarios that allow you can to root for Sawako and still giggle at the ways her efforts can backfire. Shiina’s illustrations hit all the right notes, from funny-creepy to sparkly-sweet, sometimes in the same panel.

Kimi ni Todoke is off to a wonderful start. It’s a great look at an offbeat kid trying to find happiness on her terms. Sawako is undeniably naïve, but she’s naïve in the best possible way. She believes the best of people, that they’ll accept truth and overlook appearance. And Shiina lets her be right often enough to balance out the laughs that come from the moments when Sawako is wrong.

(This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.)

10 Responses to From the stack: Kimi ni Todoke

  1. [...] it is, Plain as Daylight) Alex Hoffman on vol. 1 of Jack Frost (Comics Village) David Welsh on vol. 1 of Kimi ni Todoke (Precocious Curmudgeon) Lori Henderson on vol. 31 of Naruto (Manga Xanadu) Holly Ellingwood on vol. [...]

  2. [...] [Review] Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You Vol. 1 Link: David Welsh [...]

  3. [...] Elsewhere, David Welsh declares Kimi ni Todoke “is off to a wonderful start. It’s a great look at an offbeat kid [...]

  4. [...] not sure why this book is getting so much praise. They seem to applaud Sawako’s hard work and cheerful determination to keep trying, but I [...]

  5. kagome89 says:

    me mandem um link do volume 5 pra frente do manga kimi ni todoke por favor…estou desesperada procurando

  6. kagome89 says:

    forgive me I’m brazilian, so my comment was written in portuguese, I just said that I wanted the volume 5 of kimi ni todoke manga, I mean the link.please, if someone knows, tell me where can I find the volumes to download

    thanks

  7. davidpwelsh says:

    No apologies are necessary, but I don’t really spend any time at sites that pirate copyright-protected material, and here’s an excellent post on the subject: http://manga.jadedragononline.com/?p=1924

  8. [...] at Manga Life David Welsh at Precocious Curmudgeon Laura at Heart of Manga Julie at Manga Maniac Cafe Johanna at Comics Worth [...]

  9. [...] second volume of Karuho Shiina’s Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Viz) is as good as the first but in a somewhat different way. I could have been perfectly happy to read several volumes that [...]

  10. [...] girl with a sparkly personality is a must for serious shojo fans. The always-reliable David Welsh praises the book for its humor and generosity towards its principle character: It’s that [...]

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