Title: So Cute It Hurts Vol. 8
Author: Go Ikeyamada
Publisher: VIZ Media
Genre: Shojo, Romance
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Chiharu’s attempts to manipulate Megumu and ruin her relationship fail miserably. The two lovebirds get even closer to each other. Meanwhile, Mitsuru who is now obsessed with protecting Azusa from stalkers discovers the fashion model isn’t what she seems. After coming across a tasteless bento in the garbage that was clearly intended for him, he realizes her potential as a friend. Can Azusa confess her real feelings for her crossdressing body guard? Will Megumu figure out why Aoi’s relationship with Chiharu went sour?
Volume 8 of So Cute it Hurts picks up right where we left off in volume 7 with Uesugi tending to Megumu after she jumped into the river to retrieve the hair clip he never threw in. He sent Aoi a picture of her sleeping and that threw Aoi in a panic, causing him to go out and search for her. Megumu wakes up and after a bit of back and forth, Uesugi lets her go home, but that’s after he contemplates the rape route with her. Uesugi figured that if he were to make Megumu his, it would cause Aoi to hate him and, thus, cause Aoi to fight him. After Megumu leaves, she calls Aoi from a pay phone and the two are reunited. Without even thinking, Aoi holds her in his arms until he faints.
After two volumes where the main focus was Aoi/Uesugi/Megumu, we finally get some more development on the Mitsuru/Tokugawa front and… get this.. WE EVEN GET A SHINO SIGHTING!! Tokugawa made Mitsuru lunch and wants to give it to him as a token of her appreciation for being her bodyguard. When Tokuzawa goes to deliver the lunch, he witnesses Shino giving Mitsusu (in cross dress) a melon-pan for lunch. Mitsuru later discovers the discarded bento she made for him. During a photo shoot, the stalker shows up and Mitsuru gets injured protecting Tokuzawa. This hurts her a lot and causes her to fire him… that is until six stalkers show up at once and Mitsuru comes to the rescue. It is here that Tokuzawa finally breaks and confesses her love to him, but we don’t end up getting an answer.
So Cute it Hurts volume eight ends back up with Megumu returning to school and Uesugi approaching her and Aoi. Uesugi claims that he will make Megumu his. Okay, so we got a LOT of development on the story side and a little on the character side, but despite the ending to the volume, I still cannot take Uesugi seriously as the big bad antagonist here. Uesugi already stated that this was a plan to get Aoi to fight him so he’s, obviously, stating this out loud in front of Aoi for that purpose alone. There really is no other reason for him to do that so since all of this is premeditated and, clearly, an act… it doesn’t really make him come off as threatening. The only thing that could really save this plot is if Uesugi decided to drop the act and do this seriously. THAT would be down-right creepy and worthy of main antagonist status. Otherwise, to the reader, he just seems like an empty threat.
I’m so happy we got to see best girl (not named Rem from Re:Zero) return, but I feel her story was really rushed. They mentioned how she disappeared and the only explanation given was “oh, I guess she’s still dating Ishida.” Mitsuru never questioned her about anything and the two were just chatting like she had never left. That kind of struck me kind of oddly, but it’s good to see that there is still some resemblance of love there between them. I’m still holding out hope, but with the developments between Mitsuru and Tokugawa, that hope is fading out quickly.
Since Josh summarized the story, I’m going to just give you my analysis. I thought we could have lived without Chiharu, Aoi, and Megumu in this volume because of the development with Azusa. Yes, Megumu and Aoi get closer together and even spend a great deal of time in physical contact with each other – but this could have been saved for another volume. I feel like a lot of side story development was crammed in. Unfortunately this made me feel like the story was a bit rushed when I could have enjoyed it more. I’m not so sure I’m liking the triangle between Chiharu, Aoi, and Megumu. So far the author has done nothing to convince me that Chiharu is a bad guy. It seems like he’s just a villain character who was thrown in to reveal why Aoi can’t touch girls. I’m at a point where I think Chiharu is romantically interested in Aoi, which may not even be the case.
Aoi, Uesugi, Meguru, Mitsuru and Shino didn’t really develop all that much. Their stories all progressed and took some big steps, but their characters remained the same. The only thing Aoi did different was that he physically touched Meguru without putting much thought into it which could be a sign that his fear of touching girls could be lessening. Granted he still fainted in the end, but it’s a small step towards victory. We still don’t know anything about Aoi’s secret and after the last volume, I felt we were getting very close to finding out, but this volume squashed all those feelings. It seems that Ikeyamada was ready to let the big secret out and then decided to pull it back at the last possible moment. I guess we’ll see in volume 9, but I have feeling it will get drawn out.
Tokugawa got the most development here as her tsundere shell finally cracked and her true feelings came pouring out. It all happened when Mitsuru protected her from the stalkers and got injured. Seeing Mitsuru hurt, at first, caused her to want to distance herself as much as possible, but when she saw that Mitsuru was still willing to protect her despite her being cold to him, it finally caused her to break. We didn’t get Mitsuru’s answer to her confession yet, but I have a feeling he may actually accept her due to the fact that it was mentioned earlier in the volume that he was starting to like her for those mean nuances. This will just continue to shatter my Mitsuru x Shino ship and that makes me sad.
Josh is right that there was little development to be had here with the individual characters. Azusa finally cracks and reveals her nicer side but she does it in such a way that it’s still difficult to like her. She’s been an annoying character since the beginning of the series and quite frankly, I think she’ll stay annoying. I do not want her hooking up with Mitsuru although that now seems to be the obvious path. I’m not even sure if we can call her transformation ‘development’ because I think it was predictable. She’s a predictable character following a very foreseeable path. I’ll be surprised if Ikeyamada pulls a turn and ends up pairing Mitsuru with Shino somehow.
While Aoi and Megumu didn’t develop individually, that doesn’t exclude them from any growth in this volume. As a unit they developed into a more mature relationship. What was once a cutesy school romance is now more serious as Aoi forgets for a brief moment that he can’t touch girls. Megumu predictably savors the moment for as long as she can. I imagine as the series progresses we will see more physical contact between the two, along with the big reveal about his secret. For now, I’m going to remain frustrated because this is a cute series that is starting to irritate me because I’m not getting what I want out of it. What do I want? I want less Azusa and less Chiharu. Can we just put them both in a crate and ship them off somewhere?
I loved the progression in this volume. All of the characters got enough time and their stories moved on in some pretty big steps. The re-introduction of Shino seemed like a moot point as I would have thought that Ikeyamada would do something grander for her return, but that was not the case. Even though she felt like a moot point, she could be a pivotal plot piece in the next volume so I guess we’ll have to wait and see just how important her return really is. This is still a very solid entry in the series and it makes me want to see volume 9 as soon as possible just to see where these stories end up going!
I really thought this could have been broken into two volumes. Azusa’s development could have been a bit less predictable and less annoying. Then again, I’m not sure if that is possible because she is downright dislikable all around. She’s the typical school bully who has a soft center and a hard shell. Nobody likes people like that.
The development between Aoi and Megumu could have been separated out of this volume entirely. I say that because it seems like Ikeyamada hasn’t committed yet to a specific reveal that untangles Aoi’s past. As a reader, I’m frustrated with having to wait. Chiharu seems to be the key to unlocking the door, but she just hasn’t used him yet. Instead we get an author who is dragging out a character that we’re supposed to dislike, but how can you when you’re not entirely convinced he’s a bad guy?
The truth awaits us (hopefully) in volume 9.
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media