Title: So Cute It Hurts Vol. 6
Author: Go Ikeyamada
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shojo, Romance
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Volume 6 of So Cute It Hurts delivers us our first real stumble in the Megumi and Aoi romance. All is well in Megumi’s world – her friends are supportive of her, she is happy with her love life, and she has discovered she has a skill for drawing. While in the park, practicing her talent, she encounters a handsome guy around Aoi’s age. After flipping through her sketchbook, he comes across a drawing of Aoi that makes him violently angry. Who is this person and why does he hate Aoi?
Mitsuru’s love life remains in flux with the obvious confusion he has about his interactions with Azusa. She’s still an insane bully and has made no effort to express her interest in Mitsuru. When an angry stalker comes to down to harass Azusa, Mitsuru decides he can at least protect her. Can these two figure out how to talk to each other and get something going at last?
It looks like we’re finally going to get that speed bump in the Megumu/Aoi storyline. Last time Liz and I reviewed this, I felt that their story was going a bit too perfectly and I thought it was time to shake things up. However, with the way they have been building these two characters, I don’t fully understand how the addition of someone, who is clearly Aoi’s rival, is going to cause Megumu’s heart to waver. These two have built a loving relationship that is about as pure as they come and if something like this causes a rift between them, then all of that buildup would just be wasted. I can’t really see this new character, who I will offer my thoughts on in the next section, being a driving wedge between these two. Despite that, it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get treated to some drama. I think we’re going to see an info dump next volume where we will finally get to see Aoi’s past and the secret behind that eye patch.
On the flip side of things, we’ve got another slow burn-style development between Mitsuru and Tokugawa. It seems that Tokugawa has issues of her own in the form of a stalker and not one that is an admirer, either. Mitsuru ends up saving her from this attacker, but we don’t learn of his identity. This only re-affirms Tokugawa’s developing feelings for Mitsuru and in classic tsundere fashion, Tokugawa denies it and acts a bit coldly towards Mitsuru. The good news out of this whole ordeal is that Mitsuru still has Shino on his mind so there is still a glimmer of hope left that Mitsuru and Shino will end up together. I really REALLY want to ship those two! Sadly, I must admit that deep down when I saw that stalker, I actually thought to myself: “Oh good! Someone likes Tokugawa! Who cares if he’s creepy on multiple levels? He’s perfect for her, SHIP IT!”
Yes.. I just shipped Tokugawa with a mentally unstable stalker. Deal with it.
To just jump off of Josh’s last thoughts, I definitely don’t want to ship Shino and Mitsuru. I think Shino is super cute and I love her, but I also find her a bit too quiet(haha no not in that way). She is a wallflower character that can easily blend into the background. So far, all of the characters that we have been heavily engaged with are very loud and in your face. That isn’t to say they all scream and run around like Azusa. They just have very strong characteristics that are memorable. Megumu is obsessed with history. Her brother is a good fighter and sucks at school. What does Shino like? What does she do? I can’t remember. She isn’t very memorable to me, at least not yet.
Like Josh said, I really don’t understand the introduction of this new rival character. I suppose this angry dude is going to be the person who reveals why Aoi can’t touch girls and wears an eye patch. It’s pretty obvious what his purpose is. Will it be believable though as the story progresses? I am not so sure. I can’t see how a girl who has built up a strong bond and love for her boyfriend will suddenly question her commitment because of some rival showing up. Ikeyamada is going to have to do some hardcore mental gymnastics to make this work.
We didn’t get much in the way of character development this volume. Meguru and Aoi are still in love with each other, but I did like the way they were able to finally “touch” each other… even if it was only in their dreams. That could be a hidden step into getting Aoi over his phobia and it wouldn’t surprise me if, down the line, they recall this bit of comedy to make Aoi realize that he has had the ability to touch Meguru all along. Then again, I could be completely wrong. Mitsuru, on the other hand, still likes Shino, but when he came to Tokugawa’s aid, it was simply payback for when Tokugawa helped Meguru out of a situation, which I will touch up in just a moment. This only reaffirmed Mitsuru’s character as being the kind of person of not letting a good deed go unpaid. Outside of that, Meguru and Mitsuru were still the same characters from the previous volume.
We do get introduced to a new character who looks to be a major catalyst for a huge plot point. His name was hinted at in the last volume and it is unveiled to be Chiharu Uesugi. I am not really digging this character at all because he seems like a carbon copy of Aoi with one bit of difference. Chicharu seemingly has a hair trigger for his emotions. One moment he’s kind, gentle, and humble and then when he sees a drawing of Aoi, a switch is flipped and he goes full on One Punch-Man on a sketch book. Chiharu had an encounter with Meguru in the park while she was drawing a bird. When he destroyed the sketchbook, Meguru took off running and ran into Tokugawa who allowed her to share her taxi. So we know that Chiharu and Aoi have a history, but that’s all we really get for this new main character. It gave us enough to wonder about him, but I’m just not feeling any kind of uniqueness from Aoi 2.0. Hopefully his backstory will get fleshed out to set him apart from Aoi because if it’s one thing I find annoying, it’s cloned characters.
I certainly agree with everything Josh has stated so I don’t feel the need to repeat it with the same amount of detail. Mitsuru continues to show that he is a true and noble soul – making sure the favor that Azusa paid him is returned. He is definitely a white-knight character who swoops in and protects the ladies from harm. Unfortunately, this leads to the stupid crush that Azusa nurses secretly while using her feelings as an excuse to continue being a horrible character. This also explains why Mitsuru would still think about Shino, who is a lot more kind-hearted than the pig-tailed bully. I’m also not surprised that we didn’t see anymore character development with Shino – as I’ve stated before, I think she’s a wallflower. At this time it doesn’t make much sense to bring her out in the open since the focus of the series is really narrowing to Aoi, Megumu, Mitsuru, and Azusa.
I’d also like to note that I’m really feeling conflicted about the introduction of Chiharu. Yes, the author prepared us for this in the previous volume. I suspect he will just serve as a tool to unravel Aoi’s hidden past.
Josh’s Final Thoughts:
Overall, it was a decently-paced volume that introduced us to a new major character and, perhaps, a second major character in the form of Tokugawa’s stalker. Sad that we really didn’t get any more development with Shino, but it seems with the focus being on Aoi next volume, that development is going to have to wait. The possibility of a rift in Meguru and Aoi’s relationship seems tempting, but I just can’t see it being pulled off… not with the way their relationship has been built. I don’t know where they’re trying to go with Mitsuru and Tokugawa, but I hope it really goes nowhere and Tokugawa ends up with the stalker, her neighbor, a street post… I don’t care. Love anyone or anything that’s not Mitsuru and leave him for Shino! Awesome read and another great installment in the series. Love the cliffhanger and can’t wait for volume 7!
Liz’s Final Thoughts:
I felt that this was a nicely paced volume. It didn’t feel sloppy or rushed. We also got to see more of Mitsuru and Azusa, this time without the awkward and competitive battle dates. If Ikeyamada is wise, we will see another side of Azusa that makes her a more likable character. Relying on Mitsuru’s good nature isn’t enough to rationalize so much page time for an annoying character.
I’m a bit concerned about the direction that Aoi’s and Megumu’s story will take. This volume was sweet in a way that really reminds you of high school. Megumu is off trying to embrace a new talent that could possibly be a career path, but then boys and school drama ruin her groove. I’m also a bit frustrated that we have the introduction of a new character who is not much different from anyone we have already met. If Ikeyamada really wanted to show us Aoi’s deep, dark past, certainly another option was possible. Why not develop the friendship between Shino and Megumu? Wouldn’t Shino know about her brother’s past and his secrets? Or perhaps Shino could become closer friends with Mitsuru and reveal to him the truths her brother is hiding because of moral obligation to her friend. Maybe I am jumping a bit ahead and the author doesn’t plan to use Chiharu as a device to tarnish Aoi. We just have to wait and see.
This volume was provided for review by Viz Media.