Title: Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle Vol. 3
Author: Hiromu (Story), Bobkya (Art), raemz (Characters)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: May 23, 2023
Kenta runs into Atomu Uemura who is trying to look down on him in order to elevate his own status along with his group’s. Of course, Chitose steps in to make the save and it ends up sparking a bit of a rivalry between them. I might be skipping ahead here a bit but it leads to them having a soccer showdown with Kenta on the team. The losing team has to bunny-hop around the school while chanting a children’s song. The lesson that Chitose is trying to teach Kenta here is that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose… as long as you’re having fun while playing.
Backing up a bit… the whole thing with Kenta has Chitose thinking. He realizes that if Kenta fails when he meets his old friends, then it’s the same as him failing because he took responsibility for transforming him into a somewhat popular/more confident person. This has Chitose doing some reflection and Haru picks up on that. Her club got out early so she decided to do some warm-ups. This leads to a friendly dribble competition where the loser has to answer any question that is asked. Obviously, Chitose loses so he comes clean about his issues with himself over Kenta to which he receives a bit of an earful and some advice from Haru.
This leads to Chitose and Yuuko talking in a classroom. They mention Kenta’s lack of performance during the soccer match and he overhears it. He believes that they are just making fun of him behind his back and are looking down on him just like Uemura was earlier. He storms off but after he calms down he realizes that he was in the wrong for thinking that.
The volume closes with Kenta meeting up with his old friends to use everything he was taught by Chitose to bring him down a few levels; however, their attack is strong but just when things look as if Kenta has no way out… we’ll find out next time!
The focus on the development this time around was placed on both Kenta and Chitose.
In Chitose’s case, he was questioning whether or not he was fit to give Kenta any advice in the first place. He realized that if Kenta failed, that would mean he failed, too. He then began to wonder if that failure would damage his own reputation which went against everything he had been saying to Kenta all along. He even came to the conclusion that if Kenta failed, then he would no longer be Saku Chitose. When he explained all of this to Haru, she laughed and told him that his problems were so small. It was the kick in the pants that he needed to snap himself out of it but it shows that Chitose really does consider his social status… even just a little. Even his group admitted that the past few weeks with Kenta was fun but Chitose still feels the best way to move on from this is to end things with Kenta!
While it seems extreme, if you read between the lines… this is just Chitose trying to figure things out for himself. Rather than do it through inner monologue, he’s doing it vocally to everyone around him. He’s using his own lip service as a way to talk things out with himself. It’s a pretty interesting take as it disguises it as just normal dialogue, but every time he says something, he gets a response from those around him. Those responses are being processed so he can figure this out. He’s basically using his group as a form of feedback to find the answer, relying on his friends instead of just himself. It’s subtle but I picked up on it and must say, that’s a great development method!
On the flip side, Kenta is steadily growing a backbone. While he was unsure of himself during the soccer game, thanks to some encouragement, he picked up some basic skills and started to have a little fun… even if he wasn’t all that useful. When he heard Yuuko and Chitose talking about it, it took all of that fun and sucked it out the window and left him broken…. But this was a test for his development as a character.
The old Kenta would have given up and just gone back to his room to read light novels. Instead, he looked inside himself, realized he was in the wrong, and used that strength to go forth regardless to meet up with his old friends. Even after begin shunned (or at least, that’s what he first thought), he used Chitose’s lessons to confront his friends and show off his new strength. That shows how far he has come in just three volumes. It’s not over yet but Kenta is still a great symbolic character for a lot of people and I like how much he’s growing!
I enjoyed Chitose’s inner conflict. He goes around preaching about just living high school life the way he wants and doesn’t care about how others perceive him but yet, Kenta’s failure would be a black on his own reputation which he feels guilty about. It’s a yin/yang situation that makes you question how much he truly values his social status. Even with the way the volume ended, I still question if he truly found the answer to his questions. I’m sure all of that will be revealed in the next volume as we wrap up this little Kenta Reunion plot point
Uemura tried to be a villain here but he just seemed really pathetic; however, I’m sure that was by design. He’s just the typical dumb popular jock who thinks he’s better than everyone and wants to surround himself with like-minded people and/or pretty girls. You could definitely tell he was inserted into the story to help Kenta and Chitose’s development along but they went the extra step by making Uemura and Chitose old rivals from middle school which added a bit of depth to it which was nice.
Overall, the story was pretty solid and I liked the character development. On a personal level, I didn’t care for the sports aspects of the story since I’m just not a sports guy but it fit and things like baseball and soccer seem to be an obsession in Japan so hey… if it works, use it.
I’m really interested to see how Kenta’s reunion concludes. On to volume 4!
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**This item was provided for review by Yen Press.