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Love at Fourteen, Vol. 5 Paperback – February 23, 2016
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About the Author
Fuka Mizutani is the manga artist behind the bittersweet manga series, Love at Fourteen.
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The fifth volume of Love at Fourteen covers over two main arcs and a lot of side stories. The first arc is about how Kazuki struggles with his poor math performance and maintaining his mature persona in class. It's something that not even Kanata knows about, so Kazuki has to figure out how to hide it from her as well. This results in him trying to get help from Shiki, his love rival for Kanata, of all people. But Shiki being Shiki tries to manipulate the situation and creates her own devious plans to break Kazuki and Kanata up. It is an excellent story, and the ending is extremely satisfying.
The second arc is the class's school trip to Kyoto, which is a decent story. The Kyoto trip is essentially an excuse for the author to introduce a new character, Eriko Eto, the bossy class representative and put the readers through a mystery of figuring out who she's in love with. Don't worry, the author reveals who it is in this volume, and thankfully, there is a well written conclusion given for the couple. The volume also touches on Ichinose and the bus lady as well as the upperclassmen Utsumi and Doi too, so don't worry about them being left out. The BEST part of the arc by far is Nagai and Hinohara's chapter at the end. It is considered as one of the best moments, if not the best moment of Love at Fourteen and brings a lot of emotional depth to the characters.
The most impressive part of the volume for me is Fuka Mizutani's work over Kanata's expressions. You're going to see the character go from looking calm and composed, to a cute, expressive, chibified version of herself, to a mature beauty within the span of a chapter, and dang the transition is so smooth. In the past volume, I had an issue with how Kanata's reactions were coming off as slightly annoying, but thankfully, the reactions here are great and only add to the humor of the story.
One thing I will say to potential customers is that I would not buy this volume if you have not read at least the first couple of volumes of Love at Fourteen. At this point, the series relies on readers understanding who the major characters are, and a lot of the brilliant parts of the book are about the subtleties and character development. For example, Nagai is the "bad boy" of the series, but you slowly start to see how he does care about other people, and it's not until this volume that you understand that the reason Nagai is a troublemaker is that he feels constrained by others and is deeply scared that others feel that he is just an annoyance. A lot of the emotional impact depends on whether you have had the chance to form an initial impression of the character and start seeing his growth as a person throughout the previous volumes.
Yen Press, thank you again for doing a great job on Love at Fourteen. The cover is by far the best of the five volumes and has a delicious use of gold coloring. The back cover has Nagai and Hinohara in kimonos a la the Kyoto arc I described previously. Glossy pages are at the beginning of the book covering nearly all of the major players in the series. The translation is great and properly placed in the speech bubbles. All in all, everything has been executed in a way to create the best possible version of the book for readers to experience. Enjoy!!
Even though Kanata and Kazuki pretend as hard as possible to be mature in front of their classmates, sometimes they have to do that with each other, too. As we see when Kazuki is too embarrassed to admit he’s not understanding math, and has to sneak around to get tutoring.
This is adorable, really. And it leads to Kanata going out with Shiki for a day, and Kazuki hanging out with Nagai. I love these odd friendships they’ve all formed. Kazuki and Nagai are real friends, even if they don’t realize it. And I appreciate that Shiki’s crush on Kanata is acknowledged as a real thing, even if Kanata doesn’t know about it.
The class goes on a school trip, and Kanata and Kazuki are forced to help plan it, but luckily they’re in a group together. This causes a lot of fun and adorable moments, like when the two start sneaking pictures at each other. There’s a real moment of emotion, though, when Nagai goes missing and the teacher freaks out when she finally finds him. It’s rather sweet, honestly.
We meet a new character in this volume, who has a crush on a teacher, and see a little more of the pair in unrequited love with other people.
A new volume of this series is always a delight, which is good given it’s going to be a while for the next one.
[More of my reviews are available on my blog, Geeky Reading, to which there's a link on my profile.]