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Manga of the Month: High School Debut 13 – Kazune Kawahara

Synopsis: Yoh’s graduation means it’s time for this quirky couple to make commitments or part ways. Haruna struggles with her selfish desire for Yoh to stay local, or supporting him in his future studies that take him to Tokyo. Yoh realizes what it will mean to leave Haruna behind when she becomes the target of another boy’s interest, and waffles with this important decision as well. In the meantime, Haruna meets Yoh’s mom and leaves a lasting impression. Haruna’s special graduation gift to Yoh is also very memorable, and Yoh feels strongly enough to respond. The volume concludes on a bittersweet moment, then comes full circle with a scene that will have readers in stitches.

Review: High School Debut has been a joyful ride, and volume 13 does not disappoint as the series comes to a close. Haruna’s boisterous, outgoing personality continues to compliment Yoh’s quiet, reserved one. The couple’s strong emotions for one another surface when they realize that their school days together will shortly come to an end. At first, Haruna begs Yoh not to leave, knowing the separation will be sad and painful. When Yoh decides he’d rather stay with Haruna than leave her behind, she quickly realizes her error and encourages him to pursue his dreams for the future. Her strong resolve to support Yoh in his decision to attend college in Tokyo is difficult, but her enthusiasm and determination, so characteristic of Haruna, eventually put the couple’s difficult decisions to rest.

Yoh shows some stronger emotions in this final volume when his feelings for Haruna are tested. Not wanting to leave Haruna behind, Yoh worries what may happen to her once he leaves. He gets a reality check when Haruna gets hit on while the gang is attending a skiing trip. We finally get some actual jealousy from him, and see his uncertainty of his hold over Haruna once he is gone. His emotional response to Haruna’s graduation gift is very touching. Although mostly reserved, in this volume Yoh shows some passionate responses to Haruna’s love for him that are tell-tale signs that he returns her feelings just as strongly.

Though there are many memorable scenes in this volume, my favorite has got to be the concluding one. I don’t want to provide spoilers, so you’ll have to check it out yourself. Kawahara does a fine job of bringing the plot full circle and providing a comical moment for what could have been a bittersweet ending. The artwork in this volume is as nicely paneled as always. Moving between a realistic style or more abstract forms, the main characters’ actions play out in the right tone of comedy or seriousness. The toning is over the top in places, but not distracting and still fitting into what is typical for a shojo manga.

Of all the shojo manga I’ve read in the past couple of years, High School Debut is one of my favorite series to date. The series is full of comical as well as sentimental moments, and Haruna and Yoh’s relationship is based on friendship and mutual respect. Volume 13 is a well thought out ending to the series and leaves readers satisfied that Haruna and Yoh will still be together far into the future. If you haven’t delved into this series yet, I highly recommend you pick up volume 1.

Romance Rating: Cuddly – passionate kisses leave this series very teen appropriate.

Media Status: High School Debut Volumes 1-13 are available from Viz Media.

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Laura

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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