By Miki Yoshikawa
Yoshikawa granted my wish! This week we have a self-contained chapter focused on Miyabi exploiting crush power for comedic effect. Miyabi and Tsubaki haven’t had much to do in the series recently, so it’s nice to get a chapter devoted to the two of them, though Tsubaki still plays more of a supporting role here than sharing the focus. Still, this is the most effective use of him as comedic relief in a long time. Despite some jokes teasing that he may have a crush on Miyabi, he’s mostly here to support her endeavors, and act as a voice of reason for when when she starts getting a little out of control. In that respect, he sort of re-treads Tamaki’s role back when he was helping Odagiri in her attempts to seduce Yamada. But hey, at least he’s given something to do for once, and while his character doesn’t really develop here, his characterization is still used to it’s fullest effect.
But Miyabi is the star of this chapter, and her character development is actually rather substantial. Miyabi’s desire for a boyfriend is really more of a metaphor for her deeper desire to satisfy a lacking sense of fulfillment while she still has a year of high school left. The idea that she forgot how to love is a cover that allows her to finally enjoy something, to find something to be passionate about again. The sensation of her heart fluttering, the excitement and adrenaline of emotions she feels, gives her a sense of emotional fulfilment that she’s lacking. It’s not that she necessarily wants to love somebody, but she’s in love with being in love, and she’s hoping through this state of infatuation that she can understand what makes her tick and how she thinks. She wants to know her self better, to figure out who she before she is thrown into adulthood.
It’s a very subtle exploration of her character, and the way Yoshikawa writes and draws her in this chapter is what really sells the arc. Miyabi is much smarter than her airhead, and excitable personality makes her seem on the surface, and dialogue like, “okay! This is how I get the love brain,” and, “I think I’ll be onto something,” betray deeper motivations she’s hiding under an air of silliness. To show the range of her emotions under the influence of the charm power, Yoshikawa draws a wide array of unique and funny facial expressions: from worry, to joy, to shock, and anger, and all of these are a riot. But the most telling and revealing of character is her reaction to Shiraishi’s statement that she’s an essential part of the Supernatural Studies club. It’s a simply drawn, subtle expression, one of speechless realization, as she finally understands where she truly belongs, and what she truly loves. Her decision to “go steady” with the Supernatural Studies Club is her realization that that’s where she’s truly happiest. It’s what gives her a sense of purpose, and friends who love and care about her. It gives her an identity, and a sense of belonging. In a way, both Miyabi and the reader are reminded that she is an essential part of the main group, and despite her being out of the spotlight for so long, she an irreplaceable part of what makes the club, and the series, what it is.
I’m not sure if Yoshikawa intended this chapter as a meta-commentary, but it sure works as one. It was a welcome change to have an episodic chapter not necessarily related to the main story, one that focused on a character who hasn’t been given much to do in a while, and give her some long overdue character development. In the grand scheme of things, one might look at this chapter as a bit of filler in between arcs. Still, small-scale character-focused, comedy chapters like this have been missing from the series for quite some time, and are a nice change of pace from the plot-centric arcs that have comprised the series recently. Here’s hoping we get a few more of these before we head into the next major arc.