By Miki Yoshikawa
Contrary to my expectations, Yamada-kun’s 200th chapter features no big revelations or theatrics. In fact, the change in location is really the only thing that particularly distinguishes this chapter from those directly preceding it. It’s a shame, then, that we don’t get to see much of Guam. Most of the chapter is inside a hotel, or in nondescript locations like a park, neither of which look distinct from the series’ usual urban environments. We do, however, get a nice two-page spread of the beach by the characters’ hotel, and it really has a sense of scale, depth, and detail that really sells the image as something beautiful and awe-inspiring. Or at least it would have if Crunchyroll didn’t screw up the layout of the pages again and split the two-page spread, weakening the impact of the scene. This really should not happen as frequently as it does, and because it’s so distracting and breaks immersion in the reading experience, it’s necessary to keep pointing out.
The plot is pretty self-contained and remarkably simple. The crux of the chapter centers on the Chairwoman’s attempts to have the group to activities together and have a good time. Since the Chairwoman has a generally stoic demeanor, it’s her actions in the chapter that betray her true intentions. First, by assigning Yamada a report he has to bring to her room that night, giving him a cause to come over there. When he doesn’t show up, she comes by his room and tells she’d be “happy if [he] came by,” trying to encourage him to visit her by indirectly inviting him and making him feel welcome.
Based on her actions, the expectation is that the Chairwoman is taking responsibility as a group leader, trying to help everyone she’s in charge of feel included. But a scene of her wistfully watching a party taking place in another room outside her window reveals otherwise. The Chairwoman wants the final school trip of her high school career to be a fun and memorable time more than anyone else. However, she’s not comfortable with expressing her emotions openly, and so has to engineer pretenses in order to get her group together to spend time with them. Which makes the chapter’s conclusion, with the Chairwoman giving a blushing, wide smile when Yamada and company come to her room with snacks and games a sweet, charming moment. It’s the first time someone else has understood what the Chairwoman really wanted, and also the first time where people have come to her to have fun and not her needing to go out of her way to get them. The smile she gives is the first distinct emotion she’s ever shown thus far in the series, and captures her happiness in a subtle but still expressive manner that says volumes about her character and feelings without it needing to be explained.
The chapter mostly rests on the relationship between Yamada and the Chairwoman. It’s telling that he’s the one she reaches out to, the one she directly invites, and the one she smiles at after seeing him come to her room. The series implies that the Chairwoman as having a crush on Yamada, but regardless of any romantic interests, he is clearly the person she wants to be around most. It’d be nice to see them develop a friendship rather than have her become another ill-fated love rival for Shiriashi, since that angle has already been done with a few characters in the series before. The prominence of the Chairwoman in these last few chapters makes it a safe bet that she’ll be an important character at least in the short term, and her characterization is ambiguous enough that her story could go in many directions.
While not momentous or game-changing, Yamada-kun celebrates it’s 200th chapter with an installment that shows the heart, humor, and characterization that makes it so remarkably endearing. It’s not the most hilarious or dramatic chapter, though it’s simply nice to see these characters interact and play off each other in everyday situations, and it speaks to the strength of the series’ cast. They certainly prove to be entertaining, even in such normal circumstances. Although it’s not the best chapter the series is capable of, it’s a nice note to commemorate this milestone, and shows confidence in the series’ vitality going forward.