High School Debut Volume 13

High School Debut Volume 13 by Kazune Kawahara

I always approach final manga volumes with mixed emotions. It is nice to see a series wrap up, but sometimes concluding volumes just peter out, without giving the reader a satisfactory ending. While some of the recent volumes of High School Debut meandered a bit, the final volume seemed much more focused. Haruna and Yoh are facing the prospect of a long distance relationship when he starts making plans to study in Tokyo for college while she’s wrapping up her final year of high school. At first she begs him not to go, but then she decides to put her selfish feelings aside and encourage him to follow his dream. It wouldn’t be High School Debut without some frantic plans and ultimately benign misunderstandings. Haruna pretends to be happy about Yoh’s departure by pasting a smile on her face that is incredibly strained. Yoh sees right through her. Their friends take the typical senior class trips, and Haruna and Yoh gradually come to terms with the changes in their lives through snowboarding and making their relationship official when Haruna has a fateful encounter with Yoh’s mom.

As a shoujo heroine, Haruna was unique because she was so open with her feelings. Yoh has always provided a counterpoint to her openness with his tendency to express himself through his actions instead of words. We can see how she’s influenced Yoh as he starts showing signs of his own insecurity at the thought of boys hitting on her when she’s gone. He puts aside low-key personality when he runs around to all of Haruna’s friends to ask them to take care of her when he’s far away. I’ll always be fond of Yoh’s character design, because it is so rare to see a male lead with weary lines underneath his eyes. The ending of the manga flashes back to the beginning in pitch-perfect way that made me close the cover with a smile on my face. High School Debut is by far one of the better high school comedy romance manga that I’ve read. Even though it might stretch across thirteen volumes, I was happy for the longish length of the story because Kawahara’s characters are so individualistic and idiosyncratic.