RKasa's avatar


  • In and around the lake
  • Joined Jan 21, 2012
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Yamada-kun had so much promise at the beginning: supernatural high school shenanigans triggered by kissing, and a mystery surrounding the "witches" and a handful of others who have these powers. There are consent issues throughout, with some plot-driven forced kisses; if you find that sort of thing bothersome, then definitely don't read this series.

Note: some spoilers ahead, though I've done my best to be vague about them.

For everyone else, this is a great high school rom-com... up until around volume 11. This is where the story transitions from the first arc to the second, and the plot gets even more convoluted, with new witches and additional mysteries. I stuck around through this arc, and the next, all the way to the end, to see what the payoff would be for main couple Yamada and Shiraishi, plus all their friends. The ending was perfectly fine, if a bit cliched, but there's also a hamfisted attempt to wave off the witch powers, which had been the entire point of this series, as nothing truly mysterious. Yes, we never find out the true origin of Suzaku High's witches, plus a new witch-driven plot point is introduced in the final chapter which just leaves one with more questions.

The pacing in Yamada-kun suffers after the first story arc as well, in part because of the complexity of the witch narrative, but also because there's so many characters to keep track of. Many of the later witches are hardly ever brought up again after their roles in the story are over, but that still leaves us with an enormous, chatty cast. A college exam prep arc that would've taken a few chapters in most other high school rom-coms is over a whole volume in length here. The timeskip ending is about three chapters instead of one. By the end, it's hard not to wonder what the point of all that filler was. Probably editorial pressure to keep the series selling, as Sean Gaffney has theorized.

The art in the series is polished at first glance, with the backgrounds in particular some of the best I've seen in rom-com shounen manga. The eyes of various characters, Shiraishi being a good example, frequently look strange when seen from a quarter-angle, and there's the occassional broken spine here and there. By the end, I wasn't a fan of the character art, but I did want to buy the assistants in charge of backgrounds a round of drinks.

This series has its moments, but shines brightest in the first third, when the search for the witches and the rivalry between the Supernatural Studies Club and the Student Council has some real meat on it. Don't expect as good of a time from the rest; the characters are still a fun bunch to read about, but the new complications thrown into the plot (memory erasure being a major one), not to mention the underwhelming revelations that follow, make for a mostly mediocre read.

5/10 story
6/10 art
6/10 characters
6/10 overall
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