Kokkuri-san, kokkuri-san, was the aquarium visit the best chapter of Love at Fourteen volume 10?
*lands on yes*
While Kanata and Kazuki are an official couple, unlike most other characters here who are in an unrequited love or in some other vague state, Kazuki’s upcoming move has them emotionally reeling. They keep up the mature act in front of their classmates and friends, but their performance can’t hide everything.
Aoi, for instance, at first is on cloud 9 when Kanata invites her for a sleepover. While she wonders if it’s a blessing from Kokkuri-san (i.e. Ouji board game), the rumor the spirit will curse those who wish for other’s unhappiness makes her realize Kanata is suppressing her feelings. Kato and his girlfriend try to come up with a way to help Kazuki, but it’s Aoi, Nagai, and Shota whom he and Kanata turn to for help.
The five of them go on a hilariously odd date-non-date-chaperoned-date-group-outing adventure. Kanata and Kazuki don’t put on airs like they normally do, which takes the other three aback. Also, Nagai gets a special shout-out for not only showing up to help out but that also Kazuki and Kanata are also supposed to have some sort of alone time. Well, as much alone time as two people can have when their friends are watching over them from several yards away. Then there’s the group running interference and then calling time-out when they realize Kazuki and Kanata are acting too different — because the pair is stressing out over making the most of the time they have. And the whole day (and chapter) ends on a romantic note.
For the rest of the volume, the couple talks about their future and their relationship, musing about all the things fourteen-year-olds can and cannot do. The crux of this manga has always been that Kazuki and Kanata are not as mature as they pretend to be, but I applaud them for making a mature decision at the end of the volume. I won’t be surprised if their relationship ends up going a step (or two) further, but at least Love at Fourteen shows this isn’t something to be done on a whim or just because they can.
A few of their classmates deal with love at their age in their own way like trying to dress like their crush’s crush or determine what exactly they like about their childish boyfriend, but it’s still the student x adult relationships that get more focus, Aoi and Haijima in particular. Aoi runs to the nurse’s office to talk about her good news, but after feeling a bit selfish, she finds herself dragging her feet. When she see Hinohara heading to Haijima’s office, Aoi retreats completely. It’s clear to readers Haijima is on Aoi’s mind more and more, and she’s beginning to realize that herself. At this point, it’s going to be a tight race to see which adult confesses/responds to their counterpart first. Haijima thinks Aoi’s cute, Hinohara can barely contain her laughter/excitement when Nagai gives her a lipstick to replace a broken one, and Lady mentally refers to Shota as a man after he boldly addresses her by her personal name without honorifics.
Still, while I’ve accepted those couples and have even gotten attached to them in my own way, it’s when those teens act like teens or are interested in other teens that make this a terrific volume.