This chapter reminded me why Paradise Kiss is a great series for high schoolers, and no one else. After her close call with George, Yukari meets back up with Miwako, who’s been crying and is clearly upset.
Something struck me about Paradise Kiss here, which makes it stand out from other drama/romance manga. The “Ordinary World” portion of the story is barely there.
In a lot of manga, particularly shojo manga, the first chapter is normally dedicated to showing the protagonist’s every day life before her world is turned upside down by a handsome stranger. This usually includes friends, family, and school life, if she has one. But Paradise Kiss doesn’t give us that introduction. It starts with Yukari running into Arashi and Isabella by chance, and goes from there. We don’t really see what her life was like before this.
Then again, we don’t really need to. At the start of the manga, she doesn’t have much personality, but develops as a character over time, with the help of her colorful new friends. Her backstory unfolds throughout the story, and here it focuses on her crush on Tokumori. Later books will also explore Yukari’s relationship with her demanding mother, and the rest of the characters’ pasts as well.
Here we learn that Yukari is a good friend, even if the only person in her “ordinary world” we’ve seen her interact with is Tokumori. When she sees that Miwako’s been crying, she wants Miwako to tell her about what happened, even if it’s something that Yukari won’t like to hear.
As Miwako explains the love triangle between her, Tokumori, and Arashi, the only thing I wrote in my notes was, “so high school”.
I don’t think that teenagers are too young to fall in love and have deep and meaningful relationships, or that relationship drama magically ends when you graduate. What tipped the “so high school” balance for me wasn’t just the drama, but Miwako’s idealization of Arashi and and Yukari’s naive advice to her.
For some context: when Miwako lived close to both Arashi and Tokumori, she fell for both of them, and they fell for her. Arashi demanded that she choose between the two. After Miwako chose Arashi, he said that he never wanted her to see Tokumori again. Arashi’s already shown himself to be rude and brash, and we can add “jealous” and “possessive” to his list of negative traits. These are traits that Miwako could have romanticized. He’s jealous because he cares so much about her, while ignoring the other implications of his jealousy.
Yukari doesn’t help much when it’s her turn to give advice. She admits that she’s probably the worst person to give Miwako advice on her love life, and when she does, it sounds like…well, it sounds like it’s ripped straight of a shojo manga.
In this situation, it’s the blind leading the blind, and with no other experience to build on, they both have to let their emotions be the guide.
And that is why this is “so high school”.