Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Jan 14th 2012
The time has come – Kurosaki is ready to admit to Teru that he's Daisy, as well as his role in her brother Soichiro's death. He has it all planned out so that maybe she won't hate him for his secrets, so naturally a third party will do their best to mess things up. That person is Akira, a mysterious young man with a dangerous aura. Who is he working for? And why does he want Kurosaki and Teru's separation so much?
So. He knows that she knows. Does she know that he knows? Yes, she knows that he knows that she knows and – oh, forget it. To make a long story short, the moment that Kyousuke Motomi has been leading up to for the last few volumes of her admittedly engaging romance Dengeki Daisy is finally here. For the last two books, Teru and Kurosaki have been dancing around the fact that they are both in the know with regards to Kurosaki's “secret” identity as Daisy. This has mostly been used as a catalyst in their slowly building love story, but it also caused a bit of drag in the development of both plot and characters. Fortunately for flagging readers, Motomi has decided that it's time to up the ante, and this volume does just that with increased tension in both the romance and mystery plots.
Our story opens with Teru musing over her feelings for Kurosaki and how the way she sees him differs from how he is perceived by others. This leads us to the first man in the volume to try and separate the couple – Teru's English teacher Mr. Egawa. Like many people, Egawa only sees the delinquent-like exterior Kurosaki presents to the world, as well as his menial job. He assumes that Kurosaki must be a terrible human being, a moron who is corrupting good girl Teru. Like many an overenthusiastic young teacher, Egawa believes that it is his duty to save her.
Needless to say, Teru does not agree with this assessment. She is aghast that Egawa is unable to see Kurosaki's worth, and it is this that is worth remarking on. Teru's strength as a character comes from her ability to see beyond people's outer selves and her generous heart that accepts them for who they are. This is not a unique trait in the overall canon of shoujo manga, but Teru has such panache that she makes this staple seem fresh again. Partially this is due to the way Motomi draws her – Teru's goofy qualities add to her charm and Motomi gives new meaning to the term “duck face.” One scene after a particularly emotional email exchange between Teru and Daisy is a chuckle-out-loud moment of visual comedy.
Overall the art is still a bit messy and the pages crowded, although not so much as to really impair reading. Interestingly enough, Motomi herself complains about her art, specifically the lack of handsome men and her inability to draw breasts. Luckily the increased tension in the story makes up for the artistic shortcomings. With Kurosaki's decision to come clean, reached after mysterious and creepy newcomer Akira commits what both Teru and Kurosaki consider an unforgivable act, he sticks with it. Teru suspects what's up – Motomi has always gone out of her way to remind us that this is an intelligent young woman – and her anticipation helps the readers' to build. Indeed, the ending of this volume may leave readers clamoring for Viz to just hurry up and get volume eight out, a sentiment that, delightful as the series has been up to this point, it has not elicited before.
As the emotional core of the story builds, so does the mystery of Teru's deceased brother's work. It has been clear that Soichiro had a secret that his friends are working to conceal and that it somehow involved Kurosaki. Now with his relationship with Teru set to build, Kurosaki's secret is in jeopardy. His anxiety over the matter causes him to think more frequently about Soichiro, dreaming about early encounters with the man and remembering things that he said. Or is he saying them now for the first time, visiting Kurosaki in his dreams? The space left by this absent character has been felt keenly throughout the series, but the further we go, the more obvious it is just how large the gap he left behind. It's not an easy trick to pull, authorially speaking, and while it doesn't achieve the level of Tohru's mother in Fruits Basket, it is still an effective tool.
Dengeki Daisy had been slumping a bit since volume 4, and it is nice to see it make a strong comeback with this book. It still isn't the absolute best shoujo out there, but with its strong heroine, conflicted hero, and story that does both humor and emotion well, it is still most definitely a series worth reading.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B-
+ By turns funny and touching, a plot that is finally moving. Good use of a difficult writing trope.
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