Warning: this review includes spoilers.
Riko acts like she doesn't care when Ran comes back from a trip with Rinko, the fiancee his dad picked out for him, in tow. However, she can't bring herself to just stand back when Rinko admits she wants to marry Ran for his money. Then Riko and Ran celebrate Christmas together at one of Ran's swanky parties. As Riko sees Ran schmoozing with all the rich people, she begins to doubt that their relationship will last. Her fears appear to be coming to pass when Ran begins acting distantly towards her during a cruise, but Riko finds the courage to fight for Ran and their relationship when he's kidnapped by some terrorists.
I liked this volume more than the first, if only because I could pretend that Ran and Riko's relationship hadn't begun with him repeatedly forcing his presence on her. Also, Ran had fewer opportunities to behave horribly towards others.
That's not saying this volume was good, just that it was better than the first. It was a bit of a rushed mess, actually. There I was, expecting more over-the-top goofy fluff, and instead what I mostly got was a tragedy-tinged love story. Riko worried about the difference in their social classes, Ran worried that the difference in their social classes would cause Riko future pain (never mind that he originally forced himself into her life without any regard for her desire to live a normal life), and Riko occasionally remembered that she was supposed to feel a little awkward about her super-strength. There were some over-the-top moments, like the terrorists (who were also Ran's family's business rivals?) and the bit with Ran's fiancee, but I honestly think Takagi would have been better off increasing the goofiness and scaling back the “tragic lovers” stuff. The difference between volume 1's tone and volume 2's tone was off-putting.
Takagi's focus felt off, like she didn't quite know what kind of story she wanted to tell or how to carry it through more than a single volume. There were bits here and there that were good, or would have been good if Takagi had pushed them more. For example, at the end of the volume Riko did things to save Ran that she'd have felt too insecure to do before, due to her desire to be an ordinary girl. This could have made a nice volume 1 finale (if their "romance" hadn't been awful), because that volume mentioned her negative feelings about her physical abilities a lot. However, volume 2 was primarily focused on Riko and Ran's differing social classes. It just didn't fit.
All in all, this was a mediocre ending to a disappointing series. The best thing this series had going for it was its artwork, and even that wasn't anything special.
The volume also included an unrelated extra story, “Warm to the Touch,” which starred a high school student named Kashu. Kashu was terrified of people touching him, due to bad childhood memories of his aunt forcing her affection on him. I know that a lot of people see nothing wrong with relatives forcing hugs and kisses on kids, but since that kind of thing is part of the reason why I have touching hang-ups of my own, I totally understood, although Kashu's reaction was more extreme.
Anyway, the only person he could tolerate touching him was Sayuri Kimura, the biology teacher at his school. When he injured himself, her touch as she bandaged him was reassuringly impersonal. Unfortunately, this led to him deciding he was in love with her. The teacher gently but firmly turned him down (yay!), but then changed her mind later on (boo!).
I'm sure that Takagi intended for this to be a sweet love story, but I just couldn't take it that way. Kashu needed counseling, especially considering that he started engaging in self-harm (re-opening the wound Sayuri bandaged) after too much time away from Sayuri.
Several author sidebars and a 4-page bonus comic featuring Ran and Riko's wedding.
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
- Special A (manga) by Maki Minami; Special A (anime TV series) - This is another romantic comedy starring characters from differing social classes - Hikari is a poor scholarship student, while Kei is a rich kid who will eventually take over his family's business. Also, Hikari has amazing physical abilities, although she doesn't feel the slightest bit awkward about it. I've written about the anime.
- Ouran High School Host Club (manga) by Bisco Hatori; Ouran High School Host Club (anime TV series) - A series starring a poor scholarship student and a bunch of rich, good-looking guys. In the anime, at least, Haruhi isn't the slightest bit interested in romance, although at least a couple of the guys are interested in her. The issue of their differing social classes becomes more important later in the series. I've written about the first 13 episodes of the anime and volume 1 of the manga.