Saturday, April 3, 2010

I Hate You More Than Anyone! Volume 7

By Banri Hidaka. Released in Japan as "Sekai De Ichiban Daikirai!" by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by CMX.

First of all, I note that the cover art for each successive volume of this series is improving by leaps and bounds. This cover, featuring Maki and Honjo, just looks cool and sexy. Hidaka-san will get more experimental in the future as well, as the covers for Volumes 9 and 11 show.

This volume is mostly devoted to expanding on the Saki Sugimoto subplot, while simultaneously starting a new subplot with Kazuha and Senko agreeing to be models for a college fashion show. (For those who read V.B. Rose, note that the fashion designer, Eiko, is introduced in the EXACT same way that the bead worker, Ichihashi, is in V.B. Rose. It even has the same 'cliffhanger'.)

We get to see Saki in his natural 'complete jerkass' persona here, and it's clear that he's very good at manipulation. Admittedly, it's not all that hard to manipulate someone like Kazuha, who wears all of her emotions on her sleeve and wouldn't know the meaning of the word pretense. Saki doesn't even have to be pretending to be able to get what he wants, as his interactions with Senko show. He gives the impression of being truly dangerous, and is trying to get Akiyoshi to mistrust Maki.

It almost works. The fight in the car between Kazuha and Maki is one of the more serious moments in the series to date, with Maki reluctant to open up about his past and telling Kazuha that because she grew up in a happy family she thinks that all families are happy. We see one of the rare instances in this series of violence that isn't over the top and comic, as when Kazuha tries to get out of the car he autolocks the door, and she smashes her head against the car window glass. It's a rather depressing scene, and does not fill you with love for Saki.

Luckily, balancing this is the interaction between Senko and Honjo. They get more scenes together here than they have to date, as Senko takes it upon herself to quiz Honjo about exactly who Saki is... once she can get him to wake up, and after he takes her out for lunch. Honjo can't resist mocking Senko's inability to get to the point for all it's worth, and these scenes are the funniest in the book. Intriguingly, they end on a serious note, as when Senko finally does ask about Saki, we see Honjo's face get upset... possibly the first time we've EVER seen him react to something with an expression other than grumpy or smirky. It helps to underline Saki's threat.

There's not as much Akiyoshi Family here, though we get some cartoon violence against Ichihisa (always welcome), and Chizuru stressing out about his new friend Nijo attempting to bond with him. We also get to briefly see a shot of Mizumisha as he once was (threatening to strangle Saki after hearing that he's returned), and a brief cameo by Arata and Miharu (who gets a hysterical line when she greets Honjo: "Yay, villain face!"). Also note that I didn't have the reproduction problems with CMX's volume that I had with 6.

The volume ends on a cliffhanger with Saki going to Maki's apartment to confront him... or more likely, just to torture him. What will happen next? Find out in Volume 8!

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