Title: LAST GAME [ ラストゲーム ]
Author: Amano Shinobu (Story & Art)
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
Published: Aug 24, 2011
Chapters: 18 (On-Going)
Serialization: LALA Magazine
LAST GAME is a manga I have come across about a little more than a year ago, and I quickly fell in love with it. As of the late I have been meaning to write up a recommendation post and on Saturday boom, I finally got down to it. Keep in mind this isn’t a review, it is a recommendation post.
At first glance (or more accurately right off the bat with the first page), to those who are familiar or have read Special A (S.A.) might feel or jump to the conclusion that it’s the exactly same as S.A, only with reversed genders- but it’s not. In fact it is FAR from it. That isn’t what the story is about at all.
The “Last Game” is all about a challenge that Yanagi had proposed to Kujou in hopes to help her recognize his romantic feelings towards her, thus once she does Yanagi wins and already has plans to get engaged with her. It’s a very sweet, because Kujou’s world is only starting to open up now- but you have to feel for Yanagi as Kujou accidentally and repetitively drops the “Friend-Zone” bombs onto him since she is so happy now that she can fully embrace life and identifies Yanagi as her good friend.
In the beginning, the story heavily focuses on Yanagi’s perspective, but now as Kujou is now gradually becoming more aware about Love and her feelings towards Yanagi, the focus as shifted to her. Either way it is balanced out between the two of them starting from Chapter 4. They are really two precious idiots, and you will absolutely love them.
LAST GAME covers their Primary School, Middle School, and High School before jumping to their University life- which is great because there aren’t enough shoujo stories taking place at a time when the characters are more mature than they would be in high school.
Yanagi Hisato starts off as a real stuck up kid who is very proud of his family’s success, being top of the class and athletics and even gets scouted by talent scouts. He identified himself as King of the World.
However everything changed when Kujou Mikoto transferred to his class. He was quickly dethroned by Kujou who proven to be a formidable rival who could care less about his rivalry. Yanagi quickly learns that Kujou works hard at what she does because she wants to become independent as soon as possible for her mother’s sake. Having learned that Kujou doesn’t have any tutors nor does she attend cram school Yanagi decided to try winning with his own strength. Then when it came to choosing which middle school to attend, after having heard Kujou is going to a public, Yanagi goes to the same instead of the private one he was initially going to enter. However despite his efforts, even without being in the same class- Kujou continued to keep him in second place. With that said, one could say that Yanagi either had an unhealthy obsession with trying to defeat her, or is really dedicated and attached to her. I have always felt it was more of the latter simply because Yanagi will NOT put up with people saying crap about Kujou.
Soon enough Love is pulled into play when Yanagi overheard some boys talking about how “The one who falls in love first is the loser”, and decides to switch up his tactics to trying to make Kujou fall in love/develop a crush on him- which proves to be far more difficult than he had anticipated since Love and relationships never once have ever crossed Kujou’s mind. But what makes Yanagi fall for Kujou in the first place is because she could care less about his family status, it doesn’t faze her- instead she sees him for who he is, something that he relishes since its his family title and good looks are really what makes him popular.
It’s in high school when the two of them really starts getting to know each other. Yanagi was there when Kujou received a call that her mother was in the hospital and saw a whole different side of her and continued to stick by her side as a friend ever since.
Despite only having been three chapters, because Yanagi had debuted at a young age, over the course of the ten years you can see Yanagi’s growth and maturity. The only thing that hasn’t changed is his stuck-up personality. He can’t help it, that’s just who he is- and in a ways rightfully so (excluding his good-looks) ever since he cast aside his tutors and stopped going to cram school and took upon the challenge itself to get where he is today.
Chapter 3 is when things finally kicks off by jumping straight to University and we finally get to see things in Kujou’s perspective where as we learn more about her mindset and what she had thought of Yanagi’s ten years of persistence.
I really felt for Kujou during this particular chapter because after all of these years, since childhood Kujou has always put her mother first, and only now- when she is in University her mother tells her “Don’t think too much about me, I hope you can chase your own happiness” like, woman- she devoted her entire childhood for your sake and you are only telling her this now? Kujou understandably is stunned because she doesn’t know what else to do. She doesn’t have anything. She never got to experience that. Or rather, she never had a childhood. Yanagi is all she has who have been by her side for ten years.
Now that Kujou is ready to embrace life and is looking to expand her social circle by joining clubs, she also drawing attention to herself. Yanagi quickly finds out that there is competition brewing, as likewise to Kujou who eventually encounters a girl who is quite determined to make Yanagi’s hers. Unfortunately for both opposing characters their love is one-sided, but it’s thanks to them that Kujou starts to becomes more aware of her feelings towards Yanagi because up to this point, she was oblivious to these emotions nor has she ever experienced it.
When I first started reading the LAST GAME, it was simply the short-stories, I thought that was the end of it-a done deal. So when I learned that it was being made into a series (and was picked up by fan-translaters), I was ecstatic. I sincerely hope that Kodansha or VizMedia (since I DOUBT that YenPress would ever license this title since it’s not really their thing) that will license this title one day- I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED TO HAVE IT IN MY COLLECTION (I own the Japanese copy of Vol 1 and 2 though- not that I can read them yet…). It is really sweet, the characters are refreshing and adorable and you know what I love best about this story? It is one hell of a slow love story and Yanagi and Kujou love each other for who they are. While it is taking it’s sweet time it also manages to have a great pace which is one of the key things that keep my sanity when it come down to slower developments. On top of that, this isn’t dealing with the same old repetition and “demand for challenge” like Special A, which was something I absolutely loathed because I quickly grew tired of it and stopped collecting the series at Vol 10. (I mean it’s not entirely bad, but overtime it gets really annoying).
So if you like… or rather have the patience for slow, but gradually developing shoujo romance, this is definitely a title you should start reading or add to your ‘to-read’ list.