My Special One Volume 5: Off To Okinawa



It’s not any sort of secret that romantic comedies, much like many other popular genres, are a painfully overpopulated genre in media- oftentimes filled to the brim with middle of the road work that conceals the outstanding work within. If that summarizes your struggle to find a Rom-Com to your tastes, you really don’t need to look further than My Special One.

Though, this isn’t supposed to sell you on the series, but rather to sell you on how good of an experience volume 5 for the series was. Obviously, this means that spoilers will be plentiful (though I hope to limit them at least a little bit), so read at your own risk.

If I were to summarize this volume of My Special One in a single sentence, it would be: “Give me more, please”. Yes, yes, very generic, but that’s genuinely my experience with the volume. From front to back, it’s an experience that leaves you wanting more. More of Sahoko and Kouta’s interactions, more romantic development between the pair, more of Sahoko’s unique humor wonderfully expressed by Momoko Koda, and more of an emerging direction for the story. I think that last point is incredibly important, personally. Any old Rom-Com is able to deliver a fun and mushy experience, but the ability to justify the continued existence of itself? That takes some guts, and some actual effort in terms of writing.

It’s very easy to fall into the idea of “I must have X person approve of my love with Y!”, it’s a rather effortless way to provide pointed drama to a romance. You might even be able to argue that My Special One falls prey to that same idea… if it played the same with multiple people versus one. That’s the idea that really gets me going with the story aspect of this series. Sahoko is a high school girl, so of course society and pop culture play a considerable role in her life. Dating an idol obviously adds extra weight to that, and being that “special someone” to Kouta means that Sahoko has a faceless army “against” her, making it feel like she’s holding up the weight of the world.

And I think that My Special One broaches that topic startlingly effectively. Where the idea of “X person accepting my love for Y” is the typical blueprint, My Special One uses that as boilerplate to create the foundation for Sahoko’s fears. It’s about the whole world finding out about her romance, but that fear stems from just a single person who doesn’t approve and subsequently spreads the information everywhere. And that very concern is delivered upon in this volume with the follow up on Akutagawa’s uncovering of Sahoko’s relationship with Kouta. It adds drama and a “proper” scare to the series at this point in time, and really expresses how much hangs in the balance of secrecy- in Sahoko’s mind. Being a “regular” high school girl (despite dating an idol), has Sahoko approaching problems as if she is the issue. Everything wrong starts with her, and always has (in her mind). Thankfully, this is a good series and Kouta is a good character, so that’s not how things end up shaking out.

“In what way is Kouta a good character?”, you might ask. Well, there’s quite a few ways but this volume of My Special One really focuses on his commitment to Sahoko as his girlfriend. I think a lot of times that sort of thing can feel artificial, especially within the context of such an unlikely relationship, but Koda does impressively well to keep things grounded. Kouta’s personality plays strongly into how he chooses to act in the volume- even bringing out a bit of gap moe- and really sells the reader on the fact that he does love Sahoko. He has nothing to prove to declare his commitment to this girl, Kouta faces no roadblocks or challenges in being able to express his love. So, how can you provide a comparative experience for him when against the backdrop of Sahoko? Well, you go back to basics, of course. He has nothing to hurdle to proclaim his love, so you bring the romance all the way to front, and have him meet Sahoko’s parents and ask for their blessing to date her.

It may seem rather plain and cliche, but I think it’s something that represents a very strong step forward for Kouta’s ability to face his feelings. Sahoko has become his rock in this life, and has allowed him to grow as a person a great deal. He’s had no struggles with expressing that much to Sahoko, but really being able to show that proof to others has been challenging. Akutagawa in that sense sets the stage for Kouta’s feelings to be more public, and meeting Sahoko’s mother helps seal the deal for his character.

It really is incredibly easy to fall into the trap of isolating and focusing on the “normal” girl in these types of romances, but I’ve been thoroughly impressed by Koda’s dedication to each and every character that appears. Yes, even the frustratingly shallow Akutagawa finds it in himself to grow as a character through exposure to Sahoko. Even the fashion model Emika is able to put herself out there and be confident when chasing after her crush. My only concern is that these characters form a bit of a rotating door where they come and go like the wind.

But let me claw that complaint back a little bit. Koda’s approach to it makes sense. Emika is a busy girl and only really overlaps with Sahoko when there’s idols afoot. Akutagawa appeared because Sahoko spent so much time at school with Kouta. The whole idea expressed is that because of the secrecy of Sahoko and Kouta’s relationship, the amount of supporting characters at Koda’s disposal in My Special One is very little. Conversely, Koda is undeniably aware of this limitation, and has been consistently moving the goalposts with this relationship to help widen the playing field. That is to say, Koda’s whole point here is that they’re getting ready to pull the rug out from beneath Sahoko and Kouta’s feet. The buildup has been consistent since volume 4, and you can feel how desensitized the pair have become to keeping their relationship secret. Both grow bolder day by day, unable to hold back their feelings and affection, and we quickly approach a tipping point in terms of the barely held together secrecy.

With all of that in mind, the question becomes: “What happens after the reveal?”. It’s an endlessly exciting idea to think about, and really has me amped to see what will happen in the next volume. My Special One has always found novel ways to surprise me with what can easily appear as a series very reliant on tropes and cliches, but as of late it’s been carving out territory to cement itself as a serious and original work. I don’t think there’s more to really ask for in that regard. The romance is strong and well expressed for being high school era, and Koda doesn’t shy away from showing affection and proper romantic development between the pair. The art remains incredibly hilarious and pretty, the characters multi-faceted and alive, and the list continues to go on- almost reaching the same length as this post. So, before I can launch into further explanation, I’ll leave it at “it’s very good” and provide readers with just a few of the many faces of Sahoko within My Special One.

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