This series about a group of over-achieving high school students always make me feel like a total slacker, so I figured staring with this one would help motivate me for a 24-hour project. I'ts been a few months since I read vol. 11 and I'm very grateful for Minami's cast of characters at the beginning of each book. I love reading the Japanese names in "real" manga, although the nicknames, honorifics, and switching between first and last names gets confusing. For example: Hikari Hanazono could be called Hikari by family, Hanazono by friends, Hikari-chan by her best friend, and Hana-san by classmates who need her help.Four names and variations of those for one character - and this manga has 10 main characters so far. Add reading right-to-left to the mix and you get why reading manga after reading a "regular" book is like switching to an analog watch after using a digital one. Sometimes I think I can feel the gears in my brain shifting. :-)
This volume's story lines were pretty convoluted with the main story line (of Kei's grandfather pressuring him to leave Japan and, more importantly, Hikari in order to take over the family company in London) not continuing until the final third of the book. There's one truly beautiful moment where kids from a rival school threaten Hikari (the heroine) as a way to get to Kei (the hero) as they see her as his only weakness. Kei complete turns the tables on them, leaving the bad guys knocked to the ground begging for mercy. In a great frame series with blazing eyes and flowing hair from both hero and heroine, Kei informs the trouble-makers "Who said Hikari's my weakness? Hikari makes me a thousand times stronger." Sniffle.