As we know from the first volume, Maria doesn’t know much about her father. Studying English appears to be her way of getting to know him, but it hasn’t been going that well. But I guess her memory is better than what she thinks, as Maria stuns everyone — including herself – when she bursts into song. In English. And starts talking. In English.
So here’s a phrase she should be able to understand now: what the heck?!
As he indicated he would in volume 1, Rintarou invites Maria to a party. Just when Maria seems to have gathered the courage to accept, she once again meets Yuriko, the rich girl who wanted Maria to give Rintarou a letter. That letter, it turns out, was a request to be Rintarou’s escort at that party, and realizing their class differences causes Maria to reject his invitation. But a game of Truth or Dare pushes her to admit she wanted to go and she does get to dress up. Yuriko then announces Maria is the entertainment, and the pressure is what somehow triggers Maria’s English skills.
Now, there were a few spots that suggested Maria and Rintarou had met before, but I kind of dismissed them when Rintarou said they had met twice before, which matched what we’ve seen, and him saying he doesn’t know why he’s interested in her. I still think it’s more likely than not they don’t have a childhood history, but Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance proves Maria’s memory is, at the very least, off. Maybe she’s blocking out something traumatic, which could explain at least some of Mom’s harsh and selfish behavior. Maybe not, and Maria just absorbed a lot when she was a young girl. Either way, Miyasaka has to come up with one heck of an explanation as to why Maria suddenly has English skills. Also, why just as she’s forced to come up with a talent, someone plays a song she recognized. Coincidence? Or did the pianist know something?
That’s the problem I’m struggling with in this series. Is the storytelling really that bad, or is there a deeper reason for the things we’re seeing? Even if Miyasaka explains the whys, volume 2’s ending is still likely to feel forced, even moreso than how the couple kept suddenly meeting in volume 1. The ending shows Maria’s blooming confidence, but the whole “can sing and speak English” part was eyerolling and the main reason I didn’t like volume 2. Even the Truth or Dare scene reads awkwardly: Maria thought just before that she doesn’t know what to say to Rintarou, and then a few pages later, her “dare” to him asks to give her courage.
Also, side note: Grandma is still awesome. I heart Grandma.
Anyway, though, the manga does confirm something I kind of wondered about in volume 1: Maria is 16, Rintarou 15. Rintarou’s age does help explain his personality, and it is a nice change from most of these stories that the female lead is older (although not by much). A few panels shows Rintarou is still a bit unsure of himself, but his straightforwardness and not seeing Maria as just an interesting new toy is refreshing in shoujo manga. This series may remind people of manga like Stepping on Roses, but it’s easier to root for Rintarou than the male lead in that manga.
However, there’s much less intrigue, and the chain of events here comes across as very unnatural. Maybe I’ll change my mind later on down the line, but for now, any chemistry between Rintarou and Maria is just being swallowed by the repeated coincidences and lucky breaks.