Yusuke has his first college girlfriend, but is his heart really in the right place?

The Lowdown

Yusuke’s high-school days ended with heartbreak, but this spurred him on to get into his ideal university as a way of getting back at Hermes. Now in his first year, Yusuke befriends a quirky girl named Makino Tsukushi as he helps drive her to work. However, Yusuke is introduced to another girl in his class named Yamaguchi, and she asks him out on a date. The two begin going out, but Yusuke’s heart might not be where it needs to be...

How Was It?

Forget Me Not’s previous volume showed Yusuke’s process of growing up through his heartbreaking experience with his teacher, Hermes, and what has made this series so special is the way that it shows the cumulative effect that Yusuke’s romantic episodes have had on shaping his development as a person. This reflected clearly in this volume’s story, which follows Yusuke’s college years as he begins a relationship of his own while striking up a friendship with a girl named Makino Tsukushi in a charming series of events. In contrast, Yusuke’s experience with his girlfriend, Yamguchi, takes up the bulk of this volume, and this ends up being a wonderfully compelling story precisely because of the way that Yusuke’s slow changing as a person is illustrated as he forges his way through his first real relationship.

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One of the things I’ve loved about this series is how well-characterized and relatable Yusuke has been as a protagonist, and the way that his feelings are continually explored and put into context as the story proceeds has really done a great job of heightening the emotional currency of his various romantic entanglements. It hasn’t been a mystery that Yusuke isn’t a perfect person in terms of the way that he handles his situations, but this has made the series even stronger because I always felt like his actions were well-rooted in his emotional state to provide the context necessary each event to resonate with me on an emotional level. This continued enjoyably in this volume in his interactions with Yamaguchi, and it was really charming to watch him struggle his way through his nervousness as he tried to figure out what he felt for her. It never goes quite the way he wants it to go, but in some ways I liked how true to life this felt especially in the way that Yusuke reacts to all the little set-backs in the grand scheme of things.

Like I noted in my previous reviews, what this series does so well is illustrate the emotional messiness of relationships, and what I really enjoyed about this volume was the way that we see Yusuke’s range of emotions brought on by this relationship from confusion and sadness to utter joy. Additionally, I really liked the way that it was the influence of his previous experience was made very clear through his reflections, and a scene I particularly enjoyed was one where he reflects on experience with Hermes and wonders why the things the drove him before even matter now after time has healed him. This series does a great job showing how a person’s experiences really shape the person they become, and it’s definitely a rare treat to see this continually represented with Yusuke’s development in this volume.

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Yamaguchi’s introduction in the previous volume felt appropriately subdued because of the way the story focused on Yusuke’s friendship with Makino, and I was left assuming that Yamaguchi would be a bit player in the drama to come. I was pleased to be proven very wrong here though, and surprisingly one of the strongest aspects of this volume was the way that it was able to develop Yamaguchi not only into a meaningful character in terms of her impact on the plot, but also into a character that was very well fleshed-out and worth caring for. I enjoyed very much that her feelings were clearly explicated in terms of her own emotional struggle, and this was complemented fantastically in a flash-back sequence showing her life with her parents which really helped establish her character as well as put some of her actions into context. The establishment of Yamaguchi as a character definitely added a lot of weight to the plot in terms of the dynamic between her, Yusuke, and Makino, and definitely added a bit of “oh no, oh no!” to loom arrival of the type of heartbreak that this series has been all about so far.

Although she doesn’t get as much focus in this volume, I thought Makino’s characterization in this volume was accomplished extremely well. We see her awkward sort of middle-role in Yusuke and Yamaguchi’s relationship established, but I appreciated that this was shown more subtly through her body language as well as through her dialogue. Forget Me Not’s art has been absolutely fantastic so far in terms of showing a wide-range of emotions in the expressions of its characters, and this comes through very clearly in terms of the expressions of longing that Makino is shown with at small points in this volume to illustrate her inner struggle. This isn’t just isolated to her though, and Yusuke and Yamaguchi’s respects feelings are expressed very well through the illustration. One of the most interesting things about this series continues to be the way that the reader is able to pick up emotional subtext that Yusuke misses in his interactions, and I thought this worked quite well in terms of bringing to mind the way that one can pick up on things that weren’t clear at the time due to recollection. This was particularly well done with Yamaguchi because of the way that the art was able to differentiate very subtly between her genuinely happy smiles versus her smiles that had something hidden behind them. I really liked the way that small things such as this went a long way in terms of adding some emotional depth to the main characters to complement the story.

Final Thoughts

Forget Me Not Vol. 3 is another fantastic volume in this series which really delves into the range of emotions that come about from the romantic experience. I really enjoyed the way that Yusuke continues to grow as a person as a culmination of his prior romantic experiences, and this was shown wonderfully in him attempting to sort his way through his first real relationship. However, I was also really impressed that the other characters aren’t left behind, and the continuing characterization of both Makino and Yamaguchi did a lot to add emotional weight to this volume’s story. The art is also just plain awesome and does a great job adding emotional subtext to the story. Forget Me Not is rounding into one of the finest romantic series being released today and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Yusuke’s heartbreaking story.

What do our scores mean?

Forget Me Not Vol. 3 was translated by Ko Ransom and published by Kodansha Comics USA on July 12h, 2016. Authored by Nao Emoto based on the original story by Mag Hsu, the series is ongoing in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine. Volume 4 will be released in English on September 13th 2016.

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