Manga Update: Thoughts on the Ending of Faster than a Kiss

Drama lovers have no inkling what perseverance and determination a manga lover needs to have to endure an addiction to a long-running serial. It’s thirty plus years now for oldies like Glass no Kamen, and most recently I’ve been reading 7 Seeds and I doubt it will end anytime in the next decade. So it’s always a relief when any live manga ends and I can finally put one aside as completed. I wrote about Tanaka Meca‘s Faster than a Kiss last year here (キスよりも早く or Kisu Yori mo Hayaku), a frothy little shoujo manga in the vein of some truly great predecessors in the teacher-student romance genre. Turns out being the new kid on the block wasn’t actually a bad thing, as FtaK easily became my favorite of this story subject matter.

While my first instinct is to disapprove of teacher-student romances, FtaK was so well done that it took away any icky factor and instead was all about the growth and maturation of the student Fumino foremost while the romance took a backseat. FtaK finished this month at chapter 57, and while the ending was a bit of a letdown in some ways, ultimately it ended with the same lovely beat as the story has sustained during its entire run. Those who don’t want to be spoiled don’t read on, otherwise I’ll share my thoughts on the final arc and ending of this story. This manga is quite popular and has been scanlated into English so those of you wanting to read it can easily find it online.

Yes, we FINALLY get a kiss! In a manga with kiss in its title, this story has frustratingly kept the OTP of Fumino and Kazuma from actually kissing for the entire run. Oh, there was plenty of sweet moments and some almost kisses (the kiss with the glass pane between them, the one where he puts his hand over her mouth before kissing her, the neck kiss, etc.), but it was clear the writer didn’t want the couple to actually make that final leap until Fumino was ready. The story was all about how this sixteen year old girl found herself homeless with a younger brother to raise, and was saved in every way by her teacher Kazuma. He married her on paper to shelter her, and then encouraged her to pursue her dreams while keeping her at bay knowing that a girl’s youthful love could be fraught with misguided notions.

Through it all, there was no stupid misunderstandings between them and we watched as their characters got to know each other gradually and fall in love believably. So in the end, when Fumino asked Kazuma to “marry” her, and he dared to accept after realizing that she had matured to the point where she could make that decision and knew her own heart, the wedding was a genuine moment of celebration. It wasn’t fanservice, and was rather bittersweet for Kazuma’s younger brother Shoma to put a definitive end to his crush on Fumino. I liked that the story never made Kazuma and his father magically reconcile, nor did his father ever accept Fumino into the family. But everyone ended up in a good place, where old misgivings were finally overcome and a sense of contentment blanketed their world.

Overall FtaK was so much better than what I expected, which probably accounts for why I like it more than qualitatively it stands up to muster. Nowadays mangas tend to rush the development of a romantic relationship and throw in tons of situational obstacles and contrivances. FtaK was devoid of either, and took its merry time getting the OTP together. I enjoyed watching Fumino spend three years in high school being a high school student and finding her future aspirations, all while secretly married to Kazuma. There was very little titillation with this so-called taboo relationship, especially since towards the end it was Fumino making the moves on Kazuma while he chastely kept her at bay in the most respectful and tender of ways. A bevy of side characters were kept to a minimum and well-used throughout the story. I was worried that Shoma’s entrance midway would lead to a makjang brotherly love triangle with Fumino, yet that never happened. His crush on Fumino was adorable and quite simmering, and he had a great bickering chemistry with her. In many ways, the love triangle reminds of the one in Sunny Happiness, where two brothers respectfully each liked the girl without pressuring her or ruining their bromance.

I’ll look back fondly on FtaK for for really sustaining a measured pace through its entire run. As a fan I wanted more than just a wedding and a few kisses at the end, but narratively it stayed true to Tanaka Meca’s style. This story was never about a series of romantic moments strung together with some dull coming-of-age fare, it was instead a coming-of-age story with some romantic moments interspersed teasingly throughout. I love how the final chapters were devoted to Fumino studying hard for her college entrance exams and passing it, with a goal set on being an English teacher somewhere down the road just like Kazuma. It was bittersweet that Kazuma’s father forced him to take a teaching position elsewhere so that he could be with Fumino, but the separation was taken in stride and not milked for tears and fears. Ultimately, the roadblocks between Fumino and Kazuma fell by the wayside one-by-one, until they finally earned the chance to be together and they took it.

It was also a pleasure reading a shouja manga male lead who wasn’t some sort of delinquent, alpha male, damaged degenerate, or ice prince. Kazuma was warm, intelligent, gentlemanly, and a riot of laughs with his quirky sense of humor. But he wasn’t a paragon of virtue, and his dark past and some seriously intense moments where he had to resist Fumino made my toes curl he was so hot. He’s easily my favorite romantic manga leading man in recent memory, though he doesn’t have much competition since his compatriots have been sorely lacking in chivalry or personality. I’ve been crowing about how this manga is perfect to adapt into a J-dorama, and now that its finished, I hope Japan gets on it right away. While my world would seriously spin on its axis if my perfect choices of Kawaguchi Haruna and Daito Shunsuke were tapped for the leads, I’ll be cool if the live-action version with a solid cast gets made eventually. Japan needs more romantic doramas, and a romance wrapped in maturation and educational growth has J-audience catnip written all over it. Thanks for a fun ride, FtaK, I enjoyed every minute of it.

© 2012, ockoala. All rights reserved.


Comments

Manga Update: Thoughts on the Ending of Faster than a Kiss — 29 Comments

  1. FINALLY! Now that it’s finished, I can start reading it XD. I usually run screaming from ongoing manga, regardless of how popular it is – I’ve learnt my lesson with Skip Beat and Kimi Ni Todoke (and will definitely stay away from 7 Seeds, thankyouverymuch). Nice review! I would love to see your picks as potential live action leads

    • my sentiments tooo .
      But i cant let go of skip beat everytime a new ch comes i am li,e i will leave few pages…but i end up reading the whole ch..

      • That was me too with Skip Beat. I only gave up just a month or two ago. Same old love triangle, same old road blocks. It’s like all the character development that happened during the Valentine’s Day arch or the Dangerous Mission haven’t changed a thing! It’s Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (The Wallflower) all over again.

  2. Thank you for this! I just saw today that this series ended and wondered if I should give it a shot. But if you like it, I’ll definitely try it. Especially since it sounds like it was consistent and interesting all the way to the end. That is such a rare quality in a long-running manga.

    I try to avoid reading ongoing manga series or even just long running series. It never ends well for me. Either the manga never ends (I’m looking at you, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge) or the ending is a non-existant “I just wanna stop writing this story” bit of nonsense (hi there, Goong). In either case, what normally happens is I get frustrated with the slow, merry-go-round pace and drop the series on my own. I finally gave up on Skip Beat, after defending it for years, because I realized that it was never going to end. The author was just going to find a new way to bring everyone back to square 1 at the end of every single story arch!

    Clearly I needed a series to restore my faith in manga. Faster than a Kiss looks like it might fit the bill.

      • Aww, Fruits Basket was my very first manga series! I liked Hoshi Wa Utau too, but I haven’t been able to get into her other series.

        But seeing that we have similar taste (I was a Kimi Ni Todoke victim too) have you tried anything by Sakisaka Io? Strobe Edge and Blue are both worth a read. She’s a rare manga-ka that seems to enjoy giving her stories proper endings. Though, I’m constantly afraid that she’ll forget how to do that and just let her new series Ao Haru Ride go on forever. Though I probably would have been just as afraid if I had read Strobe Edge while it was ongoing.

  3. ~flails~

    Yeah, I have nothing else to say about this manga, because it leaves me speechless. I want Kazuma to be my real-life significant other in the worst way. Mmmmmm. ^_^

  4. Quaggy: I loved Fruits Basket so much that I’m usually hesitant to read anything else by the same mangaka – but Hoshi Wa Utua seems interesting. Is it still ongoing? I’ve never heard of Sakisaka Io, but will definitely check out Strobe Edge and Blue :) It’s hard to find genuinely good, full length completed series these days.

    Fushigi Yuugi: The Mysterious Play is a guilty pleasure of mine – and certainly long enough! Also, if you liked Fruits Basket, I think you’ll love Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume. I’d recommend Dengeki Daisy, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s still ongoing :(

    • Thank you for the recommendations, Mira! I’ll definitely check out Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume. I’ve been afraid to even try Fushigi Yuugi, just because of its length, but I’ll give it a shot.

      And I should have figured that you liked Dengeki Daisy! I got sucked in to that one too, until the manga-ka decided he just didn’t want the story to end. His earlier one shots are pretty good, though.

  5. Drama lovers have no inkling what perseverance and determination a manga lover needs to have to endure an addiction to a long-running serial.
    I have only ever read a handful of mangas but i always make sure that they are already over

  6. Oh Jomo and mtoh where are you… Did you not hear the great news that Dr Jin will have two more episodes and that will be 22 episodes….

  7. wow. i’ve been lurking here for a long while now (mostly with YEH’s news and drama) and I was surprised to see this…i didnt know y’all like manga too. i read this and was happy of the ending…though i wanted more. lol. i think it was funny that the father-in-law bought the wedding dress and he tried not to be interested, but he looked a bit satisfied when he saw the photo from the phone. hehehehe…
    it will be awesome if this manga turned jdorama…hehehe…thanks for sharing.

  8. LoL this is funny, I gave up on Glass Mask manga few years ago, while still persevering with Skip Beat (sigh just too difficult to let go of it). Few days back, was too bored and return to the world of anime. Rewatched Hikaru no Go and tried to check out Glass Mask anime which I’ve never watch (seems I have a fondness for dark horse stories lol). Then bang! Koala comes up with this post. Haha the coincidence :) Hmm may try out this manga, thanks for it Koala!

  9. I don’t know why, for some reason I thought that I heard somewhere they *were* making FTaK into a live action drama. Maybe I just wanted it so badly I dreamed about it…? Lol.

    Drama lovers have no inkling what perseverance and determination a manga lover needs to have to endure an addiction to a long-running serial.

    THIS. Seriously, people have *no* idea. I’ve been following so many long running manga over the years, every time one finally ends I breathe a bittersweet sigh of relief. On one hand, happy for it finally to come to a conclusion and on the other, sad that the journey is over.

    • I know that feeling when it ends, like your breaking a routine you’ve developed for some years and now it’s over :/
      I still go back every month to check updates on mangas that ended, pure habit and just completely itching for more

    • Yes! I’ve been following quite a lot of manga series for seemingly AGES, and one is already almost at volume 80 (this is the only one I always buy when it comes out)…I’m scared to calculate the amount of money I spent on all of them! XD

      With some mangas, it really annoys me, because the story just isn’t as good anymore, and one is led to assume that they’re just continuing for the sake of keeping their project going, but don’t really have all that much to tell anymore. I wish they’d map it out beforehand, tell their story, and then stop, even if it’s popular, and start something new.

      • Right! I get so frustrated when the story quality drops. Even Fruits Basket became boring after a while before it picked up again, and I didn’t care for the last half of Ouran High School Host Club either. And don’t even get me started on Vampire Knight. Lol.

  10. I’m sooo ecstatic you talked about FtaK, Koala I do know the determination and patience it takes to read a very long manga
    I found this manga when there were just 3 chapters, I was very bored that summer and was reading mangas like they were going out of style..impossible ;) And since then this one has been my absolute FAV, I liked that Fumino was strong and even in embarrassing situations for her she always persevered and voiced what she wanted. And I always loved that Kazuma was patient letting her have time to be a kid and make her own decisions.
    There was a brief moment afters many many chapters that I kinda wanted Shoma to end up with Fumino, she brought out the best in him and made him a better person…. After a hit to the head I came back to Kazuma and fumino xD
    I’m kinda sad it’s over, I read this manga with my best friend in high school during computer class 4yrs ago :(
    This manga is awesome, anyone who hasn’t read it, should take the plunge now and be thankful your not waiting almost 5yrs for it’s amazing conclusion >_<
    Thank you Koala

  11. finished reading this manga too… this really calls for a live action so please Japan hear ye hear ye… XD… and Koala thank you for posting about this, for you have introduced me to a treasure… :)

  12. Aw, that’s sweet. I’ve only read a few chapters of this, but now I feel like reading the whole thing.
    Though I’m currently re-reading my Inu Yasha volumes, so yeah, I don’t have time yet XD
    I think it’s wonderful that she found a sensible place to end it and didn’t drag it on endlessly!

  13. It’s finally finished? I have to get back on reading that ASAP. This actually shocks me I remember waiting forever for chapters to be scantalated and it was only on like Chapter 17. Now all I vae to do is wait for Dengeki Daisy to be finished.

  14. Hahahaha. It’s true. I started Skip Beat! my childhood ago. Okay, so I’ve been a kid for much longer than most people.

    This was a pretty cute manga, indeed. Very happy fluffy fun times. :)

  15. Thank you. Now i can start reading this manga. I’ve been putting it aside for fear that i might not get to read the end of it owing to long wait for each chapter. I love you Mrs. Koala for updating us everytime…

  16. Honestly one of my favorite mangas hands down! It’s exactly how you described it: “But he wasn’t a paragon of virtue, and his dark past and some seriously intense moments where he had to resist Fumino made my toes curl he was so hot.” Girl, during those moments, woo!

  17. Interesting blog post. What I would like to bring up is that personal computer memory should be purchased when your
    computer can no longer cope with anything you do by using it.

    One can deploy two RAM memory boards having 1GB each, by way of example, but not certainly one of 1GB and one with 2GB.

    One should look for the manufacturer’s documentation for own PC to ensure what type of memory space is required.

  18. hi koala!! i JUST finished this manga.. grrr!!! i want to read the volume 58 NOW!!!!!! can you please notify me? i REALLY LOVE the characters!! :))) and also you are right! teacher-student relationship is awkward~ in reality~ but if I have a twirl with a sensei like him.. I will definitely say ” I DO!”… <3

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