Title: Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 3
Author: Kazura Kinosaki
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
My experience with the yuri manga series Strawberry Fields Once Again has been nothing but positive. But, unfortunately, Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 3 feels like a rushed work to fix all the plot lines and time-traveling timelines. It’s incredible the amount they were able to include in this entry. Still, it lacks any real charm or comedic elements the first volume introduced, opting instead to focus on the drama of why this all happened in the first place.
Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 3 begins where volume 2 leaves off as Akira is confused about her sudden desire to confess her love to someone she can’t remember. The theme of time travel has been present since volume 1, but here we get a lengthy dump of exposition that requires multiple readings to really understand. You see, there’s a power known as repainting that allows users to change events, and time will simply correct itself without being forced into a new universe.
The way the narrative explains everything is actually really clever, and we can connect the series of events as they were. Still, there’s also a clear antagonist in this situation. The story as a whole is one that I’d hate to ruin, but I felt like this would have benefited from an additional volume. The middle chapters are way too quick, with resolutions coming out of nowhere based on coincidences and chance run-ins with other characters. I would have liked the sense of unease to extend a few more chapters as we give up on the chance that Akira and Pure can find each other again.
This pacing hurts the experience, but it doesn’t take away from the emotion and love these characters feel. We get to see a new side of Akira, but Pure doesn’t really seem to show any signs of growth. The growth is then divided into the supporting cast, who seem to just appear in this volume. In fact, we learn a lot more about them than we do Pure’s relationship with Akira, a flimsy happenstance encounter that requires us to believe Akira travels the streets at night making sure girls get home safe after the club. Of course, that’s not exactly what happens, but it’s pretty tough to stomach.
If you’re here for the romance and resolution and this volume has it all. The illustrations are brilliant, and each set piece is expertly conveyed to provide the emotion of the cast. There aren’t too many light-hearted scenes here, but god damn, these characters can say some cute crap that’ll make you smile. I’m still not sold on their love as Akira is almost a blank slate, but she seems sold on the fact that she will do anything to stay with Pure, and that’s enough for me.
Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol. 3 concludes this yuri tale of time travel and love. As a whole, it’s a great story that was just too rushed in this final volume. I didn’t need the quickfire exposition and would have rather brewed in the loneliness longer, but I’m happy with the outcome. Time travel is a tough theme to tackle, but I think Kazura Kinosaki did a wonderful job putting these pieces together.
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