The 4th volume of the Kase-san manga from Hirari Comics, Apron to Kase-san, is available in two editions. The Regular Edition contains the manga alone, while the Special Edition includes a Blu-Ray of the 6-minute animation Clip, “Kimi no Hikari” (which is still up on Youtube for you to enjoy.) (「エプロンと加瀬さん。」特装版 アニメーションクリップ「キミノヒカリ」Blu-rayつき). I’ve watched the animation clip a dozen or more times this summer working on presentations and at panels, but watching it on Blu-Ray was, for the first time ever for me, a “wow!” moment. This was animated to be seen in high-resolution on a large screen on Blu-Ray. It looks and sounds amazing.
The Special Edition comes in a fetching box with the cover art from the 4th volume. It includes the Blu-Ray and a color pamphlet of the production notes and character designs for the animation clip. It also includes a short doujinshi “An toki no Kase-san” with a few adorable Kase and Yamada moments seen from Kase-san’s side.
Apron to Kase-san, the fourth book in the series, marks a subtle shift in the story. Up until now, Yamada has, to some extent been watching her relationship with Kase-san as if she wasn’t herself involved. In part, because it all seems so…fantastic…and in part, because of her own self-esteem issues. In Volume 4, this has changed and we’re allowed to see to what extent, specifically that has happened.
Yamada’s still pretty humble and enthusiastic, but she’s started to find her own ground. She’s taking credit for her own hard work…and when she feels that she’s being teased too much by Kase-san’s former track sempai, she finally stands up for herself….and forces the sempai to back down.
For her own part, Kase-san is still trying too much to protect Yamada, leaving her vulnerable in other ways. But what has made this relationship work from the very beginning is the honesty with which Yamada and Kase speak to one another. So, when they speak of living together in Tokyo after graduation, we don’t cringe that they will be bringing a mess of communication baggage with them. Instead, we’re pretty convinced this is going to work.
I’m thrilled to see the series be so successful even after the magazine it ran in ceased publication. Shinshokan has always been open to trying new things, even back when JManga launched. I think the success of Kase-san post-magazine life, is a significant change in the way manga is going to be read and sold. Online distribution for the chapters, with both physical and digital distribution for the collected volumes should satisfy most readers.
And, as we reported on YNN this weekend, we’ll be getting a new animation clip in 2018! The folks at the Official Asagao to Kase-san website are bilingual so do send them a message on Twitter or Youtube to let them know how happy you are for this news! (YNN Correspodent Verso points out, correctly that the announcement states that there will be new “animation,” the word “clip” is not used. They also do not say an “anime,” (or ONA) so I presume that we will be getting another extended music video with highlights from Book 2, as this one had highlights from Book 1. It’s very likely I am wrong, but I will hold on to my assumption until more details are announced. ^_^)
Art – 8 Takashima-sensei’s art has really grown in confidence
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 8
Service – 5
Physical Extras – 10
Overall – 9
I don’t think I’ve ever rooted so hard for to characters (and a manga series) to succeed as I have for these two.