MANGA REVIEW | "Romantic Killer" - Volume Four [FINALE]
I warned you. If you didn’t watch Netflix’s adaptation of Romantic Killer, then you wouldn’t have ever guessed what would happen in its final volume. And yet, even with me knowing what occurs, it still doesn’t take the uncomfortableness away from it all. But man, does Romantic Killer hit it out of the ball park with how they present a truly horrifying situation.
Things start off normally, with Anzu, Kazuki, Junta, and Riri going to a summer festival. There’s laughs, some friendship conflicts, and plenty of food stalls for Anzu to pig out on. However, this is all leading towards the final arc of this series, one involving Kazuki and his stalker. And when she appears, the tone of the narrative takes a hard left turn!
After Anzu pulls Kazuki away from the threat, he decides to share with her his back story. Originally a popular kid in middle school, Kazuki had nothing to worry about. That’s when a kind gesture downward spirals into something that’ll give any reader the shivers. Mysterious packages start showing up to Kazuki’s home, photos of him are being posted on Instagram, and then…one of the scariest things a stalker can do happens. The worst part: Kazuki’s father puts all the blame on his son for not being strong enough.
It’s a moment in Romantic Killer that could cause complete silence in a room filled with readers. How it’s all framed, on top of the reaction from Kazuki’s father, is done in a very unnerving light. In one single moment, this brightly-colored manga takes a page out of Shuzo Oshimi’s Blood on the Tracks, forcing its readers to be in the same room as Kazuki as he’s blamed for something he has zero control over. Be it in manga form or in its anime adaptation, this flashback is terrifying to bear witness to.
Thankfully, Kazuki has a friend like Anzu in his corner. Her words aren’t just the thing he needs; it’s the words that every victim of stalking deserves to hear. Victim-blaming is one of the worst things a person can do, as it does no good to both solve to problem or make the person feel safe. Author Wataru Momose, who took this arc from a news story he once heard, puts it all out there for Kazuki and the readers to see how bad a problem stalking can be, as well as why no one affected by it should be blamed.
However, the trouble unfortunately doesn’t stop there. The stalker starts making moves to take out Anzu, first by using hired goons. (Thankfully, the once-useless Riri comes in with a superb save.) When that doesn’t work, the stalker takes matters into her own hands. What happens then is terrifying in many ways, but it leads to a smack heard ‘round the world that any reader would cheer for. (It's also followed by another slap that'll make anyone smile gleefully.)
It’s hard to continue talking about the finale of Romantic Killer without going into some big spoiler territory. But I will say it ends on a level of hope. The experiment continues onward, with none of Anzu’s maybe-boyfriends being given the green light to start a relationship. With that being said, it’s not a cop-out ending in the slightest.
Yes, maybe one day, Momose can return to the world of Romantic Killer, and continue on with this wacky experiment. But for now, this narrative was truly satisfying. In fact, most romantic comedies take dozens of manga volumes to reach the level of character development showcased in the four this series did. And even though Anzu doesn’t pick a winner, the narrative offered plenty to satisfy any lover (and even hater) of this genre. Despite its open-ended conclusion, Romantic Killer’s final volume helped cement it as one of the best rom-coms anyone could ever read or — in the anime’s case — watch in recent memory.
Now give your cat a big hug, chow down on chocolate, and play all the video games you want. I think you earned it.
FINAL GRADE (Volume Four):
FINAL GRADE (series):
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.