In this chapter, Ishida becomes aware of how deep the scars from his troubled past are. While spending an afternoon with a large group of acquaintances, presumably for the first time in years, his primary concern is protecting Nishimiya from being bullied, as she was years ago. However, it seems to be only Ishida who is unable to move past his unpleasant middle school years. Both the perpetrators and victims of that past bullying have gone on with their lives, some even becoming friends with each other. In fact, at least one of the former tormentors doesn’t remember herself as a bully at all. This series of realizations brings Ishida’s primary internal conflict into full focus.
After his childhood experiences of bullying Nishimiya, and becoming severely bullied in return, Ishida is a character who is greatly withdrawn and slow to make any friends at all. However, when he sees the fun that Nishimiya is having, and realized that he himself is having a good time, the question is put forward: Should Ishida open himself more to other people, after taking such massive psychological scars? Additionally, does he actually need to be as protective of Nishimiya as he has been? The answers to these questions are not obvious; while Nishimiya seems perfectly content with associating with her former bullies, this may be due to her innate desire to avoid confrontation. Despite the current pleasant experience, she is still occasionally mistreated by others. While Ishida eventually decides to become more open and make more friends, his concluding encounter with his former friend and instigating tormentor, Shimada, appears and throws this conflict into confusion once again.
This chapter continues what has been a refreshingly unique and complex series. Despite what must be an ever-present temptation to center this series around romance, the author has kept the focus on the protagonist. Ishida’s struggles are relatable for many who were bullied during school, and it is this firm foundation in the real world that makes this story so engaging. This may be one of the best shonen series currently being published, and the growth of Ishida continues to be an excellently told journey.
Final Flash: A fascinating and good chapter revealing the internal struggles of the protagonist, paving the way for future character development.