My Top 5 Favorite Tokimeki Title Pages

Futaba side story, part 2

I'll be honest about my priorities with this list right off the bat: this is the only non-Ranze title page I've picked. It's not that I think Ikeno's art got worse after the finished the Ranze arc; quite the contrary, I think Ikeno's art had its (long) peak between volume 8 of Tokimeki and the serialization of Heroine ni naritai. She was amazing for a decade, if not more! It's just that I'm so emotionally invested in the Ranze arc that everything else gets blurred in my mind.

I've always loved this title page, which depicts Futaba (my favorite character of the Narumi arc) and the alien doppelgänger she meets in the two-parter side story. Ikeno often uses color spray in combination with cutouts of different shapes (stars in this case), but I think this is a particularly beautiful use of the technique, as she combines it with a gorgeous color gradient from red to green. Futaba being in red and her doppelgänger being in green is no doubt intentional and symbolic, and the way the two figures are placed against a backdrop of space, with bright stars and a galaxy, is dramatic in its simplicity. I think it's eye-catching and showcases Ikeno's sense for color and composition.

chapter 41

I love this title page because it's so unusual: Ikeno has drawn the close-ups of Shun and Ranze with a pencil, and they look much closer to portraits of real people than her usual, cute manga art, and it shows off Ikeno's skills as an artist as well as giving the piece a very dramatic and atmospheric feel.

The three Ranze figures on the upper right, I believe, are younger versions of her -- at this late part in the Ranze arc, she hadn't worn Mōri's vampire cape in a long time, and the expressions on the two other Ranze figures look lighthearted and playful. I believe the main Ranze figure at the left is reminiscing about everything that has happened to her during the three and a half years long run of the series.

41 is an important and emotional chapter in Tokimeki, in which old hatches are buried, Ranze and Shun reaffirm their commitment to each other, and the story moves towards a battle against the big bad where it's hinted lives may be lost. I think this is the perfect title page for this great turning point of the series.

chapter 28

This is the title page for the first chapter of Tokimeki after the big, dramatic storyline about Shun as the prince of Makai is resolved. It's a very comedic chapter after all the life and death drama the characters and readers have gone through, bringing the series back to its roots as a fantasy comedy, and I think this cute and fun title page is absolutely perfect!

Ranze posing as a teacher with her glasses is adorable, and so are Rinze and Peck as her students, sitting with their schoolbooks by their tree stump desks. The many schoolbooks depicted are lots of fun, with titles such as Delicious Makai Food, How to Pretend to be a Human, and The Human World and its Dangers.

It's surprisingly rare to see Ranze's hair painted ink black in title pages, probably because black is a difficult color to handle in color art, but I love Ranze's black, straight hair, so it's a pleasure seeing it here with a cute red headband. Ikeno uses her layered color spray technique again (which I also talked about in #5), and the fresh green gradient makes the piece vibrant and just plain fun to look at. I think it's the cutest title page of Tokimeki.

chapter 24

Ikeno sometimes uses silhouettes of trees to add a fantastical, mysterious feel to her art (such as in the Narumi arc here and the Aira arc here), and this title page is my favorite example of that technique.

Ranze and Shun are drawn as figures almost out of a fairy tale, or fairies that stepped out of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and combined with the glowing trees in the background, this piece has a dreamy quality and tells a story all on its own. I can easily imagine these two figures as the protagonists of a completely different story, like Ranze as a fairy princess or Shun as a trickster like Puck.

I also think Ikeno's color technique is great here, with Ranze and Shun's glowing figures looking like they're emerging from the night, ready to fade and disappear again into whatever world they came from. It's very fantastical and beautiful.

chapter 52

I was going to pick either this or the title page of the last chapter of the Ranze arc as my absolute favorite, and I ended up picking this one because I'm such a huge shipper of Ranze and Shun. Look at them smiling at each other! Look at them holding hands! Look at them being happy! Look! LOOOOOOK! This title page just makes me happy every time I look at it.

52 is another pivotal chapter of Tokimeki. I won't spoil it here, but it's the start of the absolute biggest climax of the Ranze arc, and the story is one dramatic scene after another from here on until the conclusion in chapter 58. The title page of chapter 58 (with Ranze and Shun standing together against a red background, and all the important characters surrounding them) is great as well, but I associate this title page with the climax and subsequent happy ending of the Ranze arc more than I do any other piece of art.

I also think there's beauty in its simplicity of composition and color use: just the two lovers, against an almost plain background of yellow autumn grass and leaves. What leaves an impact is their expressions, and the emotions we as readers have already invested in their happiness. This piece wouldn't have worked as well earlier on in the series, but at this point in the story, it's exactly what we wanted to see. We don't need anything more.