It's hard to believe that I read and reviewed the first novel of the Cold series nearly five years ago. Though the second novel left me feeling dubious in regards to my expectations of the final novel, I can wholeheartedly say that Cold Fever was not a let down. This tumultuous final book begins with Tohru's reawakening after six years of amnesia to a chaotic world in which he is haunted by the widely beloved shadow of his former amnesiac self. The raw yearning for his foil of a self that he could never become again is what makes this novel so impactful. He is full of self-hatred, harsh and violent in nature in a way that lovers of romantic novels may despise. Yet I found the root of his violence, namely his childhood trauma caused inability to connect with others and the resulting starvation and bare loneliness, completely captivating. It's essentially Gardner's Grendel stripped of his existentialist musings and placed in the contemporary world of light novels. This is a degree of ugliness in character that prominent literature explores regularly, yet BL typically fears to tread. It disposes of the genre-typical superficial romances and instead portrays the raw manner in which this lost child-like man with such an unforgivable predisposition was able to find love with another human and ultimately his place in life.
Though the Tohru of the first novel was certainly more morally and societally acceptable, it is most definitely this emotionally scarred Tohru that will remain memorable for years to come. The prior novels merely served as the foundation as this novel was certainly the focal point of the series.
Fujishima is just as tragic if not more so. His love for a man whom no longer exists and the physical and emotional suffering he endures in repentance for his childhood crimes against Tohru is heartbreaking. Yet he continues to be remarkably strong rather than folding under as other submissive roles of the genre would typically. In a sort of emotional role reversal, Tohru is always the one breaking and Fujishima is the selfless strength supporting him time and time again. That Fujishima's suffering is only told through Tohru's observations of his body rather than through any glimpses at Fujishima's thoughts makes him a painfully beautiful enigma. Such a contrast between Fujishima's androgynous and weak physique with his emotional fortitude makes him the most compelling character in the novel.
However, the side story protagonists were not quite so memorable. Thus I found myself detached from the latter portion of the novel that explores their story once again. Although it was admittedly nice being able to see Tohru from an outside perspective some time after the events of the main story. His nearly tangible social growth as a character while still fundamentally Tohru in essence serves as a nice contrast to his usual sense of childlike starvation for human warmth in the presence of Fujishima.