September 7, 2011
Masahiro Totsuka / Aguri Igarashi – Yen Press – 2011 – 14+ volumes
I wasn’t sure that this would be my type of series. I was even less sure when I started this volume and realized it was a comedy. But I started to see the charm a few chapters in, and I always appreciate a book that’s easy to get into.
I do like that this is a series all about kendo, especially since there seems to be so many girls involved. Kendo is something you see come up so rarely in manga, and when it does, it’s merely something a cool character is doing. But this series is about the kendo team, and this volume starts a new storyline where the kendo team is preparing themselves to be featured on the popular variety show “Burning Dash.”
The first few chapters, where the characters explain what “Burning Dash” is and we see how excited they all are and learn about the program, were difficult for me to get through. They are very humor-oriented, and the humor depends on you knowing who the characters are. It’s obvious that the characters have slightly more personality in this series than, say, K-on, where I got the sense after reading one volume that it didn’t really matter that much. It’s obvious that character stereotypes are still at work here, but there are a lot more variations, too. The anime geek, for instance, isn’t made the butt of everyone’s joke for not knowing what “Burning Dash” is. She keeps that to herself, and worries about how out-of-touch she is. One of the girls appears to embody the beautiful popular girl stereotype, but it seems like she only gloats when she’s complimented directly by a teammate, and even then the other girls are in on the joke.
After all this, the coach decides that this show is the perfect opportunity to get an errant member back on the team (I later realized this was the plot of the series, and I can’t believe it took ten volumes to get to this point). The errant member is one of the most naturally gifted kendo players the coach has ever seen, and he never got a clear answer as to why she gave up kendo.
The answer comes in the second half of this book. Having never read this series before, and even after being mildly annoyed by the first half, I was still pleased/creeped out by this explanation. It was really funny, and the writer does a good job of making the characters react appropriately all the way around. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who reads this series, but… yeah, it was pretty great. Perhaps I only liked it because it reminded me of people I knew in high school, though.
This is followed up by a pretty sweet chapter where all the teammates study together, then congregate in the club room. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.
Honestly, over-the-top group comedy like this isn’t really my thing, and I’m definitely not the audience for this book. I can appreciate that it’s one of the better series in its genre, though, and I got a big kick out of the second half of this book, so it’s doing at least some of the funny very well.
This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.