August 1, 2011
Hinako Takanaga – DramaQueen – 2007 – 4 volumes
There’s slightly more of the Morinaga/Souichi situation in this volume as Tatsumi’s little sister calls him back to Nagoya out of worry for Souichi. Souichi has been ponderous since Morinaga’s confession (unbeknownst to the others), and Kanako also spotted Morinaga kissing Souichi in the middle of a drunken stupor during a moment of weakness. Kanako suspects Souichi may be gay. Tatsumi and Kurokawa don’t know how to break it to her how terribly, terribly wrong she really is, especially without revealing the nature of their relationship.
In Challengers, the notion of Souichi being gay is indeed a massive misconception. But I love that Kanako won’t be convinced otherwise, even by a begging Souichi, and I also love that she seems to be the only character that completely ignores his terrible temper. Kanako has an awesome grasp of her brother’s feelings.
After this, Kurokawa and Tatsumi’s relationship is put to the test in a 3-part finale that includes such trials as having to choose between work and love and a woman trying her best to woo Kurokawa. The first chapter was funnier, but the finale is pretty great as far as Kurokawa and Tatsumi moments go. I loved that Tatsumi was mostly oblivious to the intent of the woman, even when she started coming over to their apartment every day with snacks for Kurokawa. I also loved the gentle way that Kurokawa had to break to Tatsumi that, yes, moving to America to work would probably split them up, and that Tatsumi hadn’t considered their relationship at all.
But Challengers is a sweet, light, and fun manga, and after an epic kiss-off scene from an unlikely character, everyone gets to be happy.
Well, everyone but Souichi. The scene where Kurokawa hangs up on him is one of my favorites in the series.
It sounds like the magazine that ran Challengers folded, and Takanaga was allowed to complete Challengers and then started The Tyrant Falls in Love due to what must have been Souichi’s overwhelming popularity. Takanaga admits at one point that Kurokawa, the main character, actually ranks third in popularity among readers, behind Souichi and Isogai. That sounds about right.
But now that you’ve finished this, go read Tyrant. This series was pretty good, good enough that I read almost all four volumes in one sitting. But it’s not nearly as good as Tyrant. Tyrant is amazing, but in order to understand it fully, you do need the background on Souichi and Morinaga that’s offered in Challengers.
EDIT: And apparently I can’t be bothered to remember the name of the character I love so much. Souichi, not Shuichi. Difficult to remember that, though, after all the “Sempai! Sempai!”