High School Debut 10

May 26, 2009

I was a little lost at the beginning of this volume, but only because I didn’t realize I missed a volume since the last time I read the series.  The story picks up in the middle of some kind of bet between Yoh and an admirer of Haruna, and apparently they were settling the score at the school festival.

Now, I tend not to notice these types of plot devices (ie the sports festival) when I read a story from the beginning and get caught up in the characters, but for these series I’m spot-reading, I’m always a little bummed when a school festival or play happens.  It wasn’t such a big deal in this series, since there’s not a lot of hoopla surrounding the setup of the festival and the events and stuff, and most of the focus is just on Yoh’s competitions.  There’s also an ouendan segment, and that made me smile, so I can’t be too mad.

Haruna still strikes me as kind of shallow, since most of what she does in this book is cheer Yoh up by being happy and not much else.  I like her a little since she is such a positive person, and again, I like this series a lot because of the strong, non-dramatic bond between Yoh and Haruna, something you don’t often see.  I got to see a lot of them in this volume, and I was pretty happy with the book as a result.

In addition to the sports festival where Haruna cheers for Yoh, there’s also a short segment where Yoh winds up visiting Haruna’s house and spending the day with her family.  The one thing about Yoh is that he always seems mildly uncomfortable no matter where he is or what he does (this might have something to do with the fact the characters in this series are drawn in a way that makes it look like they have bags under their eyes).  During the scenes with Haruna’s parents, it’s hard to tell how he’s reacting and whether he’s enjoying the family normalcy or whether he is being made extremely uncomfortable.  He mentions later that he was nervous the entire time, which does explain it, but it’s almost painful to watch him looking so uptight the entire time.  The creepy scene where Haruna’s dad comes to talk to him while he’s bathing also doesn’t help much.

Later, there’s more creepiness when a girl at Yoh’s prep school latches on to him because of his good looks in order to tell him off whenever she sees him.  The girl is sort of unpleasant to everyone, including Haruna and her own brother, but as she starts to see how Yoh deals with other people, I… think she becomes attracted?  There’s a weird point of contention late in the book, and it’s possible the girl is in love with Yoh, but that’s a cliffhanger for next time.

It’s not a fantastic-must-read just yet, but it is better than average, and quite fun without laboring over cliches.  I’ve read less of it than some others, but it’s probably still my favorite among the shoujo series I’ve been trying out from Viz lately (well, I liked Baby & Me better, but  I don’t think that one counts since it’s not really a contemporary of things like High School Debut and Monkey High, they’re different stories and it’s difficult to compare the details).

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

High School Debut 8

March 26, 2009

Here’s another one of the high school romances from Viz.  I think the reason I didn’t initially pick any of these up was because the stories all ran together and they sort of came out at the same time.  But another good reason is that I probably knew somewhere, in the back of my mind, that I would secretly like all of them, and I really read too many series as it is.

I was under the impression that this series was more of a straight high school romance than, say, something like Beauty Pop (about the stylists) or Hana Kimi (which has the sports elements).  I was right, since the initial plot of the series was mostly just about Yoh teaching Haruna how to blend in at high school better with the inevitable romance following.

I was actually quite put off by the beginning of the volume, which started out with a handful of admirers of both Yoh and Haruna following the latter around, and an accidental kiss happening as a result.  Not only was the kiss itself totally unbelievable, Haruna’s reaction was totally out-of-proportion, and it drove me crazy waiting for the issue to be resolved (and I’m glad it was, I was a little worried it would drag out and become a huge drama point).  Yoh’s solution to the problem was probably worth sitting through the story though, it was actually kind of clever.  Unfortunately, it did leave me with an unpleasant impression of Haruna.

The second story was much better.  It was about Yoh agonizing over what to get Haruna for her birthday.  Initially he agonizes because she tells him to get her “whatever,” with no hints.  Then he agonizes because the things that Haruna tells him she wants are really embarassing.  The eventual birthday date was totally awesome and understated though.  Usually these things are fancy and elaborate, but it worked out how you can imagine it might between two high school students, and the end of the volume was quite touching.

Yoh really makes things work for me.  He’s quite devoted to Haruna, doesn’t have an over-the-top personality, and I really enjoyed the fact that their relationship seemed totally stable and they were always on the same wavelength.  It’s rare to see a series with a steady couple, so I feel like I could really get into this.

So yeah.  Unfortunately, I found another one I’m going back to the beginning of and consuming as fast as I possibly can.  I just can’t resist this type of thing, and High School Debut is certainly far above average in the high school romance category.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.