March 16, 2013
Io Sakisaka – Viz – 2013 – 10 volumes
This series is still fairly cheery, but with a new love interest named Ando comes more drama. Ninako focuses really hard on staying friends with Ren, but Ando keeps interfering and embarrassing Ninako further. Ando is a player, and likes calling people out when they’re being shy, but it’s clear early on that he’s developing a crush on Ninako. Ren tries to speak to him about not playing around with Ninako, since she’s not like the other girls Ando picks up, but Ando counters back by telling Ren he needs to stop leading Ninako on and treating her nicely if he has no intentions of dating her.
This sounds a lot heavier than it really is, and most of the volume is still Ninako being herself, hanging out with her friends, and having fun with Ando and Ren. We get to meet Ren’s girlfriend and see the two of them together, and in a refreshing change of pace, she’s a really nice girl who gets along really well with Ren. Ninako can’t bring herself to hate her or think that Ren would be better off without her. Plus, since she’s Daiki’s sister, the two have common ground and get along really well.
I was sad to see Daiki sidelined so early on. I thought it would be interesting to see him trying his best to win over Ninako, but his role is greatly reduced in this volume, and he’s all but paired off with one of Ninako’s friends by the end. I doubt he’ll be playing much of a role anymore, unless it’s the big brother/best friend kind of thing.
One of the things I should say about this series is that Io Sakisaka has really awesome commentary. Normally I skip these, because they tend to be really depressing and repetitive stories about how the artist isn’t getting any sleep, how they never leave the house, how much weight they’re gaining, or something really funny one of their assistants said. Sakisaka writes a lot about her chinchilla in volume 1, and there’s a story in this volume about how she got to watch it give birth. Most of the columns are dedicated to her getting her driver’s license, which is still a fairly interesting story, but one of the last ones is about how she is a fan of towel blankets, and likes to have one around her shoulders at all times. When shoujo mangaka write interesting notes, they are always worth your time.
Anyway, this series is still all kinds of cherry and upbeat, and offers a few variations to the usual shoujo romance drama I read. Anyone looking for a fun shoujo series to pick up should definitely give this a try.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.
February 14, 2013
Io Sakisaka – Viz – 2012 – 10 volumes
I decided to try out a new series today in honor of the holiday, one that I’d heard a lot of good things about. I’ve been in a bit of a manga slump lately, but it’s still hard for me to say no to a really good shoujo manga.
Strobe Edge is great, actually. Ninako is a typical high school girl that crushes on the hunk of the school with all the other girls and has a boy that kinda has a crush on her, and she kinda has a crush on him. But it begins different than most, with a scenario where Ninako’s mother tells her she needs to think for herself more and stop letting people do that for her. Which lends itself to the story better than it would in most shoujo manga. Ninako realizes she crushes on Ren simply because everybody else does, and she believes it when her friends tell her that she should totally go out with Daiki, who does seem to favor her. They tell her she’s in love with him, and she believes it. But then she begins to ride the train home with Ren and have small, very kind interactions with him. When he becomes more of a person, she realizes that she really is falling in love with her. Unfortunately, Daiki notices.
It has the sort of shoujo manga twists in relationships that make reading this stuff so incredibly enjoyable to me, although I’d be lying if I said they were unprecedented. But despite my description, this series is fairly low key, and most of what I describe above is all exposition that happens in Ninako’s mind. She doesn’t say a whole lot out loud, or act on her thoughts since she’s still trying to sort them out herself. That it’s so introspective and doesn’t directly deal with relationships between others (at least, not in the first volume), made it a more unique flavor of shoujo manga. I also like that neither Ren nor Daiki is a monster in any way, shape, or form. Ren is a genuinely nice guy that likes to keep his distance from the hordes of ladies at school, and Daiki does really like Ninako, and seems to be watching out for her. He also admits that his crush doesn’t really have anything to do with her feelings, and not many manga characters can keep on after a revelation like that.
I also really like Sakisaka’s art. Her character designs and panel layouts are fun and very dynamic, and I love the way she designs the thought bubbles for Ninako, which you see a lot of.
Overall, a very fun series. Highly recommended! And happily, there’s a volume two already, which I plan on indulging in immediately.