by Rie Takada; adaptation by Janet Gilbert
published by Viz; $9.99 US
I expected to enjoy this book much more than I did. The ingredients sounded very promising — tomboy falls in love with aloof boy when their previously same-sex schools are integrated — but the recipe didn’t come together. I don’t have any enthusiasm to read further, because the characters are often flattened into stereotypical roles.
The lead, Hanabi, is an active girl who’s happy to stand up to perverts and bullies. When all the other girls in her school are busy falling in love with Yoshitomo, the new student body president, or Yasuaki, the vice-president, Hanabi’s the only one who can talk back to the boys. This is significant, because the guys want to keep a “no dating” rule in place, and the girls don’t. (The question of why a previously boys-only school has a rule against dating isn’t raised.)
The student council guys agree to waive the rule if Hanabi can get their three signatures. The president signs, because he’s not much of a personality, and another can easily be bribed with food. That leaves Yasuaki. Since the school is apparently right next door to a beach, he goes surfing before classes. He agrees to sign if Hanabi can ride a wave.
This sequence oddly reminds me of Frankie-and-Annette movies. Hanabi’s not a bad surfer, although she’s never done it before. Her wipeouts provide comic relief, and when a huge wave takes her under, Yasuaki gets to be a hero, reasserting his strength and superiority in saving her. His mouth-to-mouth resuscitation becomes her first kiss.
She’s infatuated, but he’s secretly afraid of girls, so the second half of the book follows her pursuit of him. There’s also a tennis competition and the risk of video game addiction. At times, it feels like the chapters come from different series, but perhaps that’s just because they’re so familiar in setup. Little is done with the more interesting situation of the blending of the schools, and the cast is quickly reduced to the three student council guys and Hanabi.
The boys are drawn in typically elongated style, with long, lanky bodies and narrow eyes and faces. They’re distinguishable primarily by hairstyle. Hanabi, in contrast, has a compact body and an almost clownish, round face with huge eyes that look like marbles. Manga readers may know the author from the Wild Act series, about a girl who stalks a movie star.