by Shizuru Seino; adaptation by Kelly Sue DeConnick
published by Tokyopop; $9.99 US
Girl Got Game was recommended to me based on its similarities to Hana-Kimi. It’s true, the premises are very similar — girl pretends to be a boy and lives in boys’ dorm, rooming with her love interest, in order to compete in a sport — but the motivations are very different.
In Hana-Kimi, the heroine was a fan of her roommate before she ever started at the school. She devised the plan in order to get to know him because she so admired his dedication to track and field.
In Girl Got Game, the heroine is forced into the plan by her father. He was prevented from playing in the NBA when he was younger due to injury, so he tells her to pretend to be a boy so she can achieve the glory he never could. As a result, she’s not motivated by her own determination, but by the inability to disobey her father. She doesn’t demonstrate enough of her own initiative, and I fear the overall arc becoming simply a transfer of her affections from her father to her love interest.
Given the preeminence of the WNBA these days, it doesn’t even make sense as a motive. (The book isn’t that old; it’s copyright 2004.) She’s known as a great female basketball player in junior high, so why should she need to dress in drag to play?
The other major difference comes in the relationship of the girl to her roommate. In Hana-Kimi, the boy quickly sees through the disguise, and as the two get to know and trust each other, he helps protect her secret. This is a more positive approach than in Girl Got Game, where the two dislike each other from the beginning. It’s obvious that they will overcome this antipathy as they get to know each other better, so I found the setup more predictable than I cared for. The art also seemed generic to me, and overall, the book lacked the charm I saw in Hana-Kimi.