by Mitsuba Takanashi; adaptation by Naoko Amemiya
published by Viz; $8.99 US
Since this is a sports manga, here comes a key competition: Nobara challenges the boys’ team. If she scores against them, they promise to stop harassing her while she’s trying to rebuild the girls’ team.
The two other girls she’s managed to interest are wowed by her confidence, while a sympathetic boy chides her for her lack of patience. Both qualities are necessary to make her a viable protagonist and drive the story forward at a good clip.
The girls are underdogs for a lot of reasons: no practice together as a team, the boys are taller and have the blocking advantage, and the boys’ server is so powerful that the ball he sends at the girls is almost a weapon. The game is involving and easy to read, with key points of strategy reinforced by the observers’ comments.
Unfortunately, although the game makes Nobara’s drive for a girls’ team more visible around school, it also demonstrates how much hard work and determination is needed to succeed. She still needs at least three more members to field a team, and few are willing to commit.
One possibility is a young cutie who’s got a puppylike crush on Nobara. Another is Tomoyo, a former volleyball star who quit after an injury. She’s got very mixed emotions about the sport, especially since she used to go out with the current head of the boys’ team, a boy who may now have feelings for Nobara. In Tomoyo’s head, her place on the team is a reflection of other people’s love for her, and she’d rather step away from something she loves than risk being hurt again.
That emotional component, exploring what drives someone to compete or alternately, to avoid a struggle they find painful, is what makes this series enjoyable. I previously reviewed Book 1.