by Mitsuba Takanashi; adaptation by Naoko Amemiya
published by Viz; $8.99 US
I was a bit stunned to see the cover on this installment of the series, especially in comparison to the first book. That volume showed a girl in traditional dress struggling to play volleyball, indicating a culture clash aspect that seems to have gone by the wayside. Now, it looks as though it’s sun, sex, and oh, yeah, sport.
The cover is a bit misleading, as advertising sometimes is. But it is true that the driving force has moved from Nobara fighting her family’s expectations in order to follow her dream (an aspect of the story I quite liked) to Nobara struggling to win competitions and figure out her feelings for certain members of the opposite sex.
Nobara’s been working as dorm mother (a mix of housekeeper and cook) for the boys’ team. One of their members has been quite supportive of her, giving her strength to continue fighting. Now, she’s met his girlfriend, a discovery that has shaken her more than she suspected.
It’s bad timing, too, because her small team is about to play their first tournament game. They’ve been matched against a very strong team, setting up the typical underdog battle so common to sports stories.
Much of the opposing team’s strength comes from their “superace”, a hard-charging attack player. I was surprised to note that, unlike the other round-eyed characters, she’s drawn with more typical Asian eyes. Given the contrast, it makes her look hard and almost mean, like she’s squinting to stay focused on her goals. It definitely sets her apart. Speaking of the art, I didn’t see any of the distracting glitches on display in book three, which is a plus.
It’s a shame for me that the book is growing in a direction that’s not where I’d like it to go, but that doesn’t make it a bad story, just not as much to my taste as I’d hoped it would continue to be. I’d like a little more family and cultural concerns to go with the volleyball matches and glimmers of young love. Perhaps I’ve gotten spoiled by some of the other series I read, where there’s cross-dressing and other complicating factors to jazz up the stories. A simple tale of hard work and competition isn’t as exciting to my jaded palate.