by Ai Morinaga; adapted by Athena and Alethea Nibley
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.95 US
I’ve put off trying this manga series because of the title, but it really has nothing to do with sports, which makes it more fun. This is the first volume of the series I’ve read, so I apologize for not being clear on exactly who all the characters are or their relationships to each other. It didn’t get in the way of me enjoying the antics, though.
Hana’s in danger of flunking out of school, and her fellow club members (all boys) want to help, whether she wants them to or not. She’s only truly motivated when given good food as a reward, so her friends alternate between smacking her for being stupid and bribing her to study with snacks. Her lackadaisical attitude — she answers quiz questions by rolling dice made out of her eraser, which is creative in a demented way — drives them crazy, but it makes for great visual comedy as the characters react to and try to encourage each other.
The club also includes twins as members, and in the next chapter, they fall in love, so their friends try to help them meet the objects of their crushes. Next, even when supposedly going to an away game as a team, the group winds up chasing local treats instead of playing hockey. After that, it’s a haunted house setup which they somehow think will get their leader a girlfriend.
The club is clearly just a device to tell comedies of love and life among the school-age… and Ai Morinaga is quite skilled at the cartooning necessary to make them amusing. There are plenty of jabs at standard shojo manga conventions, like dressing up in another school’s uniform or makeovers or rushing to school with toast in one’s mouth. Morinaga is also responsible for Your and My Secret.
Even when the events are predictable — as in the chapter with the twins in love, where Hana messes up her reconnaissance mission — they’re still very funny. This is a neat, happy read if you’re looking for school comedy. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)