by Io Sakisaka; adapted by Ysabet MacFarlane
published by Viz; $9.99 US
This school-age romance is rather predictable, but the characters are so charming that I’m left with a good feeling after reading.
I appreciate the way Ninako is so in touch with and direct about her feelings. Ando is pursuing her, but she’s clear that she’s in love with Ren. Even though he’s dating someone else, she’d rather be honest and not settle for someone else. And although Ando is considered something of a player and a rival to Ren, it seems as though he really cares about Ninako. He’s not trying to talk her out of waiting for Ren as a way of scoring points, but because he’s convinced she’s going to eventually be hurt by caring about someone who doesn’t return her feelings.
What the reader knows, though, is that Ren does care about her. As does one of their classmates, who’s gently pushing them into situations together. We’re shown how they’re meant to be together when, for example, Ninako is the only one who notices that he’s sick, because he’s putting up a good front for everyone else, but she knows he’s not quite himself.
Meanwhile, Daiki (the original third side of the triangle, who was paired up with someone else early on) is being talked into buying his girlfriend an expensive necklace. Their pairing is complicated by Daiki’s dad moving to get remarried, which causes disruption for Daiki, as he ponders whether to move with him. Daiki’s sister is Ren’s girlfriend, so that relationship is affected, too. This isn’t a volume you can jump into — I had to reread previous reviews to remember who some of these characters are — but for those following the series, this is a rewarding volume that deepens cast interactions.
Artistically, the figures are cute and expressive without being overly exaggerated, and there are enough backgrounds for us to know where they are in settings. It’s a smooth, well-paced read. The silent sections, as characters are surprised by how they feel simply being close to each other, are particularly impressive, since they provide key moments of reflection for both the characters and the readers.
Although simple in structure, Strobe Edge can be sophisticated about emotions and their ramifications. It’s a comfortable, reassuring read that I find myself looking forward to more with each volume.