Strobe Edge Book 5

I’m running out of ways to talk about how comfortable this teen romance can be, and how entertaining that is. It’s the comfort of tuning into a regular soap opera, where you get to ride the emotional waves with the characters. It’s relaxing, in a way, to escape into their concerns and then return to your own without any side effects.

Plus, there is an absolutely darling picture of heartthrob Ren in glasses, studying, when he’s interrupted by his girlfriend Mayuka. They’re bemoaning how hard it is to find any time together. She’s a model, and he’s doing whatever he can to be there for her whenever she can get a moment. The older reader will recognize that a relationship where one partner does nothing but sacrifice isn’t a truly mature one, and it’s not going to last. Particularly because lying to someone to make them feel better is still lying to them. That mismatch gives us hope for Ren and Ninako finally ending up together, but in the meantime, winter break is starting, which means no reason for her to see him, since they won’t be in school together.

Ren in Strobe Edge Book 5

Ren in glasses

Ando and Ninako go shopping for a Christmas party, which gives them some time to discuss their similar yet oh-so-different situations. They both love someone who’s in love with someone else — but since Ando likes Ninako and knows her feelings aren’t returned, he feels free to try and talk her into reciprocating his.

This manga is a bit talky, but that’s how all the emotions get conveyed and dissected. It’s a lot more fun reading about them from a distance of years and experience than it was living through these kinds of events when I was younger. And it is fun to watch these kids struggle to find their way through to love.

For a change of pace, Mayuka and her brother Daiki also have to cope with their father leaving their mother and moving away, a departure that only makes Mayuka feel worse about facing change. We don’t know much about her, but it’s still a pleasure to see the mature decision she makes late in the book, painful as it is. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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