High School Debut Volume 5
Transfer student Leona is both beautiful and good at sports. She manipulates her way into sitting next to Haruna, who can’t figure out why Leona keeps following her around and staring at her. As expected, it turns out they have history together, although Haruna’s too busy living in the present, planning a snowboarding trip with Yoh, to care about the past in High School Debut volume 5.
Although drawn by Kazune Kawahara to be lovely, Leona’s expressions are frequently harsh, with almost-dead eyes, which makes her rivalry with Haruna even more creepy and menacing. It’s unusual for Haruna to be in the position of being envied; previously, it was the other way around. And it’s darn funny how, after Haruna notices Leona’s venom, everyone points out that they knew about it already. Once again, Haruna is happy and accepting in being oblivious.
That’s what sets her apart from her rival. Leona superficially resembles Haruna: they’re both good at sports, especially softball, but they’re both now paying more attention to their looks and dating. When it comes to attitude, though, they’re only alike in their determination. Leona will stop at nothing for revenge (and isn’t it an odd convention of shojo that rivals are willing to go so far as to risk someone’s death to get what they want?) while Haruna is a creature of positive action, working hard to achieve something instead of trying to prevent someone else’s accomplishment.
The reason I enjoy this series so much is that, even in its most dramatic relationship moments, there’s a good amount of comedy. Haruna’s panic at sharing a blanket with Yoh is the kind of fear that anyone in love has experienced, and their reactions are really funny. Plus, their role reversal — Haruna jumps into action to save Yoh — is refreshing, especially since it’s not treated as a behavior pattern that has to be fixed. Instead, it’s accepted as who they are.
Unfortunately, in the second half of the book, we learn that young love doesn’t run smoothly. Haruna starts with the best of intentions, fixing up two friends of hers, but she should have listened to them when they said they weren’t really looking for anyone to date. Although the story was so gripping that it had me flipping pages as fast as I could to find out what happened next, and I wasn’t happy to see Haruna and Yoh at risk — as they say, no good deed goes unpunished — it was significant to learn more about Yoh, especially the flaws that make him less than perfect.
I really love this series! (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)