Blue Box Volume 1
Blue Box by Kouji Miura tries to refresh two common manga genres, the sports competition and the school romance, by putting them into the same book.
Taiki plays badminton. He’s got a crush on the year-older Chinatsu, who’s on the girls’ basketball team. Her dedication and skills inspire him to vow that he will practice and work hard enough to make it to the national competition for his sport.
Meanwhile, he’s thrown together with her in unusual circumstances, providing plenty of mistaken moments at school as he attempts to keep his situation a secret. There are also scenes with them interacting differently in public and private.
A mash-up can be refreshing, but beyond this telling two kinds of story at once, I didn’t find much unusual or memorable here. It all felt very standard.
Like the plot, the art is adequate but not inspiring. I could tell what was going on, but the moments that needed emotional impact were instead rather generic, with a few looking unpolished. I get the impression they may have been influenced by art elsewhere, but I have no real reason for thinking that, just that they have that second (or more) generation feel, that this is what those significant panels are supposed to look like, combined with a certain roughness about them. Or perhaps it’s that they seem to have been overworked in some cases.
What I liked most about this book was a boy developing a crush on a girl because of her determination and accomplishments. A lot of shojo has the girl being aggressively normal, even shy, with no reason to stand out, unless it’s due to her cuteness. (There is a cute rhythmic gymnast supporting character here for that purpose.) Unfortunately, in later chapters, she falls too easily into the role of existing to encourage him in his competitive dreams. (The publisher provided a review copy.)