Monday, June 16, 2008

Manga Monday: High School Debut

High School Debut (Volumes 1 - 3)
Kazune Kawahara
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This is an enjoyable shojo series that I picked up on a whim. High School Debut follows Haruna Nagashima, a girl who is just beginning high school. Her goal is to get a boyfriend like all girls seem to when they move on from middle school. She intends to put her all into it, just like she went all out for softball in middle school and was a great success. The only problem with her new goal is that she's awful at it. She reads the latest fashion magazines, buys the trendiest clothes and goes to the places where people meet, but no one approaches her, despite the hook-ups going on all around her. When she overhears a young man say that he knows what men look for in girls, she doesn't think much about her actions, or the consequences, and begs the guy to be her coach and help her find a boyfriend. The guy, Yoh Komiyama, happens to be the most popular guy in school and he really doesn't like girls - he finds them annoying. But after some prodding from his friends and sister, he gives it a shot and begins to coach Haruna on how to dress, talk and flirt, going so far as to text her instructions and words of encouragement on her dates. There's a really nice dynamic between all of the characters of the series, especially between Haruna and Yoh's clueless friend Fumi, and between Haruna and Yoh's beautiful younger sister Asami, who does some pretty amazing things to keep the series interesting. There's a lot of heartbreak and misery in this series, but there's also joy and humor. I found myself really proud of Haruna on several occasions and completely sucked into the circumstances she found herself in. Unfortunately, the series begins to lose its steam with the third volume when Haruna inevitably realizes that she has developed feelings for Yoh, despite his warnings against such behavior. While it remains interesting through the last volume to be released in America so far, the excitement of those two early volumes evaporates pretty quickly, perhaps a signal that the book has peaked early on. But I have faith that the creator, with the dazzling storytelling prowess she demonstrated with the two initial volumes of High School Debut, will find a way to revitalize the book even with the tension tapering off so severely.

1 comment:

Althalus said...

Well, if you've read v3, then you know how Haruna dealt with those other girls who harrassed her after she and Yoh got together. And how both of them had no idea what to do on a date, since neither had had that kind of relationship before.

That's only the start. There are so many more shojo-relationship-tropes that those two will have to overcome in their own charmingly atypical way... ;)