Strobe Edge Io Sakisaka
I’m just going to review this entire (finished) series because I devoured them all together and it’s too hard for me to separate out each volume, especially as the review part (as opposed to the plot summary part) would basically be a copy/paste job from one volume to the next.
All the girls at Ninako’s school are in love with the quiet and elusive (and totally hot) Ren, but he’s turned them all down. Ninako doesn’t get it, until she ends up next to him on the train home one day. They end up together on the train a lot and become friends, until Ninako’s feelings turn to something more.
Ren rejects Ninanko romantically, because he already has a girlfriend, but the two stay friends as she tries to quash her feelings. Meanwhile, Ren’s former best friend has come to their school and falls for Ninanko. She likes Ando as a friend, but can’t return his love.
I loved Ninanko. She was a little hyper and a lot of fun. She's a bit taken aback when guys like her, but not because of a "but I'm so plain and boring" thing we usually see, but more that she's been too busy being awesome and having fun that she hasn't really noticed guys in that way before, so she's a bit bemused that guys have been noticing her. but she's a great friend and has a good outlook on life--it's not hard for the reader (and her friends) to see why guys like her.
I also like that she actually liked Ren in a way we don’t often see. So halfway through the series, Ren and his girlfriend break up (for reasons I won’t spoil). Everyone tells Ninanko to go for it because now’s her chance, but she doesn’t, because she see Ren’s hurting and he needs her as a friend right then. She really did understand Ren (because they were actual friends) and her love for him isn’t selfishly focused on her--it’s genuine love for him.
I also liked the depth that Sakisaka was able to give to some of the side characters (something you can do over 10 volumes). There are a few bonus stories at the end of volumes that often deal with side characters or something that happened before the series began.
In her many intro letters, Sakisaka says she wanted to capture that heady feeling of falling in love and that moment everything could change (she called the series strobe edge because she compares the feeling to being on the edge of a strobe light, which I really like.) Overall, I think she really succeeds. The series does drag a bit in the middle, which is something I may not have noticed if I hadn’t been binge-reading.
One thing I noticed with this series that I haven’t seen with others* is that we get a lot of letters from the author--both at the start of each volume, but also some random sidebars. I thought it was a fun touch and a behind-the-scenes look at her process and life.
Overall, a fun series that I enjoyed. (Also, shout-out to Drea, who when I asked her which of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens I should read first, pointed me in this direction. THANK YOU DREA!)
*Not that I’ve read a lot of other manga, especially shojo, this just might be a new thing for me
Book Provided by... my local library
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