by Elizabeth Chan | staff writer
Ninako Kinoshita is an ordinary high school girl who enjoys doing ordinary high school girl things – like gossiping with her friends about the hottest guy in school, Ren Ichinose. Ninako and her friends constantly gush about Ren, but Ninako claims that she does it only to pass the time. But whenever she talks about Ren, her friends seem to stop her, saying she already has her childhood friend Daiki. While her friends tease Ninako, Ninako wonders if what she feels for Daiki is really what her friends say she feels — love.
Having never experienced love, Ninako wonders if what she feels towards him is really love. But no sooner than her friends tell her that she’s in love with Daiki, Ninako runs into a sleepy Ren on the train home, who accidentally breaks her cellphone strap. Ren apologizes, and the next day, he seeks her out to give her a new cellphone strap that he picks out for her. Ninako is extremely flattered, and becomes almost protective of the strap, though Daiki claims its not her style. Everyday after that, Ninako sees Ren on the train ride home and his kindness really gives Ninako a wonderful yet unpleasant feeling. Things take a turn for the worst when Daiki confesses his love for her and reveals a secret about Ren she didn’t want to know.
Io Sakisaka’s Strobe Edge is your typical shōjo manga. It’s rather ordinary school life settings allows for the reader to be more immersed in the complex love stories that usually drive it. There are quite a few love triangles happening within Strobe Edge‘s first volume, maybe even too many love triangles for the first volume of a series. It’s somewhat overwhelming to keep up with all of the characters and their relationships with one another so early on in the series.
It doesn’t help that Strobe Edge‘s style is extremely shōjo, leaving it little room for variation within the appearance of each of the characters. Though the guys are generally easy to tell apart (especially since there are only two of them and they have different hair colors), the girls seem to all blend together, which would be okay if the main character wasn’t also blending with the rest of the female characters in the series.
The first half of the volume was well-paced, but the second half seemed kind of a jumble of different things as if they rushed to fit all the extra information. A chapter talking about Daiki and Ninako’s backstory may be in store for later volumes, but I thought it would have been a much better fit in the first volume; perhaps in place of the last chapter in this book. It seemed like they had such a strong back story, enough for everyone to assume that they were going out, but we barely get a glimpse of their relationship before. Ninako doesn’t even know who Daiki’s sister is and it doesn’t seem like they even do the typical shōjo element of walking to school together or anything really. Their relationship seems pretty shallow and it makes it easy for the reader to brush Daiki off as a candidate for Ninako when he eventually confesses to her. It would have been a much more heartbreaking twist if the book had more on their backstory and relationship.
Though the ending of the first volume felt a bit rushed, if you’re a fan of shōjo manga, you won’t be disappointed! Ren is definitely a heart throb in looks and in personality. Even though the style is a bit generic, it’s still really cute and there are scenes that are drawn extremely well. Ninako’s personality is something a lot of girls can relate to so it’s easy to feel her emotions. Each chapter ends in a heart pounding cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more. The lack of explanation in relationships doesn’t leave an empty feeling, but rather a feeling of wanting to know more about the characters. The first volume really leaves a lot more to be told in the coming volumes, so there’s still a lot to look forward to!