Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Strobe Edge Vol 1

What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world...

Strobe Edge is the first contemporary shoujo (girls' comic) manga I've read in a long while.  And it shares similarities with my last shoujo manga, Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You) in that it has a naive, somewhat gullible main character feeling the first pangs of love and not quite understanding what it all means.

Both series are of course more than this.  Kimi ni Todoke explores not only first romances, but friendship turned to romance, your first friends, high school's many pratfalls and what it can be like to be an outsider (whether in love, friendship or just a classroom full of students).  Strobe Edge, in the first volume so far, hones pretty close to our main character Ninako Kinoshita dealing with the unexpected development of feelings for the school idol, Ren Ichinose.

The first volume follows Ninako as her friends aggressively pressure her into believing she is in love with her long time male friend Daiki, Daiki's obvious crush on Ninako and then the blossoming feelings Ninako has after each encounter with Ren.  Ninako sees a different side of Ren that most others don't.  Ren for his part is basically a decent guy, kind of aloof, but not in an arrogant way who seems to prefer his own company (for reasons of his own) for the most part.  His interactions with Ninako involve his showing her kindness and understanding.

Pretty standard fare for shoujo heroes basically.  Going in I knew this was a lot slower then I'm used to (since I've been reading a lot more 'action-y' series lately), and I wasn't too bothered.  This isn't the slow meticulous pacing of say Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story (which is ponderously slow due to the insane amount of detailed research put into something as small as a hand gesture), but the slowness of life.  Big 'moments' for Ninako are the nervous feelings when she sits close to Ren or the realization that she can't be false towards a friend.

The artwork is clean, the boys are pretty, the girls all look much the same (at least for the ones who are important to the story).  I basically enjoyed this manga, but as its the first volume it just felt character intro heavy.  I'm looking forward to the second volume in hopes that something happens.