Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Kazune Kawahara
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $8.99 US
Release Date: Now Available
Maybe two opposites can make a positive.
In my last review, I mentioned that Volume 2 lacked in the humor department and fall into heartbreak (thank you very much clueless Fumi and rotten Asa) that made it kind of hard to see our favorite gal Haruna’s spirit sink in the middle chapters. Ah, but Volume 3 is another ballgame altogether and the series is back in full Volume 1 mode that made the first chapter such a warm, humorous and surprising shojo book with a lot to offer.
Haruna isn’t your typical shojo protagonist that is easily defeated even when things don’t go in her favor and from the last volume it is her determined spirit that changed her love coach Yoh from isolated hottie to a more sociable person. By the end of the second chapter, Haruna comes to the inevitable conclusion that the reason she’s not looking for other guys because it’s Yoh who she likes. Of course, there’s her pact she made with him in the park in the first volume that made Haruna promise him that she wouldn’t fall for him. What’s a girl to do when you made a promise like that?
Well, she can act all weird in front of him and try to avoid him and that’s exactly what Haruna does … to Yoh’s annoyance. Yoh suddenly suspects that something might be wrong with Haruna and tries to coax her into telling him what’s on her mind. Even when Haruna invites him to the movies after having won the tickets for winning a softball game, Yoh notices her discomfort. It isn’t until they walk past the very park where Haruna convinced him to be her coach that Haruna does the most unlikely thing … she fires Yoh! She figures if he’s no longer her coach she can dissolve the pact and make her feelings known to him officially.
Hurt from her rather brash dismissal, Yoh doesn’t even want to acknowledge Haruna’s existence. Her plan backfired but Yoh forgives her. The day they went to the movies, Haruna gave him a present she picked out with Yoh’s other friend Asaoka and that led him to believe that her firing him had a much deeper meaning. So Haruna shoves aside all her fears of losing Yoh, she tells him that she likes him and that she’ll chase him even if he shoots her down. Surprisingly enough, Yoh responds by telling her he’s actually happy that she likes him. I definitely saw this coming but it didn’t stop me from jumping out of my seat with a hearty cheer and startling everyone in our office. Good for you, Haruna!
Yet the following day, Yoh doesn’t seem to acknowledge the event. He seems the same as always and this frightens Haruna to the point that she thinks she dreamt it all. If it wasn’t for the necklace he gave him that night, she would have went on believing it was a dream. When she confronts him, Yoh confesses that while he’s had many female admirers he knows nothing about carrying on a relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend. A love coach that knows nothing about actually being in a relationship is quite funny, actually.
Word quickly spreads around their school that Yoh and Haruna are a couple and Haruna discovers notes in her desk calling her an idiot, her gym shoes glued to her locker and her gym uniform stolen. Passing down the hall, Asa notices that people slapped notes on Haruna’s back and she tell her that it is more likely that she is being bullied by the numerous girls that have been chasing Yoh. In one of the volume’s most memorable moments, the very girls who are bullying Haruna call her up on the roof of the school and exchange words with her. When they don’t seem to come to an agreement, Haruna rolls up her sleeves and throws down. Hilariously, Haruna comes out of the fight with minor scrapes after having thrashed the other girls that run away in fright. You better believe that the bullying stopped after that. God, I love this girl.
In the second half of the volume, the two go on their first date to the beach but it doesn’t really feel like a date. Yoh felt as if he were watching over a child who excitedly moved about the beach in a sort of daze. She’s so happy that she hilariously runs into a wall, almost gets hit by a car and loses her ice cream only to have Yoh give her half of his. Haruna comes to realize that the date didn’t seem like one and promises Yoh that the next one will be special. While inexperienced being a boyfriend, Yoh is sweet enough to ask Haruna for her shojo manga to learn more as well. “You’re not alone in this,” he tells her.
The second date doesn’t come out the way Haruna planned at all and in a most pivotal moment she is about to tell him that this is not working. Then somebody whacked a softball that was heading in Yoh’s direction when she catches it. It turns out that it’s a girl’s softball team from Haruna’s old Junior High and all the young girls on the team are surprised to see her. Yoh is pleasantly surprised how much the younger girls admire Haruna. At last, Haruna is the one that impresses him rather than the other way around. He tells her that things seem rather awkward but he’s willing to keep giving it a shot if she’s willing to do it too.
Yes, we saw this coming yet Kawahara somehow didn’t fail to surprise us anyway. The beauty of High School Debut, Volume 3, is that it just made us fall in love with the characters all over again. We’ve been rooting for Haruna since Day One and now we’re rooting for Yoh as well. If Kawahara manages to pull off more like this then you can expect us to keep us an eye on the awkward development of this fine romance.
Haruna finally lets Yoh know how she feels about him and score a homerun in the game of romance. Yoh might know what guys look for in a girl but he’s clueless about what happens when they do hook up. There are fights and there are dates. Whew, this one has it all.
Stylistically speaking, this third volume looks just as good as the first volume. There’s nothing wrong with the art in the second volume but it tended to use panels from the first more than once. It still very good, though
Ok, we saw the eventual hook up between Yoh and Haruna coming but Kawahara tossed us a curveball when the love coach himself is new to the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. The humor and appeal of the first volume is back in this third one so here’s hoping the series keeps it going.