Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Kazune Kawahara
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The Unlikely Yet Magnificent Captain Yoh.
People can change.
It just takes one traumatic event or a single unpleasant moment in life to turn a person into a bitter person who no longer even believes in love. For Yoh Komiyama that unpleasant moment came in the form of the “beads incident” that had turned him off love and made him a bitter young man who – by a miracle – took a chance on a girl who asked him to be his love coach. By another miracle, Yoh not only changed his way of thinking about relationships but he found love with a girl named Haruna.
People can change and, as we can see, Yoh has changed thanks to dating Haruna. While he’s become more open to all the things that come with a relationship, some things haven’t changed too much and, as the homeroom teachers in their High school announce the upcoming Sports Festival, Haruna wonders how Yoh will feel about participating in an event that requires students to show school spirit in a lively way that just isn’t Yoh’s style.
The school activities that lead up to the Sports Festival involve students to break into two groups that include those that make banners and those who are rooters. On top of that, there’s also a little matter of the grade captains that are chosen to represent each grade. While Haruna is excited about the events, it is Yoh who is clearly uncomfortable with all of it. During the selection process, Haruna’s name comes up as a grade captain for the girls’ side but the honor goes to another prettier girl. Yoh, on the other hand, shockingly finds his name called to not only represent his grade but also the school itself!
Naturally, Haruna gets worried that Yoh will want to run away from his new duties he clearly does not want. Sure, she cheers him on with words of encouragement but can you imagine Yoh being the captain of a cheer squad? As I said, people can change and Yoh dives head in and begins researching past events and practicing. Of course, Yoh’s reluctance has the other grade captains questioning his involvement as a captain. Imagine Haruna’s reaction when she just so happens to hear them talking about Yoh that way.
Like past volumes, Haruna proves once again that she’s not only a loyal girlfriend but also a very helpful one that tries to aid Yoh as much as she can but there’s only so much she could do for him. It isn’t until the day of Yoh’s debut as a captain comes and surprises everyone including Haruna … he even wins over those who doubted him. It is definitely a great moment for Yoh.
Oh, but if anything, Volume 9 will be remembered as the volume where one of Yoh’s closest friends finally crosses the line. Normally, I would not mention who it is but readers who have been following the series since the first volume already have an idea who I’m talking about. Since the beginning, Asaoka has been the kind and smiling friend who always lend a hand. Since the incident in a previous volume, he hinted that he might even like Haruna. Well, in Volume 9, Asaoka makes his intentions known to Yoh as Asaoka so happens to “just show up” at all the right moments when Haruna needs help.
This time around, though, Yoh makes sure he gets a straight answer out of his friend. The outcome of their conversations leads to Asaoka making Yoh a most interesting and competitive wager that involves Haruna. I won’t go into the details but I will say that it will make you look forward to the actual Sports Festival events in the upcoming volume. We also get a look into what Asaoka thought of Yoh when they first met in Junior high and a peek into his real feeling for Haruna in the last chapter. Things might just turn a bit ugly after all of this.
Volume 9 of High School Debut reaches a very promising twist in the series as a friend becomes a rival and a young man proves love has changed him. While not as funny as most volumes in this series, Volume 9 is still a delightful treat wrapped up in a surprising little package. I know we say this often but we definitely cannot wait for the next volume.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Yoh is clearly the star of this volume and it’s a refreshing change of pace that makes this volume really stand out nicely. In preparation for the upcoming Sports Festival, Haruna finds herself cheering Yoh on as he takes on a role she knows he doesn’t like but accepts anyway because he really has changed. In the end, somebody close to Yoh proposes an interesting contest.
The art has improved greatly in this series. I know I said that Kawahara got a bit lazy in a few volumes but she totally redeems herself with this volume.
With three volumes left in this great series, High School Debut gets even more interesting as an unexpected love rival makes his intentions known in the final chapter of Volume 9. Surprisingly enough, the school’s upcoming Sports Festival places Yoh in a position that actually impresses everyone in their school and makes Haruna proud. This is definitely yet another fun volume.