Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Kazune Kawahara
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The sweet and emotional goodbye.
High School Debut has always been a different kind of shoujo manga in that it’s romance was never too overly dramatic nor were the two love interests a clichéd pair that just went through the motions. What started out as an athletic girl who was clueless when it came to love and a love coach who has a lot to learn about being a boyfriend turned out into a series of comedic chapters of two young students learning how to love. It’s funny how it took 13 volumes of this series for both of them to realize how much they needed each another.
In this final volume, Haruna is still trying to wrap her head around the possibility that Yoh might very well be going to school in Tokyo and that they will have to endure the hardships of a long-distance relationship. Having finally found happiness with Yoh, the idea of being separated from him is painful. In the last volume, Haruna asked Yoh not to go and Yoh did not protest. While this act was so romantic, Haruna begins the think that holding her boyfriend back from a bright future is not acceptable.
So, mustering all her courage, our girl tells Yoh he should go to Tokyo and follow his career choice even though his absence in her life would be horrible. As it turns out, Yoh was indeed accepted to attend school in Tokyo and as Haruna cheers him on it is Yoh who begins to think that maybe he shouldn’t go and leave Haruna alone. In fact, he begins to worry about Haruna and imagines the worst, which is so unlike Yoh that its hilarious. In the meantime, however, an incident in the school’s gym makes Haruna realize what career path she wishes to follow after graduation.
Still, despite a tender moment between the young couple after a party Haruna for Yoh, Haruna convinces Yoh to go for it and the young man – more at ease – gives in and decides to go. In a surprising moment, Yoh asks his friends to watch over Haruna. In the meantime, though, the group decides to spend time together and go on a skiing trip and, for Christmas, Yoh and his sister Asami invites everyone to spend it at their place. It is here that Haruna finally meets Yoh’s mother, a woman who is clearly just as obsessed with Yoh as Asa. Their conversation is really one of the highlights, especially since it literally exhausts Yoh.
However, the best part comes when Haruna is chosen to give a speech for the third year graduating class. She has a hard time trying to come up with the right words and – in the end – gives one of the most touching speeches that impresses Yoh. It is in their moment together after graduation that Haruna delivers her other speech to Yoh and I have to say the look on Yoh’s face is priceless. It becomes clear that nothing – not even a long-distance relationship – could ever break the bond the two of them had formed. It’s these final moments that we get to see Yoh open up in ways that would have been uncomfortable in the past.
In the end, Volume 13 of High School Debut is everything you could ask for in a shoujo manga and, without getting overly sentimental or overdo it was the drama, the series takes its final bow sweetly and with a good sense of humor. We’ve seen Haruna and Yoh’s relationship in its highs and lows but in this last volume we realize that some people really were meant to be together from the very start.
“Don’t forget me.” Haruna says in almost a pleading manner in the final chapter of this volume.
Believe me, we will not forget you.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
As Yoh’s acceptance to the university in Tokyo is confirmed, Haruna is trying her very best to be supportive and letting him go. Yoh, on the other hand, doesn’t feel comfortable leaving her behind and sends some time with her and their friends before graduation. Meanwhile, Haruna gets to meet Yoh’s mother who is just as competitive as Asa. As the chapter closes, Haruna writes a graduation speech that reveals a side of her that brings out Yoh’s true feeling for her.
Kazune Kawahara has said that her art has had a lot of problems and I agree but it is – by no means – good enough that it does justice to the story. Her style is also original and that’s what really matters in the end.
Volume 13 of High School Debut is a fitting ending to a series that has so made a true fan of even the boys in this office and with good reason. As Haruna and Yoh say farewell to school and each another, their time spend in the final chapters is still sweet, funny and actually very meaningful.
COMPLETE SERIES GRADE: A+
A very few romantic-comedy shoujo series have that certain spark and genuine hilarity that High School Debut possesses and with a protagonist who you can’t help but cheer on and a collection of wonderfully well drawn characters, the series never disappointed. Kazune Kawahara is working on a new series but we will certainly miss High School Debut and remember it fondly.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media