Manga Village

SA Volume 6

April 22, 2009

The Kokusen Academy Culture Festival is here and the Special A crew is making sure it runs smoothly. But chaos erupts when Kei’s grandfather tries to haul Kei off to London! Worse, when Hikari tries to intervene, she gets abducted! But the worst part of all is that amidst all the drama, Hikari is starting to realize her true feelings for Kei…

By: Maki Minami
Publisher: Viz Media – Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $8.99

This is another series with female protagonist that’s as dense as a neutron star with a love interest that is cold yet popular with the girls.  I suppose this isn’t bad if you don’t mind female protagonists that act like dumb blonds, but it really kept me from getting into the story.

Kei’s grandfather sends his assistant Aoi Ogata to bring Kei back again. He kidnaps Hikari, thinking if he can get her out Kei’s life by seducing her. Hikari’s obtuseness makes it easy, but Kei runs to her rescue. Hikari then tries to get Aoi and Kei to be friends again, but throughout this, she finds it hard to look Kei in the eye and doesn’t know why. When she finally does, it affects so that she does poorly in school. In order to stay in SA she has to do well in the Sports Day, but the other girls on the opposing team have other ideas.

Hikari’s obtuseness is essential to this title. So many situations wouldn’t happen without it. Hikari would never have been kidnapped by Aoi if she hadn’t been so clueless. Then Kei couldn’t come to her rescue and finally spark her feelings for him. Of course, she doesn’t realize that’s why she feels strange around him and can’t look him in the eye, until Kei says something about her having a crush on him.  Even then, she has to go into denial. She’s his rival, not lover.

This is where the title really started to lose me. It hadn’t won me over yet, but about two-thirds of the way in, when Hikari is coming to terms with the fact that she might in fact like Kei, she hears two girls talking. One is crying because she was rejected by a boy she liked, and says “The first one to fall [in love] loses.” So, of course, Hikari has to go straight back to rival-mode. She can’t lose to Kei, not even in confessing love. That crossed the line for me. I know it was in character, but it felt like the mangaka was trying to keep the status quo rather than letting the characters evolve.

Overall, SA isn’t a bad story. Kei is interesting, as he seems to be patiently waiting for Hikari to finally figure out that he loves her. The scene where he gets the invite for lunch with her when he thinks they are going to be alone together was cute, as he was uncharacteristically excited by it. But I have to agree with Aoi in wondering what he sees in her.

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