Strobe Edge, Vol 2 by Io Sakisaka
I liked the first volume of Strobe Edge well enough, but I was hoping that the second volume would be a tiny bit more interesting, in order to justify my wanting to keep following the series. I wasn’t disappointed, as the second volume dropped the emphasis on the heroine Ninako’s naivety in favor of some standard shojo plot elements with an emphasis on the characters’ emotions and just enough of a twist to produce some unexpected moments.
Ninako is back at school after summer vacation, wondering how to deal with the fact that she confessed her feelings to laconic yet secretly super-nice heartthrob Ren on the last day of school. Ren turned her down nicely, mentioning his girlfriend. Ninako practices how to say hello to him and reflects that their first encounter will likely be as difficult for the rejector in addition to the rejectee. Unfortunately word of Ninako’s daring has spread and she is known throughout the school as “girl who confessed to Ren on the train platform.” Her friends try to comfort her, but Ninako finds a slightly unwelcome distraction in the person of Ando, a flighty womanizer who seems fascinated by her indifference to him and her continued love for Ren even after being rejected. The unlikely trio gets thrown together in doing some committee work for school, and while Ando might have a habit of trying to collect as many girls’ cell phone numbers as possible, he does exhibit some genuine friendship and sensitivity to Ninako when she’s placed in an awkward situation.
Strobe Edge isn’t the type of shojo manga that challenges conventions, but it is extremely well-executed. I couldn’t find anything to quibble with the artwork, and the pained expressions Ninako sometimes makes as she navigates the storm of teenage romance offsets some of the expected shojo prettiness. There were plenty of humorous elements too, as Ninako is initially embraced by a secret society at school that is comprised solely of girls that Ren has rejected. I continue to enjoy the fact that most of the characters are genuinely nice and sympathetic. A bonus story in this volume focuses on the way Ren and his girlfriend Mayuka began their relationship, and it was fun to see a different aspect of those characters told from Mayuka’s side. I wish more manga had side stories that served as a supplement to the main plot, as opposed to publishing unrelated short stories by the same author in the back of a volume just to fill it out. Strobe Edge is perfect comfort reading for anyone who wants to read a well-done shojo manga that keeps things on the light and fluffy side.
Review copy provided by the publisher.