Monday, June 16, 2014

Manga Review: Strobe Edge (Io Sakisaka)

Title: Strobe Edge
Japanese TitleSutorobo Ejji
Author: Io Sakisaka
Volume(s) Reviewed: 1-10 (complete series)
Publisher: VIZ Media
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Rated: Teen (kissing, minor sensuality, minor language)
Find It On: Goodreads


Having no experience in romance, the vibrant Ninako curiously explores the meaning of what "love" really is, and is surprised to feel a colorful range of emotions as she grows closer to the school heartthrob, the quiet yet gentle Ren, who also happens to be involved in a longtime relationship. With every intention of keeping her head held high, Ninako prepares to face the mental pain of this one-sided love that she had allowed to take root, facing a series of trials that would either contribute to her growth as a headstrong woman, or break her as it did with other girls. However, is this really a one-sided love?

*          *          *

Story: Strobe Edge follows a handful of teens, all friends in one way or the other, as they find love. The main focus was on Ninako, a normal, content girl who fell for Ren, a sweet boy who was already in a long-term relationship. After discovering the girlfriend was also really sweet, Ninako struggled to be happy with just being his friend. Meanwhile she was pursued by Ando, a former playboy who fell for her strength in the face of her romantic adversity. And then there was Daiki, the first to confess love to Ninako (goodness she was popular for an "average" girl!), and the story of him and his subsequent second love, Sayuri. We also follow the story of Ren's girlfriend, older model Mayuka (sister to Daiki - told you they were all connected), along with a few other friends and, of course, exes. But overall Strobe Edge was a story of love and redemption and, above all, happy endings.

I'm very picky about straight-up romances, but this one was perfect. I picked it up from the library on a whim and after reading the first two volumes I put the entire series on hold and waited impatiently for all of them to come in so I could binge-read the whole thing in one sitting. I re-read the first two volumes again and they were just as good the second time, and devoured the 10 volumes over a weekend. I think the best part about the series is that there are no unlikable characters - you root for everyone, even if that means rooting for two different people after the same person at the same time. Just like Ninako I couldn't even dislike Ren's girlfriend, she was so nice and Ren loved her so much. Love is a funny thing.

Characters: Ninako was so sweet and innocent and what a strength. Even as her feelings for Ren grew she never burdened him with them, respecting his relationship and their friendship despite how much it hurt her. She stuck to her guns no matter what anyone said and went with her heart, and it served her well. Ren was a sweetheart, quiet, somewhat insecure and adorably a little awkward. For all his apparent strength he was a little boy at heart and I can totally understand how Ninako fell for him. Ando may have been a player but he was insecure as well, although he had some impressive strength in other areas to balance it out. Considering the circumstances, I was happy with his ending. As for the rest of the cast they were very well rounded and I enjoyed following everyone's stories of love and friendship. You just can't help wishing you were a part of the group, they were so kind and supportive!

Setting & Art: Typical Japanese school, towns, and living situations. The characters were cute, no one especially gorgeous (especially the main girl, Ninako), which was the right fit for the story. The backgrounds were very simple and more often than not barely there, which allowed the story to flow uninhibited by any possible distractions.

Conclusion: Probably my favorite romance story/series to date, not only for Ninako & Ren but the other couples' stories as well, each so different yet equally heartwarming. I loved how the series ended, definitely happy for most but with the possibility of even greater happiness to come for all. I'm so glad my library collected the series and that I gave it a try - I'll be purchasing my own set so I can read it again and again!

1 comment:

  1. I will have to pick this one up. I've been out of the manga loop for too long. I need some good ones.