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Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Strobe Edge Vols 1 & 2 by Io Sakisaka

Burn baby burn! - Disco inferno!
Burn baby burn! Burn that mama down

Sorry, got lost in the 70's with this week's manga selection, Strobe Edge by Io Sakisaka. What does that mean anyway, "Burn that mama down"? Sadly, this title was very misleading as it has nothing whatsoever to do with disco or even roller skating which is what I associate strobe lights with.

This series so far doesn't have anything to do with lighting at all, strobe or any other kind. I scratch my head. Sometimes I wonder where they get the titles from.

Confusion related to the misnaming of the series aside, I was pretty excited to get a new series from Viz which now seems to be the premier manga publisher with Yen Press, Kodansha, Seven Seas, Dark Horse and DMP hanging on by a thread. For me, I find the best shojo comes from Viz and this series is not disappointing so far, but let me fill you in.

Alison Can Read started a weekly Manga Monday meme which I have jumped on. I've been reviewing manga from the start, but it is nice to have a place were like minded Otaku can meet and share our favorites. Currently Alison is running through and reviewing one of my favorite mangas, Skip Beat, so check it out.

Book Description (From Amazon):
Release Date: January 1, 2013 | Series: Strobe Edge (Book 2)
Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart!
What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world...

Once Ninako realizes that she’s fallen for Ren, she confesses her feelings to him even though she knows he has a girlfriend! Meanwhile, a new semester brings an outgoing guy called Ando into Ninako’s life—is Ando just an outrageous flirt or will he turn out to be Ninako’s savior?

Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences.

My Review:
In the words of the manga regarding volume 1: "I wrote Strobe Edge because I wanted to craft a story that illuminated some specific emotions that everyone has. I wanted to draw the sensation you feel in the window of time between one event and another. In a single moment, people think about all sorts of things. We may never put them into words or write them down, but we feel the sensation of them flying through our minds. I thought that perhaps by examining that sensation and teasing it out here, readers will be able to sympathize with it."

Regarding volume 2: "I always think that the "sparkles" of every day life - those precious moments - are incredibly beautiful, so I want to capture as many of them as possible. But those fleeting moments are usually well hidden, so unless I really make sure to have my feelers out, I can miss them entirely. So it's very exciting when I do notice one! Yes!

With Strobe Edge, I'm hoping to portray those "sparkles" and share the thrill of discovering them - that moment of "Yes!" - with all of you."

I always read the authors intro, but I don't think I have ever read one that has got me thinking so much. It's interesting to me that Io Sakisaka is trying to capture a sparkle,a moment, a thought, a feeling in a moment of time.

Ninanko is vulnerable and pretty naive. She's oblivious to the opposite sex, has never shown interest in boys and seems pretty clueless. Her best friend is Daiki, who happens to be in love with her, but he won't tell her. She can't see it, but everyone else does. All her classmates think it is just a matter of time before she and Daiki become a couple, but she just says they're friends.  Her classmates won't be dissuaded in their fantasy and talk as if she and Daiki are already a couple.  Her one big flaw, though, is that she seems far too swayed by what other people say.

As an example, as volume one opens up, her mother has sent her to the sore with specific instructions on exactly what to buy. She gets caught in the shop owners snare as she eyes a juicy looking red apple.  AS she continues looking, he tells her, "These apples taste amazing!" So she buys one. When she gets home, she gets in trouble from her mother for buying something that was not on the shopping list. Her mother asked Ninako if she got a sample. Of course, she did not, she just bought the apple on hearsay and that basically sums her up. She believes everything people tell her almost as if she is afraid to have an opinion of her own or she doesn't trust it.

So, when Ninako's classmates ask her if she likes Daiki, she tells them that they went to the same middle school, they get along, he's nice and fun to be around and she doesn't dislike him. So the girls convince her that means she likes him. Surprised by this revelation, she takes them at their word and seems confused that she obviously has romantic feelings for Daiki when she didn't even know. She even goes so far as to say she wouldn't have known she was in love if they hadn't told her. Pathetic, right?

Still, there is something very real about Ninako. She is innocent and through her eyes, we get a glimpse into our own past. How we felt when we realized we liked a guy for the first time, how we felt when the idol walked the halls of the school, the one guy that we got up for every morning and couldn't wait to see, even if he never acknowledged us. That innocence is so precious and magical and is captured wonderfully here.

Daiki is handsome and a really nice guy and he is absolutely crazy for Ninako. He doesn't want to push her, though, because he doesn't feel she's ready for a relationship. But he starts to question his tactics as Ninako becomes aware of the resident pretty boy all the girls are crazy for. Can he afford not to say anything now? Or should he just go for it before it is too late and someone else snatches her up?

Ren is the resident hottie. He is in the same grade as Ninako, but in a different class. Every morning when he walks by her class, all the girls stop to watch him and then spend their remaining free time gossiping about him before class starts. Numerous girls have confessed their feelings to him and he has turned down every one. So of course, he is the center of all the gossip. Why doesn't he go out with any of them?

Ninako is taking the train home one day and she realizes that Ren is on the same train as her. He has fallen asleep and almost misses his stop. When he gets up to rush out at the stop, he catches her cell phone on his messenger bag and accidentally steps on her phone charm. He apologizes and offers to buy her a new one, but Ninako assures him it isn't necessary.

He buys one for her anyway as a replacement. After that, they keep bumping into each other, they talk and eventually become friends.  She never sees him talking to any of the other girls at school and she starts to feel hopeful, realizing she has fallen in love with Ren.

Daiki, realizing her interest in Ren has grown decides he can't wait anymore and he confesses his feelings to her. One of their classmates knowing Ninako has a crush on Ren confesses her feelings to Daiki. Ninako confesses her feelings to Ren and what about Ren? It's girl loves boy loves girl loves boy loves? Well, I'm not telling. 

And volume two intriduces yet another character in this string of unrequited love.  Ando is the new kid who went to middle school with Ren.  When he realizes Ninako likes Ren, he just can't stop teasing her and getting in her way at every opportunity.  But does he really like her? 

Volume 1 is all about Ninako's discovery of her feelings and what it really means to her to finally understand what it is to like someone and not just believing other people. Volume 2 is about keeping hope in your heart when it seems there is no hope at all. The hearts wants what the heart wants. You're head can tell you otherwise, but ultimately it is going to make very little difference.

This is sweet story of first love and I am really looking forward to the next installment which is due out March 5.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating love triangle or is it a love rectangle? Who's the guy on the cover of Volume 2? He's really cute. I'll root for him :-)

    1. Vol 2? That's Ren. He's my fave so far. I'll tell you, though, this series is developing so many angles it makes my head spin. Still, it's been a while since a new series came out I have been excited about. I have my old stand bys, but this ones new and shiny. Can't wait to see where it goes.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. The manga sounds adorable except the romance angle could get complicated very quickly. Gosh, there's so many love interests to keep track of! Who are you rooting for?

    1. I would love to see Ninako end up with Ren. I don't want to spoil any of the plot, though. I just hope this doesn't turn into a story like a British period film where everyoine ends up miserable and no one gets what they want (with the exception of Janes Austen, of course). Can't wait to see where this one is going.
      I'm glad you popped in for a visit!

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  4. I read the first few chapters of Strobe Edge but since the the chapters come out slowly, I eventually forgot about it. But I am definitely going to go back to it now. With the way you reviewed it, it seems I will relate well with this manga. I am a person who loves all the "fuwa-fuwa" and "kira-kira" feelings. And I also am easily persuaded by others. I've been in the same predicament as Ninako because I thought I liked somebody because my sister told me I probably liked him. It ended miserably. Haha. So yeah, definitely going back to this.

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Following back <3 Can't wait to talk books and mangas and maybe even crazies. Maybe. =))

    Gellie@ A Discombobulated Balladry

    1. I think the thoughts and feelings of this manga can be related to by a large population of people, whether they want to admit it or not. There's a lot of titles I have been reading over the years and a lot I have enjoyed, but they can't all be favorites. I think this one may be one of those titles. I'll just have to wait and see. I would suggest giving it another try and see how you like it.
      Thanks for stopping by, Gellie! It's always great meeting new friends and I do love talking manga.

  5. I love Strobe Edge! I have yet to read volume two but I really liked the first one. I thought it was a little too cliche but then there was the twist with his girlfriend and I was hooked again.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    1. Well, wait for the twist at the end of volume two. I certainly won't spill the beans, but it definitely left with the "Huh!" feeling. The problem with shojo is that for the most part, it is fairly predictable, but for me, that is one of the things I like about it. I always assume the heroine is going to end up with the hottie, but there's always the angst from the bumps and twists and turns until we get to the end. ANd there are always those occasions where things don't turn out the way I would like.
      Thanks for the chat!

  6. This sounds so cute(: I have to read this! Thanks for stopping by!

    Followed back(:


    1. It is very sweet, at least so far. One of the things I like about manga is that the books are short and don't take a lot of time, so it's not a huge investment of time to read a volume if you find out it's not really you're cup of tea.
      What I really liked about Ninako is how clueless she is and I can identify with that on a personal level.
      I hope you giove it a try and I'm really glad you came by for a visit!