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Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Strobe Edge by Io Sakisaka

It is time to say farewell to one Ninako and Ren.

Strobe Edge is now over.

Since I haven't reviewed the books as I finished reading them, I decided to give a brief synopsis of Volumes 7 through 10.  Warning!!  There are spoiler alerts.  

 Here is how the story unfolds:

In Volume 7, Ninako is over the moon because the new school year has started and Ren is in her class. The class is all abuzz with the break-up news of Ren and Mayuka.  Ando is trying to taunt Ren into admitting his feelings for Ninako.

It is time for the class trip and the girls and boys have to pair up for the field trip. Realizing the girls will descend on him, Ren asks Ninako and Sayuri to join him and Yu.  Ando and Manabu are with Tsukasa’s group, so Ando is really annoyed about it.

Daiki is no longer in their class and Sayuri sees one of his classmates hanging on him. She witnesses what looks like Daiki kissing the other girl and she runs.  Yu catches up to her and we find out that Yu is her ex-boyfriend who broke up with her to date another girl.  Daiki clears up the misunderstanding, though.

Ninako still has feelings for Ren, but she realizes she can’t tell him. They are good friends and he seems relaxed around her, often smiling.  She’s afraid that if she tells him and he turns her down again, she will not be able to be close to him anymore.

At the end, we find that Ando’s ex-girlfriend has transferred to their school.

In Volume 8, Ando’s ex approaches Ninako and asks her is she likes Ren. Ando warns her to stay away from Ninako.

Ninako realizes if she doesn't tell Ren how she feels she can remain close to him, however, she will also have to watch while he falls in love with someone else.

Ninako tells her girlfriends that she really does still like Ren and that she wants to be his girlfriend.

Ren tells Ando that he is in love with Ninako.

Ninanko gets volunteered to assist with the Cheerleading for the Sports Festival and Ando volunteers to be near her. Although he knows Ren loves her, Ren hasn't admitted it yet to Ninanko.  Ando feels it’s no over until it’s over and things could change. So he clings to hope.

Ando’s ex-girlfriend approaches Ninanko and tells her that she is the reason Ando and Ren aren't such good friends anymore and Ninanko realizes Ren is the friend Ando was talking about losing. And she realizes Ando is the friend Ren was talking about being in a fight with.

Ando asks her again what he can do to get her to love him.  She tells him she’s not in love with Ren anymore, but that she can’t return Ando’s feelings.  She understands the friendship between Ando and Ren is important to both of them, so she decides to give up on Ren for both their sakes.

Since she feels she can’t tell anyone, she ends up telling Toda who is in charge of the Cheerleaders for Block B. They seem awfully chummy which now has Ren feeling a little panicked.

In Volume 9, Ninako finally confesses to her friends that she likes Ren.
Ren decides to confess to Ninanko, after the sports festival, but he’s afraid she might have fallen for another guy.

Ando’s ex-girlfriend, who transferred into their school is in the sports festival.  Even though she used Ando to get close to Ren in middle school, she confesses to Ando that she is actually in love with Ando, but he doesn't believe her.

Ren and Ando compete against each other to get Ninako’s attention.
Ninako decides she is going to tell Ren how she feels…again.
Ren tells her he wants to meet up with her after work so he can confess to her, but as Ando is walking Ninanko to the train station he gets beats up by some thugs while protecting her.

When Ren does finally confess, she can’t bring herself to accept him after what Ando went through.  She doesn't think it would be right.
Then in school she starts avoiding Ren because she just can’t face him.

In Volume 10, Ando has been thinking since he got beat up that Ren and Ninako are dating, having no idea she turned Ren down.

Ando decides to confront Ninako about it and tries to guilt her into going out with him.  He acts like a jerk to her and kisses her to force her to confront her feelings.  She realizes she was just protecting herself and she still loves Ren.  Ando makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives up on her telling her to go get Ren.

Ninako chases after Ren and finally catches up to him and she makes a very teary eyed confession.

In a bonus chapter, Ren learns that Ando kissed Ninako before they started dating and Ninako and Ren go on their first date.

What I liked about the series:
Well, it was predictable enough regarding the main characters. I rooted for them from the beginning, as I should.  So, I was not disappointed with the outcome.  I really liked the tangle of interpersonal relationships and who liked who.

It is a pretty standard plot of girl likes boy but boy is dating another girl.  What really made me enjoy the story was the characters.

Ninanko was just so charmingly clueless and naive, but she also cared so much about her friends that she was willing to give up everything she wanted if she could make other people happy.

Ren was really likable as the most popular boy in school.  He seemed unapproachable, but that was just covering up an underlying vulnerability that Ninanko uncovered.  It was adorable to watch him blushing and acting very unsure of himself. 

Ando was probably the funniest character in the series.  Sure, he was determined and persistent in his pursuit of Ninanko, but he was also really comical and often over the top.   He was a complex character in that he felt betrayed by his ex when she used him to get to Ren.  And while he hated Ren for it, he secretly missed their friendship.  Being in the same class allowed him to be open with Ren, at least about how much he couldn't stand Ren, but he was also keeping all his feelings on the table so there would be no misunderstanding on Ren’s part.  

And in the end, who really made the sacrifices?

This was just a really sweet story of first love with a cast of likable characters.  If you’re a fan of series like Kimi ni Todoke or Lovely Complex, you should enjoy this one as well.

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