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Manga review: ‘High School Debut’ (3-in-1) Vol. 1

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On February 4, 2014 manga and anime publisher VIZ Media released the first volume of a 3-in-1 edition of “High School Debut”, and they provided us with the opportunity to check out this slice-of-life/romantic comedy/shojo manga series from Kazune Kawahara.

“High School Debut” focuses on the life of Haruna Nagashima, a tomboyish girl who put all her energy into playing softball throughout middle school, when she wasn’t busy reading shojo manga. Now, as she enters high school she decides to stop playing softball and give her all towards a new goal, finding a boyfriend. The problem is, she has absolutely no idea what guys look for in a girl.

With no idea how to dress or act, Haruna is desperate to get a guy, any guy, to at least hit on her. After discussing her issues with her friend Mami, Haruna comes to the decision that she needs a coach, to guide her in the ways of catching a boy’s attention. Enter Yoh, a popular but often blunt upperclassmen with a reputation for being both cool and cruel when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex.

Originally, Yoh wants nothing to do with Haruna, but after a little pushing in the right direction from his sister, Asami, Yoh eventually agrees to help Haruna. He has only one condition for Haruna, she can’t fall in love with him.

Having never read the series before, the story of “High School Debut” was a little bit predictable, but it was told extremely well and the pace was just right. Even though I had a good idea of what was going to happen, I still found myself getting drawn in to the story and pulling for Haruna. It was actually hard to put the manga down once I started reading.

Haruna is a great lead character, though they portray her as not the best looking because of her more athletic frame (I thought she was cute) she is kind hearted and shy, but she also has a toughness to her, thanks to her tomboy side. The story is told in a way that both sides of her are shown well and even though she can be emotional, she doesn’t come off as weak, although she has some horrible taste in clothes early on. Yoh is also an interesting character, he is pretty much what you would expect from the lead of a shojo manga, cold and brooding, yet he also lets his caring side out every once in a while.

This first volume is an omnibus of the series and contains the first three volumes of the manga. Throughout the first three volumes, Haruna struggles to let go of the horrible advice she gets from reading magazines and her manga, while Yoh does his best to avoid losing his cool. Haruna also has a few firsts, she meets her the first type of guy she should avoid, she develops feeling for a boy for the first time and also experiences heart break first hand, which doesn’t sit well with Yoh.

Visually “High School Debut” looks exactly like what you would expect when it comes to the genre, lots of big eyes, blushing faces and beautiful, thin and tall characters. The series doesn’t have a lot of detail, but there is enough, and the facial expressions definitely get across the emotions, there are a lot of teary eyes.

As far as the text goes, it is large and clear enough to read, aside from a few panels, and the dialog boxes don’t get in the way of anything. The translations all have nice flow and everything reads well.

“High School Debut” was definitely a series that surprised me, I knew that it was popular, but I didn’t think that I would get as into it as I had. The characters are likable and the story has just enough high school drama to go perfectly with all of those awkward and comedic moments that you would expect from someone just starting to get involved with the opposite sex.

If you’re a fan of series like “Skip Beat!” and “Kimi ni Todoke”, then “High School Debut” is definitely another worth picking up. The 3-in-1 collection is also the perfect opportunity for fans of the series to pick up the manga in fewer purchases, if you didn’t get the individual volumes.

Score

4.5 out of 5

High School Debut (3-in-1) Vol. 1

Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat imprint)
Story and Art: Kazune Kawahara
Number of Pages: 544
Age Rating: Teen
Release Date: February 4, 2014

(A review copy of “High School Debut” (3-in-1 Vol. 1 was provided by Viz Media.)

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