Review – Strobe Edge


Strobe Edge by Sakisaka Io

Summary (from MangaReader):

Ninako is a meek, gentle high school student. She has never been in love. Ninako asks Daiki, who has emotions towards her, about what being in love feels like. She thinks he is a good guy but…? One day, on the train home from school, she bumps into Ren, a popular guy at school. With just a short conversation and his smile, she experiences a new feeling. Just what is this feeling…!? Ninako’s first love is starting!

Review:

First, off, I don’t really understand why this manga is called “Strobe Edge”. It’s a nice, heartwarming shoujo manga, but the title makes it sound like more of an action series. When I hear “Strobe Edge”, I somehow end up imagining Air Gear in my head…

Anyway.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by this manga. With a title like Strobe Edge, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but it ended up being surprisingly readable. Mind you, it’s no masterpiece, but that doesn’t stop it from being a decent read, and I ended up being pretty emotionally invested in the characters by the end, hehe.

Ninako, the heroine, starts out as a pretty bad airhead by the start. I don’t know WHY shoujo mangaka always LOVE airheads so much, but this aspect of her seems a bit forced. Really, there’s a better way to create good character than by resorting to normal tropes…SIGH. However, Ninako’s innocence seems anything BUT forced. Although I was suspending disbelief by how clueless Ninako was about romance at the start of the manga, I had to remind myself that this was her first time supposedly “falling in love”. And yes, this is a VERY common theme in shoujo manga, but it seems really genuine here. By the second half of the series, Ninako’s airhead personality is almost gone. Yes, she’s still a bit clumsy and not booksmart, but she’s a lot more emotionally aware, which I appreciated.

The male characters start out in the normal pre-established shoujo roles, but they end up transcending them as they start building (and breaking) their relationships over the course of the series, which was great. Both Daiki and Ren end up being very different people from the start of the manga. I love how they start off as semi-rivals (although it’s somewhat one-sided) to Daiki being grateful towards Ren for various things. (Spoilers, I will not tell). The eventual “male rivalry over the female lead” establishes itself a little later, which allows the characters and plot to grow on the reader without the story feeling stale.

Also, I LOVE how the author chose to let Ninako and Ren’s relationship develop slowly, rather than the opposite. In a lot of shoujo series, the equivalents of these two characters will end up together a lot more quickly. But by delaying the start of Ninako and Ren’s relationship, it allows the author to show how Ninako learns what love really is, and for Ren to learn how to become a better boyfriend. So by the time both of them are ready to date, they are ready for a stable relationship with EACH OTHER, therby avoiding the majority of the angst that plagues less developed relationships. YAY!

But although Strobe Edge managed to avoid a lot of the pitfalls many shoujo manga fall into, Strobe Edge still lacks memorability. Part of this is due to the fact that most of the characters of Strobe Edge start off as shoujo stereotypical fodder. And although they do end up surpassing these roles, the fact remains that this is NOT a firm foundation for a memorable manga. As for the ending, it was satisfying, but pretty predictable.

The art was decent enough, but there were times (especially at the beginning of the series) where it was definitely unpolished. The art style improved quite a bit by the end though.

Overall, Strobe Edge was well executed, but it lacks the originality to be truly memorable. Even with a formulaic structure, Strobe Edge still manages to be enjoyable.
Not too bad!

Score: 8.0/10

+ : Characters actually WENT somewhere, relationships and motivations were solid, not forced.

– : Overly formulaic.

 

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