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Monday, March 31, 2014

Manga Review: Strobe Edge GN 8

Strobe Edge volume 8
Author: Io Sakisaka
Viz Media/Shojo Beat
184 pages
Ren opens up to Ninako, and her feelings for him escalate to the point where she wants to risk everything to become his girlfriend. But when she realizes that doing so might jeopardize Ren's friendship with Ando, will she go through with it? (Source: Shojo Beat)
Io Sakisaka's shojo series Strobe Edge is rocketing towards its conclusion, as characters realize their true feelings and new characters pop up to put a halt to all of that. In true romance manga fashion, Ando's ex-girlfriend Mao Sugimoto arrives - and she still has feelings for Ren, putting further strain not only on Ando and Ren's relationship but also Ninako's feelings for Ren. 
It's starting to look like outside forces will be keeping Ren and Ninako from confessing their true feelings for each other that much longer...

In the eighth volume of Strobe Edge, Ninako knows full well how she feels about Ren: she's in love, and being close to him is only exacerbating those feelings. Ninako tries to keep her feelings hidden but can she when Ren feels the same way about her? But because it's a shojo series, they can't tell each other the truth just yet. But Ren has become more in tune with his own heart, much to the consternation of Ando, who is still in love with Ninako. Their friendship may not survive their second year of high school, especially when Mao is around again.
I feel for Ninako in this volume, I truly do. She thinks she is doing the right and noble thing by sacrificing her own feelings to save Ren and Ando's friendship, and that her feelings would only burden Ren, who just recently got out of a long-term relationship with Mayuka. It's a cruel tragic twist that Ren feels the same about her, and that if they only talked it out, they might be able to work through it! Alas, this is shojo, and there's still some distance to go before that scenario is possible.
Speaking of Ando, I'm worried about him. He's in love with Ninako, he knows Ren is too, and he also knows that Ninako will never return his affection. He doesn't have a visible support system outside of Ando and Ninako. What will happen when his friends hook up? Hopefully, he doesn't go back to Mao, the woman who used him and broke his heart to get closer to Ren. You can't really blame Ando for being even a little bitter towards Ren, although the bitterness is misplaced.
Toda is a new character and he's totally fun. I adore Toda! He's loud and boisterous and energetic and klutzy - and he's exactly the kind of accidental friend Ninako needs to shake her out of her Ren-induced funk and get her in the cheering spirit. Too bad Ren is feeling pangs of jealousy over Toda and Ninako's after school cheer lessons. Don't worry, Ren, Toda thinks Ninako is an odd peanut girl! No romantic attachment at all!
I'm extra glad that we see Ninako's friends support her through all her issues and Ren-related problems. It seems that in more shojo manga than not, female friends are very absent and that other female characters exist only to give the main girl a hard time and make her look so much better in comparison. Eww! Ninako's friends, however, are lovely and sweet and the kind of people anyone would want in their corner during a difficult time.

Watching Ninako and Ren pass each other like so much lovesick ships in the night is enough to get me to tearing out my hair. Confess already! But their paths grow closer day by day, and with that their feelings for each other are coming to the surface. Whether true love will win out in the end remains to be seen.