Kodansha Comics Betsufure, 2005
Here is a little sci-fi shoujo manga for you! This two-volume series caught my eye because of the covers. There seems to be a lot going on in them, and it took me a minute to really see and appreciate the cute couple that is featured in the center of that glowing sphere there. It looked like there might be magic or something in it, so I picked it up. It turns out to be more sci-fi instead of magic, but it is a touching story. The artwork on the cover is so cute! The artwork inside is a bit messy and scratchy, but then there are some really nice scenes. Most of the shots of the boy, Gin, are rather delicate and pretty.
Surprisingly enough, this is also a sports manga, in a way. The story is set at a time a little bit into the future – things aren’t enormously different, but there are some obvious differences in advanced technology and computers. Our heroine is TOONO Aoba-chan, a very strong, enthusiastic, and dedicated schoolgirl. She is an athlete, and her life revolves around volleyball. Aoba is a valued and respected member of her school’s team, even though she is actually very short. She even says she was born to play volleyball! During a volleyball competition, it is obvious to everyone watching that Aoba-chan is the heart of the team. She really gives it her all and plays hard.
One person in the cheering squad is struck by Aoba-chan’s amazing team spirit and athletic drive. His name is Yamada Gin, and he accompanied their teacher along with the cheering group to go watch the game. He is amazed at Aoba-chan’s playing. He is in the same class at school as Aoba, but they do not know each other. However, he always seems to have his eyes on her.
Unfortunately, it is at this game that disaster strikes- Aoba-chan takes a hard fall and hurts her knee. Badly. She had to be taken off the court and to the hospital. She is crushed when she is told that she will need a lot of rehabilitation in order to use her knee again. It looks like her volleyball days are over- no chance at the Olympics for her. However, with the rehabilitation, she could get back to high school-level playing. But it will take some work.
Aoba takes this news very hard. Gin can see how depressed she is, so when it is time to sign up for events for the school sports festival, he decides to add Aboth his and Aoba-chan’s names to the list for volleyball. This shocks her, but this strange boy is so earnest about wanting to fight together, that she gives in. Soon she is whipping her classmates into shape at practices, coaching them for the competition. She helps Gin learn to play, and they become good friends. Gin is very cute and wide-eyed, and really seems to care about Aoba-chan. Aoba really likes Gin, and he becomes someone important to her and supports her.
However, one day Aoba-chan is shocked to find Gin unconscious on the floor of the library. She soon discovers his shocking secret that will forever change the way she looks at him. He has been such a good friend to her, but now… now… knowing this… she can barely look at him, much less be his friend. He is not who she thought he was, and it may be more than she can overcome.
Can Gin win her over? Will his secret drive her away forever? Can she accept who he is?