Blue Box Volume One introduces the reader to the series’ main characters: Taiki Inomata and Chinatsu Kano.
Blue Box Volume One
Written by: Kouji Miura
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 1, 2022
At the beginning of the volume, we are introduced to third-year middle school student Taiki Inomata and first-year high school student Chinatsu Kano. They’re both athletes at their combined middle school and high school (Taiki plays badminton and Chinatsu plays basketball). It’s quickly established that Taiki has developed a crush on Chinatsu, and he has invited himself to the high school’s badminton practice in the morning so he can see her while she practices in the gym. Chinatsu is popular, though, so Taiki’s friend Kyo thinks Chinatsu is out of Taiki’s league.
It turns out that Taiki’s mother and Chinatsu’s mother used to play on the basketball team together at the school their children attend, and Taiki learns through his mother that Chinatsu’s family is moving due to a job change. Taiki, who’s concerned about Chinatsu, runs to see her and asks her about it. She replies that while her parents are leaving, she’ll be staying in the area with the family of one of her mother’s friends. And guess whose family she ends up staying with? If you guessed Taiki, you’re right.
And this sets up the crux of the story for Volume One. Taiki decides he needs to hide the fact that Chinatsu is living with his family in order to avoid earning the wrath of the other boys at school… but he doesn’t tell Chinatsu about his plan. So when Chinatsu almost spills the beans to Taiki’s female friend, Hina, and Taiki cuts her off, Chinatsu assumes he has a crush on Hina. And after Taiki and his class move up to being first-years in high school, he sees Chinatsu acting chummy with an upperclassman on the badminton team named Haryu. And while all of this is going on, both Taiki and Chinatsu have a goal of making it to nationals in their respective sports. But as see in this volume, this is some good chemistry between Taiki and Chinatsu, which helps the reader want to root for the two of them to get together.
Maybe it’s just me, but there are points in Blue Box Volume One where it almost feels like Hina might have a crush on Taiki that she’s just not willing to admit to. I could be reading more into certain interactions between Hina and Taiki than were intended, though.
If there are any characters I have any issues with, it would be Kyo. While we see him hanging around Taiki a bit in this volume, I really don’t feel he’s terribly developed as a character. By the end of the volume, Kyo feels like an average person who tries to provide a voice of reason to Taiki, and that’s it. I hope future volumes of the series can help develop Kyo’s character more, so that he’s more than just “Taiki’s average best friend.”
In a lot of respects, there are some tropes that are going into establishing this series, such as the main character’s love interest moving into their house and the misunderstandings about interactions with members of the opposite sex. However, I think the main characters are interesting enough in their own right that it’s a little easier to overlook these tropes. Hopefully now that the story is established, the next volume will see Miura relying less on the tropes. Also, I think including the sports element into the story helps to make it stand out a little more in comparison to other stories that rely on similar tropes.
When it comes to the art, I have to say that Miura does give Taiki some good faces, especially in close-up panels. There was also a great panel of Hina doing rhythm gymnastics on page 115, and it felt like Miura went to a bit of effort to depict her face and hair. Chinatsu also gets an occasional panel that makes her stand out. However, I do notice that it seems like Miura has more of a comfort level with drawing male characters than female characters, because I’m finding more panels where the guys have more detail than the female characters do.
Overall, Blue Box Volume One is off to a decent start. I hope I can have the opportunity to read the next volume of the series in order to find out how the characters and the story progress from here. But if you’re a reader who enjoys both romantic comedy and sports, you might find that you enjoy Blue Box.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media