Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Nine

Strobe Edge Volume Nine is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; from the nine volumes that I’ve read of the series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 9
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 4, 2014

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri. At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren.

Ninako tries to suppress her feelings for Ren because she thinks she’ll be able to make Ren and Ando friends again. Ren, meanwhile, realizes he’s in love with Ninako but is too afraid to say anything. However, he realizes that he needs to say something, so he’s determined to tell her after the school sports festival is over.

During Volume Nine, Ando gets a surprise when Mao admits that she’s still in love with him. Unfortunately, this does nothing to sway Ando away from having feelings for Ninako.

When the festival is over, Ninako has an after-party for the cheer squad to go to. However, Ren says he has something to tell her so he’ll wait for her in the classroom. Unfortunately, Ninako stays until she needs to go to work, so Ren’s already gone from the classroom. Ninako calls Ren and leaves a message on his voicemail, saying she needs to talk to him.

When Ninako’s shift is over, the boss insists that Ando escort Ninako because some rough guys have been hanging around lately. They have an encounter with the rough guys, and Ando gets beaten up in front of Ninako. After helping Ando out, Ninako feels guilty about what happened. So when Ren tells Ninako how he feels, she surprises herself by turning him down…

When I got to the scene where Ren and Ninako finally talk and Ren confesses his feelings, I nearly wanted to scream when Ninako turned him down. Here I was, so excited that it looked like the two of them would finally get together, that I was thinking, “No, Ninako! You’re messing this up!” when she turned him down.

I have to give Ando some credit for the fact that he didn’t simply go back to Mao after she admitted that she was still in love with him. However, I really couldn’t feel sorry for him when he was depressed when he thought there was a chance that Ninako and Ren had become a couple after meeting up face-to-face.

There’s only one volume of Strobe Edge left, so I’m really hoping that Ninako and Ren are able to work things out by the end of the next volume. If they don’t, I’m going to be feeling disappointed and gypped. The two of them make such a good couple, and I’ve been rooting for them for so long, that anything less than Ninako and Ren ending up together is going to be a letdown of an ending. I also hope that the ending of Strobe Edge doesn’t turn out to be like the ending of A Devil and Her Love Song, where it was essentially a non-ending after building up the story for 12-13 volumes. I’m really wanting to reading Volume 10 of Strobe Edge in order to find out how the series will ultimately come to an end.

If you’ve read the previous volumes of Strobe Edge, I think you’ll like this volume… although you may find yourself getting a little frustrated with Ninako for blowing her chance with Ren.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Nine that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Eight

Strobe Edge Volume Eight is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T’ for teens; from the eight volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 8
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 7, 2014

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri. At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren.

Ninako spends most of this volume dealing with her confusion about her feelings with Ren. While she knows she likes him, she’s afraid that if the says anything to him that he’ll feel awkward and not want to be friends anymore.

At one point in this volume, Ninako makes the decision that she wants to pursue Ren. However, Ando’s former girlfriend Mao talks to her and tells Ninako about Ren and Ando being friends in middle school and how she came between them when she dated Ando in order to get closer to Ren. Now knowing this information, Ninako decides to try to suppress her feelings for Ren because she doesn’t want to get in the way of Ren and Ando potentially becoming friends again. Unfortunately, Ninako tells her friends that she’s no longer going after Ren but won’t explain why; this causes her friends to worry about her.

As I read this volume, I thought that Sakisaka was able to effectively portray Ninako’s conflicted feelings. Throughout the scenes that she appeared in, I almost thought I could actually feel the emotions that she was feeling. I just kept feeling so bad for her, especially since she’s unaware that Ren has actually developed feelings for her. It almost makes me want to smack Ren and tell him to just tell her straight out how he feels so Ninako can quit beating up on herself.

A new character is introduced, a loud-mouthed guy from another class who’s working with the cheerleaders for the upcoming sports festival. As he spends time around Ninako, he actually becomes the source of some helpful advice for her.

From what I’ve seen, there should only be two volumes left of Strobe Edge. At this point, I’m going to predict that these final volumes will focus on the sports festival and wrapping up the loose ends in regards to the various love interests. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Sakisaka will ultimately bring the story of Strobe Edge to its conclusion.

If you’ve read the previous seven volumes of Strobe Edge, then I think you’ll also enjoy Volume Eight.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Eight that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Seven

Strobe Edge Volume Seven is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T’ for teens; from the seven volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 7
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 5, 2013

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri. At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren.

Ninako spends a lot of Volume Seven feeling rather conflicted. She believes that Ren is willing to spend time with her and smile because they’re simply friends; because of this, she doesn’t want to confess her feelings to him again, out of fear that if she does, they’ll no longer be friends. Unknown to her, though, is the fact that Ren has feelings for her but isn’t saying anything. I found myself feeling rather bad for the both of them, because I knew that if they could just admit their feelings for one another, things would be OK.

A major focus of Volume Seven is on the class trip. Ninako, Sayuri, Ren, and Yutaro end up being the same group. The trip becomes tense, due to several factors. Obviously, Ninako and Ren’s reluctance to tell the other how they feel is one part of this tension. However, Sayuri notices that a girl from Daiki’s class seems to be a little too close to him, so she spends her time worrying about whether or not Daiki is being faithful to her. And it turns out there’s a secret that involves Sayuri and Yutaro that adds to the tension.

Manabu and Ando are in another group. While Manabu tries to have their group keep their distance from Ren and Ninako in order to give them space, Ando keeps trying to find ways for their groups to be together on the trip.

At the end of the volume, there’s also a bonus story called, “Wishing for Yesterday,” which focuses on Yutaro and Sayuri. This bonus story gives the reader the backstory that’s needed to better understand their secret that’s revealed in this volume. This is at least the second time that I can think of during the series that Sakisaka has provided a bonus story in a volume to help give the background on something that appeared in that volume. This is information is important, but including it as a flashback in the main story in this series would have hurt the flow of the story too much. I have to give Sakisaka a lot of credit for writing and illustrating these bonus stories in order to impart important information to readers.

If you’ve read the previous six volumes of Strobe Edge, then I think you’ll also enjoy Volume Seven.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Seven that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Six

Strobe Edge Volume Six is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens; from the six volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 6
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 3, 2013

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri.

At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren. When Ninako learns about the breakup in this volume, she finds herself feeling rather conflicted. On the one hand, Ren is free and she wouldn’t have to hold back her feelings. However, she also realizes that Ren must be having a hard time with the breakup, so she doesn’t want to do anything that would make him uncomfortable. Of course, the other girls at school who have had their eye on Ren since Volume One are trying to pursue him, which only complicates Ninako’s feelings.

Ando is still pursuing Ninako, and hearing that Ren and his girlfriend have broken up makes him want to try to win Ninako even more. Even when they’re having to compete against each other in sports, Ando wants to beat Ren in order to impress Ninako. The new school year starts up at the end of the volume, and both Ren and Ando end up being in the same class as Ninako, which is already causing some tension.

Now that Mayuka and Ren are no longer together, the dynamics of the story have really started to change. Personally, I believe this change of dynamics is a good thing, because the story could have become stale if this shakeup didn’t happen.

With Ren potentially becoming a real threat to Ando when it comes to Ninsko, Ando is definitely starting to become more tense and his character has really started to change. As a writer, I could see several different ways that his character could go in future volumes, so I’m very interested in seeing how Sakisaka is going to progress Ando’s character, as well as the story as a whole.

In addition to Strobe Edge, a one-shot that Sakisaka did is included in this volume. The one-shot is called Colorless Dreamer, and it focuses on characters who are slightly older than the characters in Strobe Edge. In Colorless Dreamer, a young woman named Rena Kowaki lives with her musician boyfriend, Haruka. Rena is the one trying to earn money in order for them to eat and keep a roof over their heads, but she keeps getting fired from her jobs. One day, she overhears some of the female fans at Haruka’s band’s shows that Rena doesn’t deserve Haruka and that he looks like he’s worn out and has lost weight. Rena starts doubting herself and thinking she doesn’t deserve to be with him.

In Colorless Dreamer, you can definitely tell that this is Sakisaka’s art style, since some of the characters in this one-shot look somewhat similar to characters that appear in Strobe Edge. While this one-shot may feature a shojo love story, it does feature slightly older characters than you normally associate with shojo. The story says that Rena is 19, so I assume Haruka is 19 as well, or perhaps in his early 20s. This particular story definitely works as a one-shot; there’s no way this story could have worked for an entire manga series. It’s a decent one-shot, and should be enjoyable to readers who have already come to like the Strobe Edge series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Six that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Five

Article first published as Manga Review: ‘Strobe Edge’ Volume Five by Io Sakisaka on Blogcritics.

Strobe Edge Volume Five is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens; from the five volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 5
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 2, 2013

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando.

In this volume, while Ando and Ninako are out shopping for supplies for a Christmas party, they run into Ando’s old girlfriend from middle school. This is the girl that used Ando back in middle school to get closer to one of his friends, and Ando wants nothing to do with her. After an awkward exchange, Ando leads Ninako away. Later, while talking during a shift at work, Ando grabs Ninako in a hug to comfort her, and Ren suddenly walks in. As you read these panels for this, you can actually sense the awkwardness.

After this, Ando tries to convince Ninako to go out with him, but Ninako comes to the conclusion that she still loves Ren and would simply be using Ando to get over him. In fact, she decides she’s going to work on pretending she doesn’t feel anything for Ren.

Meanwhile, Mayuka and Daiki are spending some time with their father before he leaves. Over the course of this volume, Mayuka finds herself doing some soul searching, and a major change takes place at the end of Volume Five because of her.

There’s an additional short story called “Unfinished Map.” It’s a supplemental story about Ren and Ando back in middle school. In fact, this story covers the incident that happened with Ando’s ex-girlfriend who appeared earlier in the volume. In the actual story, Ando has always been a bit on the vague side when he talked about what happened between him and his ex-girlfriend, so this story was a nice additional piece for the reader to have a better understanding of this part of Ando’s history. This was a very well-done supplemental short story, and it adds a new layer to what has already been presented in the series.

When it comes to the main story, a major theme that runs through this volume is confusion. Ninako finds herself feeling confused about her feelings for Ren, and Mayuka also starts having confusion and doubts about her relationship with Ren. The confusion for both of them permeates much of the story that appears in Volume Five, and right at the end of the volume, one character loses their confusion while another characters gains a sense of confusion.

The love triangle also really goes through some very interesting changes in dynamics over the course of Volume Five. And with what happens at the end of this volume, it’s going to be very interesting to see where Sakisaka takes the story for Volume Six. I’m actually looking forward to getting a chance to read the next volume, and hopefully I’ll be able to read it sooner rather than later.

After reading Volume Five, I believe that readers who have read and enjoyed the first four volumes of Strobe Edge will really enjoy reading this volume as well.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Five that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Four

Article first published as Manga Review: ‘Strobe Edge’ Volume Four by Io Sakisaka on Blogcritics.

Strobe Edge Volume Four is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens; from the four volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 4
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando.

Right at the end of Volume Three, Ando told Ninako that he likes her. Ninako is still in love with Ren, even though she knows he already has a girlfriend. But Ninako finds herself feeling confused and conflicted for a lot of this volume after receiving this confession of love from Ando. And between an awkward situation that happens with Ren and Ando giving her his scarf, Ninako’s confusion only grows.

Daiki also learns that his father is getting remarried and will be moving. He needs to decide if he’s going to move with his dad and break up with Sayuri. Mayuka, Daiki’s sister, has a hard time accepting her dad’s remarriage and asks Ren to stay with her.

Right near the end of the volume, Ren begins acting differently. Also, there’s some conflicting information given between Mayuri and Ren at this point as well, so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in Volume Five.

To me, the strongest part of Volume Four was actually the storyline with Daiki and Sayuri. While the love triangle between Ninako, Ren, and Ando makes some major progressions in this volume, I felt that the Daiki and Sayuri storyline was a little more interesting and a little more riveting.

But when it comes to the love triangle, I still find it hard to root for Ando. While he begins to seem like he’s being a little more sincere compared to Volume Three, I’m just not convinced that he’s the right guy for Ninako. I guess Sakisaka wants the reader to root for Ren, but I have hard with that, too, since he’s currently in a relationship with Mayuri. However, between a couple of scenes near the end of Volume Four, I’m wondering if Ren and Mayuri’s relationship could be headed for trouble.

At this point, Strobe Edge has evolved into a shojo manga series that I have come to enjoy and look forward to reading each volume. And I think that if readers who have already read the first three volumes of Strobe Edge and enjoyed them should also be able to enjoy reading Volume Four.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Four that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Three

Article first published as Manga Review: Strobe Edge Volume Three by Io Sakisaka on Blogcritics.

Strobe Edge Volume Three is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens; from the three volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Strobe Edge Volume 3
Written by: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 5, 2013

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando.

Several major developments take place for the characters over the course of Volume Three. The biggest is that Daiki and Sayuri become a couple, so he is taken out of Ninako’s tangled love web. Ando also gets a better idea about how he feels for Ninako, and we also get a little bit of backstory for him that explains why he was acting like such a player back in Volume Two.

Another big development is that Ren’s friend, Manabu, gets jobs for some of the characters at a café that his cousin is opening up. Manabu ends up bringing in Ninako, Ren, and Ando to help fill those part-time jobs, which provides for some interesting character interactions later in Volume Three. This volume ends on a cliffhanger, and it will be interesting to see how the story progresses in Volume Four.

I have to admit that Daiki and Sayuri becoming a couple completely caught me by surprise. For the short term, at least, I think this is a good plot development; it allows the character web around Ninako become a little less tangled than it was at the end of Volume Two. It will be interesting to see if Daiki and Sayuri can make this work in the long run, or if Daiki will end up back in the line of potential suitors for Ninako. Personally, while I like Daiki’s character, I think it’s probably best for him to be out of the situation that he had been in during the first two volumes of the series.

I also liked getting the backstory for Ando, because it helped me to better appreciate him as a character. Unfortunately, I can’t really root for him and Ninako to end up together at this point, because I question his motivations at this point in the story.

When I finished Volume Three, both the character development that took place in this volume, as well as the cliffhanger ending, made me want to read the next volume of the series. If you’ve read the first two volumes of Strobe Edge and enjoyed what you read, I think you’ll be pleased with how Volume Three progresses the story.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Three that I checked out through the King County Library System.