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High School Debut Volume 1

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High School Debut Volume 1 by Kazune Kawahara, a shojo manga published by Shojo Beat / VIZ Media

High School Debut Volume 1

© 2003 by Kazune Kawahara / SHUEISHA Inc.

The Bottom Line

Tomboy Haruna is an ace softball pitcher, but she just can't get to first base with the guys. After her attempts to find a date fall flat, Haruna turns to Yoh, her 'hot' (albeit crabby) classmate to become her dating coach.

In the hands of a lesser storyteller, High School Debut would have a lot of predictable, sexually-charged hijinks before Yoh and Haruna fall in love. But instead, Kawahara lets this mismatched pair develop a true friendship – and even dares to have Haruna fall in love with another guy instead! A delightful romantic comedy that's already on the short list of my favorite new manga of 2008.

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Pros

  • A laugh out loud funny, romantic and engaging twist on the makeover manga theme
  • Absolutely wonderful, likeable teen characters that aren't cookie-cutter caricatures
  • Clean, well-drawn artwork that captures the emotional ups and downs of high school romance
  • Strong male and female main characters share a real friendship, not just a flirtation
  • Female lead Haruna is strong, sincere, sweet, funny and flawed – A heroine worth cheering for

Cons

  • Male lead Yoh looks perpetually sleep-deprived and crabby

Description

Guide Review - High School Debut Volume 1

Tomboy Haruna gave it her all in sports when she was in intermediate school. Now that's she's in high school, she's determined to find a boyfriend. Haruna may know how to pitch, but she doesn't know the first thing about getting to first base with guys. And little wonder! By relying on a mishmash of dating advice from teen magazines and "unrealistic" shojo manga love stories, Haruna ends up more confused than ever as she fails to grasp the finer points of fashion, make-up and flirting.

As all of Haruna's efforts fall flat, her friend points out that a dating coach might help. Haruna recruits Yoh, one of the best-looking guys in school to help her. Crabby Yoh isn't into it, but Haruna's enthusiasm wears down his resistance. He agrees with one condition: She can't fall for him.

In the hands of a less skillful storyteller, High School Debut would give us a predictable series of misadventures until Yoh and Haruna fall in love. Instead, Kawahara lets events unfold in a delightfully different way: She lets this mismatched pair develop a real friendship, and even lets Haruna fall in love with a guy that's not Yoh.

Unlike some other makeover manga, Haruna's transformation doesn't happen overnight, and it's not about making her into something she's not. In fact, Kawahara lets Haruna's quirkiness, inner strength and good nature shine through, such that even pre-makeover, she comes across as someone who deserves true love.

Kawahara also sneaks in a few laugh-out-loud moments that make fun of every half-baked dating or fashion tip you've ever read in teen magazines. Add in her likeable artwork and well-paced story, and you have a shojo romantic comedy that's already on the short list of my favorite new manga for 2008.

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