High School Debut: second chances

High School Debut: second chances

Haruna Nagashima has had no luck in love. A tomboy who played softball in junior high, as soon as she entered high school Haruna set her sights on getting a boyfriend. Unsuccessful, Haruna enlists help from Yoh Komiyama, a popular senior to be her dating coach! Yoh finds girls and dating to be a pain, and he is standoffish at first to Haruna. He only agrees to help Haruna on one condition: she can’t fall in love with him. Along the way, Haruna becomes friends with Yoh’s group, including his sister Asami and his best friends Asaoka and Fumi. At first, Haruna falls for Fumi (who is kind but clueless), but when he starts going out with Asami, Haruna gets over him and starts to have feelings for Yoh (of course). Yoh quickly figures out Haruna has feelings for someone, but despite his innate ability to read her like a book, he is unable to tell that the person she has feelings for is himself. When he starts to realize it may be him, he asks her and she denies it, out of fear of losing Yoh as her coach. Yoh realizes he’s disappointed with her answer, but Haruna quickly changes her mind and decides to tell him she loves him, and by volume three, the two have started dating.

Even though I expected the two of them to get together, I had a bit of a problem with Yoh changing his mind so quickly about the possiblity of Haruna having feelings for him, particularly since he had been so adamant about her not falling for him. This is especially because very little had been done to show that Yoh actually has feelings for Haruna too. It seemed as though Haruna’s feelings for Yoh were stronger than his. Luckily, this problem is resolved by volume six when Yoh meets up with his ex-girlfriend, who still loves him. He tells her that he doesn’t care for her anymore and he could never break up with Haruna because “everytime she’s worried about him, she’s not dressed warm enough.” While his ex-girlfriend often only cared about her own feelings, Haruna always takes Yoh into consideration, usually to the point of going overboard. I really liked this answer, and was finally able to pull for the couple.

I have to say, it took me awhile to warm up to this series. I’ve already mentioned how the timing of when I’ve watched and read series has affected my opinions of them. I bought the first four volumes of High School Debut in 2009, at the same time I also got the first few volumes of Love*Com and Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden. I didn’t care for High School Debut as much as these other series and found it be kind of average, so I gave up on it. It wasn’t until about a year later when I read B.O.D.Y that I learned what the word ‘average’ really means, and this prompted me to give High School Debut a second chance. I bought volumes five and six, and after rethinking things I really appreciated how the series sometimes twists shojo clichés, and I also like how cheerful Haruna is. I think the first scene that really endeared me to her character is right after she and Yoh start dating and she begins to be bullied. Like other shojo heroines in this predicament, she doesn’t tell her boyfriend what’s going on, and instead decides to endure it. However, when a group of girls confronts her about breaking up with Yoh because she doesn’t deserve him, she flat out says no, chooses to fight them all and wins. I know fighting girls over a guy isn’t exactly feminist, but I like my heroines spunky, so I appreciated that Haruna isn’t weak or passive.

Overall, I really like High School Debut. Later volumes deal with the possiblity of a love triangle between Haruna, Yoh and Asaoka, but I felt it was handled differently than in most series because Asaoka was so teasing about his affections for Haruna since he’d constantly dangle his feelings for her in Yoh’s face then take his feelings back (while Haruna remained clueless for the most part). And while not every storyline is a winner (I really didn’t care for the part when Leona, Haruna’s former softball rival, attempts to ruin Haruna’s ‘happy’ high school experience by trying to tear her and Yoh apart), I think the characters are fun enough that I’m glad I gave this series a second chance, and I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for a good shojo romantic-comedy.


7 thoughts on “High School Debut: second chances

  1. I’m actually surprised that by Volume 3 the couple gets together so quickly. I’m more used to manga dragging out the get together of the canon couple for several volumes at least.

    I think I remember reading a preview of this manga in Shojo Beat, and thought it sounded interesting. Good to know that this manga is worth a look.

    But I’m guessing you found B.O.D.Y much more average than this series?

    1. Oh yes, many series drag out the couple getting together, which is why I appreciate series where the couple gets together right away (Sand Chronicles, His and Her Circumstances). I guess some authors think they’ll have trouble coming up with storylines if they establish the main couple too quickly.

      I got into High School Debut through Shojo Beat too; I miss that magazine!

      Ugh, B.O.D.Y. That series goes through cliche after cliche for no reason. And Haruna’s a much better female protagonist than B.O.D.Y‘s.

  2. I know fighting girls over a guy isn’t exactly feminist, but I like my heroines spunky, so I appreciated that Haruna isn’t weak or passive.

    So true, and I agree, it could have been so much worse. Namely Yoh having to step in and save her. It’s nice she does it herself. 🙂

    I have to confess, I actually like when the author drags out the getting together bit. ^//////^ I guess because usually I don’t like how the “dating” phase plays out. I guess I just don’t like to see so much drama once they get together. It makes me feel like perhaps it would be better if they didn’t date because they seem miserable together (girl always worrying if the guy really likes her, whether she is pretty enough, etc). ^__^;; But then again, I haven’t really read lots manga where the dating phase is shown in-dept. So perhaps I’ve just been reading the wrong stuff. (I haven’t read Sand Chronicles, for example, and I’ve only got 1 volume of Kare Kano, so these two may change my mind :3 ).

    1. I think I agree with you as well – I also like the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ dance that happens before couples get together, which is probably one of the reasons why I felt that dance was a bit too short in High School Debut. Unnecessarily dragging things isn’t fun, but sometimes there’s something lost once the couple gets together (come to think of it, this happens in B.O.D.Y as well – it seemed as though the author didn’t really know what to do with the series after the main couple got together pretty early on). I think High School Debut managed to avoid that, though. I think that’s also one of the reasons I like Boys Over Flowers so much, since plenty of time passes before the couple gets together yet we get to see them date for awhile as well.

  3. I just started reading this manga a couple of days ago. I think it’s a pretty fun read, but like you, I was surprised that they got together so quickly. I’m on volume 7 now and it’s hard to imagine that there are 14 volumes total. I actually prefer it when the story drags on a little and there’s some longing/anticipation before the couple gets together… like in Strobe Edge, Toshokan Sensou, and many other manga. 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting! I think a huge reason why people seem to like the main couple getting together to be dragged out is because that’s usually the main source of tension in a series, so once that tension is gone the author has to figure out what to do next. I actually think the author of High School Debut does a pretty good job of coming up with plots that are both interesting and don’t seem to come out of nowhere, unlike in some other series where the couple get together early on.

      1. Okay, thanks! I plan to keep reading the rest of the manga, so it’s nice to know that the plot will continue to be interesting and relevant. 🙂 I understand what you mean about some stories that kind of lose their steam after the main couple gets together… can’t remember which manga though, but I have stopped reading a few of them when the plot started to not make sense and it seemed like the author was trying to come up with something just to keep the story going.

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