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.