Series: Strobe Edge (10 volumes: 39 chapters)
Author: Io Sakisaka
Shelves: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance; High-School
Format: Kindle Edition
Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3 stars
Having no experience in romance, the vibrant Ninako curiously explores the meaning of what “love” really is, and is surprised to feel a colorful range of emotions as she grows closer to the school heartthrob, the quiet yet gentle Ren, who also happens to be involved in a longtime relationship. With every intention of keeping her head held high, Ninako prepares to face the mental pain of this one-sided love that she had allowed to take root, facing a series of trials that would either contribute to her growth as a headstrong woman, or break her as it did with other girls. However, is this really a one-sided love? Or had something been silently sown in the most hidden part of Ren’s heart?
“Thank you for teaching me such a lovely feeling.”
It is popular opinion amongst their classmates that Ninako will end up with her oldest friend Daiki, since everyone knows that he is in love with her. But Ninako, like many girls at her high school, only has eyes for Ren. After an accident on the train that results in him breaking her mobile phone charm, Ren promises to replace Ninako’s broken charm, and after this interaction, Ninako feels that she sees Ren everywhere she turns. Ninako finally confesses her feelings to Ren, but while he is flattered, he tells her that he is already dating someone. Convinced that her first love will forever be unrequited, Ninako decides that she will instead be Ren’s friend. But as their friendship grows, Ninako feels the increasing sadness and frustration of not having her feelings returned, but feels that she must keep her affection toward Ren in check if she is to remain his friend.
I’m finally doing another manga review, it’s been months since my last one! I read half of Strobe Edge late last year and then put it on hold for a couple months before I finished the remainder of it in a day. This manga is so addictive!
Ninako is a cute character. She’s tiny and shy and quite naive. She’s also incredibly sweet and kind, and it is this characteristic that makes the reader like her and want her to be successful in her pursuit of Ren. I honestly can’t think of much to say about Ninako expect that she’s such a lovely character. She always does what she thinks is right, even if it means getting hurt in the process. She also adds a lot of humour to the series, as her klutziness tends to get her into some funny scenarios.
Ren… It takes a while to get to know Ren’s true character. From the beginning of the series, he’s very reserved and quiet, and it’s clear that many of the girls like him based solely on his appearance since he tends to distance himself from everyone at their school. It isn’t until his girlfriend and his former best friend is introduced into the manga, that we start to see more aspects of his character, and understand why he is so distant from everyone at school. He’s very kind, and cares a lot for the people he is closest to. It was really fun to see his true character slowly show as the manga went on.
There are several other characters I really enjoyed, too. At times I even preferred to read about them over the main characters. Andou is Ren’s former best friend, and has feelings for Ninako (though I personally didn’t see this as a love triangle). I liked seeing Andou’s past especially – about his friendship with Ren in middle school and what happened to ruin their previously close friendship. I actually think he was my favourite character by the end. I also liked Ninako’s friend Sayuri. Ninako has a group of girl friends, but Sayuri is the only one out of the bunch to have any attention and development. Sayuri has feelings for Daiki, and confesses to him very early on in the manga. I think she’s a really cool, mature character, and I found myself really interested in her backstory in volume nine.
It took a while for me to really get invested in the plot of Strobe Edge because of how plain it is: Ninako pines for Ren, confesses and gets politely rejected, still pines for him regardless. And this is basically the main plot for approximately half of the series. I found myself skimming a lot of Ninako’s early dialogue because her narrative circles around the same things (her unrequited love for Ren), and it’s very repetitive. But as more characters were introduced, and Ninako formed relationships with these new characters, I definitely gained more interested in the series. My favourite volume was the ninth one – I read it so quickly as well. There was a lot of activity in that volume involving a lot more characters, and I thought it was the best volume of the series, with the final instalment being my second favourite.
I will also say that we see very little of these characters outside of school/work. I know character’s families feature very little in manga/anime, but there are near to no parents whatsoever in this series. I think seeing characters in their home interacting with their families is nice to see (like Sawako’s parents in Kimi ni Todoke for example). I just feel that we didn’t see many dimensions of the characters, because so much focus was on the numerous romances within the school setting.
Despite its slow start, Strobe Edge was a cute, cheesy read that had me hooked!
Would you read this series again? I’m honestly undecided. I want an anime adaptation though!!
Who would I recommend this series to? Fans of high school/first-love romances.