If you read any amount of shojo manga, one of the things you can expect to see infrequently is a completely unique setting and unique plot focuses. While there are some amazing and notable examples, there are quite a few more series set in high school, focused on the relationships of students and their dilemmas. There is good and bad to this – the good is that there is a lot to be said about the finesse of an artist; how can you take known quantities and turn them into something new or different? In the same way, there are hundreds of shojo schoolgirls in print at any given time in Japan, and SOMETHING, some unknown quality, is what draws a foreign publisher to a series in order for it to be published outside of Japan. So, of all the school days manga that we get here in the USA, we are likely getting the choicest bits, even if it isn’t wholly original stuff.
Strobe Edge is a very simple story – the main character, Ninako, is flummoxed by her feelings and lack of understanding of love, and from the beginning of “what is this heavy feeling in my chest,” to “I think you are a great guy but I don’t love you,” we see her learn more about relationships and about herself. It’s an early place to start a romance manga, and for some, this might be a major turn off. But on the other hand, we get an entire volume learning about Ninako, something that will serve the readership well in coming volumes.
Ninako has two boys in her life – the enigmatic and dark-haired Ren, and the good friend who has a very obvious crush on her, Daiki. While the first volume deals with Ninako’s understanding of her feelings and the rest of the story is a little enigmatic, I think that it is safe to say that this is going to be a series where anything is possible. Which pairing will end out as the winner is a little cloudy at this point and it’s uncertain if Ninako’s first volume crush will lead anywhere.
The art is like most other Shojo Beat manga – there are sparkles and sunbeams galore, and faces of characters are drawn in intricate detail. Still, Strobe Edge avoids some common flaws, and the paneling advances the story very easily. Sakisaka uses illustrations that exceed borders and page edges in a way that most mangaka do not, and it has a really interesting effect in Strobe Edge – characters drawn in this way seem more dynamic and sometimes more pensive.
While I can’t claim that everyone is going to like Strobe Edge, especially if you are sick of seeing the same types of stories again and again, I can say that I enjoyed it. If you are a fan of the familiar, this manga should be quite the treat.
For Fans Of: Kimi ni Todoke, Skip Beat! Shojo that isn’t about vampires
Final Verdict: Recommended