Tears of a Lamb 2 by Banri Hidaka: B+

From the back cover:
It’s “Sports Day” at school! Coincidentally, it’s also the last day Kanzaki has a chance to make it onto the basketball team. He faces an old rival who knows about his past failures, and when an accident puts his ability to play in jeopardy, it shakes up his confidence even more. It’s up to Kei to pump him up and help him get his game face back on.

Usually, I find school events like festivals or sports days to be a bit of a cop-out story-wise, but in this case, its approach was actually mentioned in the first volume, and there’d been enough build up that it actually had some narrative importance.

Kanzaki hadn’t played basketball since near-blindness in his left eye caused him to commit an error that cost his junior high team an important game. He’d been avoiding the game since. With the help of Kei and others, he finally realized that he’d forgotten the fun that could be had in simply playing, versus the attitude that winning is everything. This might sound kind of lame, but it was really handled pretty well over the course of several chapters. I swear I got kind of verklempt at one point.

The main goodness, however, was the growing friendship between Kei and Kanzaki. I especially liked how Kanzaki was sensitive to her eating disorder (she’s a recovering anorexic) and didn’t put her in situations where she’d feel compelled to accept food. He did this completely nonchalantly, and it was an excellent way to show (not tell) his caring side. In return, she bolstered him when his confidence flagged. I’m very pleased that this relationship is shown with such a firm foundation of regard and consideration and isn’t based on love-at-first-sight theatrics.

The not so good stuff:
* The over-the-top humor from the last volume was toned down slightly, though I was annoyed when Kanzaki’s overbearing sisters visited and one had fun smacking him around. I’ve encountered that from time to time (like in Boys Over Flowers) and I dislike it thoroughly.
* There were further errors in overlays, mostly with the original not being completely removed before the translation was applied atop it. I noticed a couple of typos and weird symbols, too.

Add some mystery about Kei’s past (and one panel that hints to something in Kanzaki’s, as well) and the second volume of Tears of a Lamb works out to be a satisfying read.

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