Crimson Hero 2 by Mitsuba Takanashi: B+

From the back cover:
Nobara is issued a challenge from the boys’ volleyball team: if her team can score one point against them in a match, the girls will win. But, if the girls lose, Nobara will have to give up on having a girls’ volleyball team at Crimson Field forever. With everything on the line for the girls, the boys are playing to win, and even Haibuki seems determined to crush Nobara by aiming at her on the court.

This volume is a lot of fun. First, there’s the three-on-three challenge between the girls and the boys, which goes exactly as one might expect, but is nonetheless very entertaining and features Haibuki sneakily alerting the broadcast club so that a bunch of students will turn out and lend their support to the underdog girls’ team. I also like that the formerly assy boys living in the dorm begin showing much more support for Nobara’s endeavors after her showing at the game.

Next, there’s Nobara’s search for team members which reminds me a lot of Hikaru no Go in terms of the acquisition of a couple of enthusiastic newcomers who help fulfill the numbers requirement without really providing much by way of talent. These newbies bring the club’s membership up to five, leaving Nobara one person short of officially qualifying as a team.

Enter Tomoyo Osaka, who was a star player in junior high until an injury sidelined her before an important game. She was convinced that her team needed her in order to win, but it turns out they found a replacement pretty quickly. Since then, she’s stayed away from the sport and adamantly maintains she has no intention of playing, but of course we and Nobara know better, and our protagonist exerts her hero skills again as she finally breaks through to what Tomoyo’s real objections are. This whole section was perfectly paced; Tomoyo’s sour attitude and backstory angst would’ve gotten irritating if it’d continued for too long, but here it wraps up in just enough time for Nobara’s success in getting through to her at last to feel well-earned.

About the only complaint I could make is that all of this scrambling and struggling—the entire series, even—could’ve been averted if only Nobara had made sure that she was going to be attending a school with a strong girls’ volleyball team. You’d think that if she’s so passionate about it, she’d put forth that extra effort.

In any case, Crimson Hero is definitely fun and I am eager to read the next volume. Which is handy, ‘cos I have about eight of them sitting here.

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