Crimson Hero 3 by Mitsuba Takanashi: B+

From the back cover:
Former star setter Tomoyo joins the ranks, and now the six players are an official team at Crimson Field High School! However, Nobara is so focused on training that she fails to notice her team is falling apart under the pressure. Not only that, but Nobara must now find the money to pay for her uniform and club dues. Will Nobara be able to swallow her pride and ask her mother for help? Or will she have to give up on her dream after coming so far?

I was enjoying that Crimson Hero was all about girls striving and doing things purely for themselves to see what they could accomplish. I thought it didn’t need any romance. But then, the romance, she burgeoned, and I find that I kind of love it.

Ever since Yushin heard Nobara’s story and witnessed her passionate love of volleyball in action he, like his dormmates, has become more supportive of her. Lately, when she has had problems, he’s been the one she talked them over with, because she sort of instinctively knew he’d understand her. In this volume, he accompanies her during a very silly, melodramatic rescue of her younger sister (who’s attending an omiai with a cretin), and after Nobara returns from dealing with her parents, she has a good cry against his chest. Nobara’s so clueless about love that she doesn’t realize that she’s got any kind of feelings for Yushin beyond friendship. That is, until she sees him together with his girlfriend.

I’m not quite sure why I love this so very much, but I do. I think it’s because Nobara’s feelings are based on friendship and are directed toward a boy who is very good for her, as opposed to one who’s just princely or popular. I also like that Yushin and Haibuki, while probably classifiable into the “hothead and cool guy” stereotypes that often occupy romantic triangles in shojo manga, don’t really fit so easily into those roles. Haibuki can be a bit of an ass, but he can also be a nice guy. Yushin’s not really a hothead, though he is honest and direct.

Oh yes, and there’s a practice game, too. It was pretty short, though. I’d have preferred more of that and less sister rescuing, but at least the latter provided an opportunity for Souka to see how phenomenal Nobara really is.

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