Crimson Hero 6 by Mitsuba Takanashi: B-

From the back cover:
Haibuki, jealous of Nobara’s crush on his teammate, Yushin, finds it hard to concentrate on volleyball, and both boys end up benched during a game. Now their coach has ordered Nobara to stay away from both of them!

There are some cute moments in this volume, but mostly it’s kind of disappointing, the middle pair of chapters especially. In the first of these, the training camp is done so everyone’s participating in a “night of fright” test of courage kind of thing. I actually giggled at Yushin’s nonreaction to a gorilla-headed guy bursting from some shrubbery (“Woah.”), only to groan some moments later when Nobara fell victim to the dreaded “girl on test of courage falls off hitherto unnoticed cliff and requires rescue by love interest(s)” plot. Seriously, so lame.

The next chapter after that is a major downer, as the girls acquire a coach who is apparently trying to motivate them by making them think they’re morons for having high aspirations or something. Also, there’s a lot of talk going around the volleyball scene about Nobara’s talent and how she’ll never achieve anything being stuck on a mediocre team. This is kind of painful to read, since I want the team to be succeeding already, but it’s true that they still can’t quite manage to keep it together and win a game. I do appreciate the consistent characterization of Ayako, who has always been the one who had the most trouble believing that the team really does have a chance to become something great.

At some point during all of this, the boys fail to win nationals but rank in the top eight. I would’ve liked to’ve seen some of that, but we really just see them walk on a court and are then told the results.

Anyway, I really want to see the girls start winning soon. I guess perhaps Takanashi figured that the audience would be expecting this win—and I was—so decided to subvert the standard pattern and give them further obstacles to surmount. I’m just already impatient for some feel-good triumph!

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