Crimson Hero 9 by Mitsuba Takanashi: B+

From the back cover:
Just when Nobara is set to play with the Eagles against the men’s team at Central Sokai University, Yushin shows up on campus! Has he come to make a play for Nobara?

At last! I love seeing good things happen for characters I like, and this volume is immensely satisfying in several important ways. Nobara gets her first taste of victory when the beach volleyball team manages to beat the elite college team, though I am kind of getting annoyed with all of these games that go all the way to the very final point. I guess that’s supposed to show how hard the struggle was? There’s also some awesome stuff between Nobara and Yushin.

But the very best stuff actually happens when Nobara returns to Crimson Field. In her absence, one of her teammates, Kanako, a relative newcomer to volleyball, has been training really hard. She’s proud of her new skills and shows them to Nobara, who is appropriately impressed. Alas, the coach is more interested in what Nobara has learned to do and is dismissive of Kanako, who’d been receiving personal attention up ’til that point and whose goal was to become better than Nobara.

Nobara realizes later, upon seeing the tattered state of Kanako’s equipment, just how hard she’d been working and refuses to accept Kanako’s resignation from the team. There’s this great scene where they meet up in a cafĂ© or something. Kanako says, “I’m not going to lose to you!” To which Nobara replies, “I’m not going to lose to you, either!” Then they both break out in tears. There’s one panel of the two of them sobbing away with the sound effect “Waaaaah” going across it. It’s wonderful, funny, and in character, too. I think I read that sequence over, like, four times.

And, as if all that weren’t enough, the Newcomers’ Tournament (which has some bearing on the attendees for the Spring Tournament somehow) begins and the Crimson Field girls handily win their first game. It’s a feel good volume all around.

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