High School Debut 9 by Kazune Kawahara: A-

It’s sports festival time, giving Haruna and Yoh the chance to work together on the same team. Alas, the plans for togetherness don’t work out, as Yoh is elected grade captain and has to work hard to master his ceremonial duties and not disappoint those who elected him. Haruna, of course, is very encouraging and does things like make him foul-tasting radish juice to help his throat (since he has to yell a lot). Meanwhile, Haruna receives some encouragement herself from Yoh’s friend, Asaoka, who seems to be in in her vicinity quite often. Yoh figures out that Asaoka has feelings for Haruna and tells him not to confess, as doing so would only upset her.

I’ve read about sports festivals and romantic rivals before, but somehow High School Debut is able to take these familiar manga staples and make something new out of them. The sports festival, for example, provides many opportunities for sweet interaction between the two leads, from Yoh’s embarrassment at his own sentimentality to their inability to vote for other people in the captains’ election, even though they had agreed to do so.

Also, because so much time has been spent on developing the supporting characters, it doesn’t actually feel out of left field that Asaoka, who has seen how being with Haruna has changed Yoh for the better, might come to wonder what might’ve been. He’s an intriguing character, the kind who jokes so often that it’s impossible to tell when he’s serious, which has the additional benefit of pushing normally cool Yoh’s buttons in very entertaining ways.

Are there really only four volumes left of this series? How time flies!

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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