High School Debut 11 by Kazune Kawahara: B+

hsd11From the back cover:
Haruna becomes worried when she sees Yoh hanging out with an unattractive classmate. (Yoh does seem to have strange taste in women, after all…) She has good reason for feeling uneasy—it looks like this girl really does want to sabotage their relationship!

The main reason I love High School Debut is that it skewers some of the typical shojo clichés—the reappearance of an old girlfriend, for instance—by simply having its leads communicate with each other. Volume eleven, alas, is a disappointment in that regard.

It begins when Haruna spots Yoh smiling (a pretty rare occurrence) at his cram school classmate and finds this so painful that her heart is sick. Her mood is buoyed when Yoh asks her on a date, but he fails to show when said classmate, Miyabi, appears to collapse from heat stroke. Of course Yoh is not the type of guy who’d ignore someone in that plight, but he’s left his cell phone at home and can’t call Haruna, leaving her waiting for hours. Later, when he calls to explain what happened, Haruna is torn. She wouldn’t like Yoh if he weren’t the type of guy to be kind to someone in need, but insecurity and jealousy flare up again when she imagines him caring for Miyabi so attentively, and she hangs up on him. I actually love all of this bit, because I can utterly sympathize with Haruna’s reaction, how when you love someone you want to keep him all to yourself.

The part I don’t like comes in when Miyabi begins scheming and fiddles with Yoh’s phone so it blocks Haruna’s calls, sends a break up text, and redirects the contact for Haruna to point to her own phone. AND YOH BUYS IT! He talks to her a couple times and doesn’t realize she’s not Haruna! So, on top of the frustration of our main couple not being able to exert their excellent communication skills to resolve things, has apparently become unable to discern his girlfriend’s voice from that of a relative stranger. Granted, he begins to have his doubts pretty quickly, but it’s annoying all the same. Haruna’s annoying, too, since she evidently believes that Yoh is capable of breaking up with her over a text message, which he is not. At least the resolution to this is rather sweet.

The final chapter sees everyone back at school and Haruna trying to think of something special to do for Yoh’s birthday. Someone at work suggests an overnight trip, and she innocently runs with the idea, seeing it only as an opportunity to go somewhere new. Asami finally clues her in to the implications of an overnight trip and, instead of talking to Yoh about it, Haruna reads some of her brother’s magazines about guys and their attitudes towards sex, purchases some frilly lingerie, and tries to psych herself up to do it with Yoh so he won’t stop liking her. Argh! I dunno, I guess this cluelessness and searching for answers in dodgy print sources is perfectly in character for Haruna, but it’s never bugged me like this before. Perhaps it’s because it comes on the heels of the previous chapter.

In any case, despite the irksome elements in this volume, High School Debut has so much warmth and charm that my overall impression is not diminished. In fact, I’m sad there are only two volumes left!

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. Danielle Leigh says

    I, too, am not very fond of the developments in these most recent volumes but otherwise HSD is so damn good I’m sure the final volume will be heartfelt and charming and a million other things (read: Danielle will probably cry. A lot).

  2. Ah! I just read this volume too, but I think my reactions were the opposite of yours (though I’d probably rate it at about a B+ too; I’ll post about it soon). It’s quite sad to think it will end shortly, but probably better that than just trickling away into mediocrity…

    • Yes, definitely. Another series I like, Love*Com, depressed me by offering a lame 11th volume, and I haven’t had the nerve to read it since. The volumes are piling up!

      • Ah, Love*Com! I collected about the first seven volumes and liked it quite a bit, but it really seemed to be treading water a lot of the time, so I gave up after that. I do think I’m getting pickier and pickier these days…

        • I really liked volume 7 a lot and 8-10 were pretty good, too. But in 11, focus suddenly shifted to Risa’s friend with all of these sudden facts about her coming to light (and reeking with the stench of “I totally just made this up and it wasn’t planned at all”). Very disappointing.

  3. Replying here as it doesn’t want me to reply directly ;-). That’s very disappointing about vol 11 of Love*Com; I hate it when authors just throw things in like that, without thinking the characterisation through. But perhaps I shall cautiously go on with the series, if everything up to 11 was good.

    • That’s weird. Not sure why my last comment’s missing a “reply” option.

      I’m definitely going to continue on with Love*Com, despite my disappointment. It’s only 17 volumes, and I own up to 14, so it’d be silly not to.

      • You should check your settings. I think the default setting for threaded comments only has them three deep. You can set it to…I think up to ten or something (sadly not unlimited like LJ).

        • I was thinking it might be that. I found where that was in the settings and enabled it up to 10. We’ll see if that works.

      • Oh good, it wasn’t just me being stupid and missing an obvious reply option! 🙂
        If I was that close to the end of a series, even if it was a bit past its best, I’d still want to finish it. However, a series that has been going nowhere for ages but has no end in sight… yes, Wallflower, I’m looking at you!) I’ve only just decided to not bother with it anymore, after collecting 19 volumes. Part of me is still twitchy about the decision ;-).

        • That’s funny you should mention The Wallflower, since I recently gave away vols 1-6 without having read them (I stopped there with my hoarding) after hearing how positively aimless volumes 19 and 20 are.

  4. “Positively aimless” describes it exactly! Pity, because it does have lots of good things about it (the heroine being the very best, of course), but I don’t want to read the exact same thing over and over.

    • A friend of mine enjoyed the anime (in which an eventual ending was guaranteed) but didn’t like the manga much. Perhaps that’s the way to go with this story.


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