Crimson Hero 12 by Mitsuba Takanashi: B

crimsonhero12From the back cover:
With one of their ace players injured, Nobara and the Crimson Field girls must fight harder than ever. Their challenge is the Newcomers’ Tournament, and their performance in this venue will determine just how far the team can go. But Nobara’s distracted when she learns that one of her not-so-secret admirers seeks to crush Yushin and destroy the boys’ team!

The girls’ team has done fairly well in the Newcomers’ Tournament, but losing Tomo to injury means they’ve got to hurriedly train a stand-in just to have the minimum number of members required to play. Meanwhile, when Nobara is injured during one of those “locked in the gym storage room” scenes followed by a “creepy stalker tries to corrupt me but I’m protected by my virtuous true love” rescue, this puts them at enough of a disadvantage that they end up finishing in 13th place, though they’re not entirely out of the running as far as their dream of reaching the Spring Tournament goes.

Despite the fact that the finals round of a tournament is underway, most of the volume actually centers on the love triangle of the series. Haibuki’s solicitude after Nobara’s incident with the stalkery guy makes her feel even more guilty for not telling him about her proto-relationship with Yushin, and she begins to think it wouldn’t be so bad if he knew. Yushin decides to handle things himself and, after the boys win their tournament and Haibuki both compliments Yushin on his captainship and the team on their general awesomeness, Yushin judges that the time is right.

I’ve never really liked Haibuki much, but the way he reacts to this news makes me want to smack him. I mean, nobody would react well to finding out they’ve been duped for months, but he plays the role of the wounded party to the hilt, moving out of the dorm in a huff and considering an offer to transfer to another school. I would’ve been more sympathetic, perhaps, if Takanashi-sensei hadn’t depicted him so woodenly during crucial scenes; an opportunity to really make us feel the horrible pain of betrayal was squandered there. Still, even had she done a better job, I still would’ve ended up hating him for immediately ringing up Tomo, whom he knows still has feelings for him. Don’t mess with her heart, you ass! I could get behind the storytelling decision to transition Haibuki into more of a villainous role, but I have a feeling we’re supposed to believe his actions are the result of profound heartbreak and not simply self-pity.

Crimson Hero may not be the best Shojo Beat has to offer, but I do still like it enough to want to follow the story, even if I can’t really get invested in the romantic plotline. I think I’d like it more if it were simply about Nobara and Yushin trying to strike a balance between loving each other and simultaneously pursuing their goals of volleyball greatness. If I’m lucky, Haibuki really will transfer out and leave the two of them alone, but I don’t think that’s very likely.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. I wonder if others feel the same about Haibuki. I had the same reactions and have debated even continuing the series from where it left off in Shojo Beat. I like Nobara and Yushin well enough. The girls’ team members too. But I always thought Haibuki was a jerk. From what I’ve read of Takanashi, she has a knack for dislikable characters.

    • Yeah, I like everybody but Haibuki. I’d much rather read more about the team members’ lives than Haibuki’s angst.


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