Having no experience in romance, the vibrant Ninako curiously explores the meaning of what “love” really is, and is surprised to feel a colorful range of emotions as she grows closer to the school heartthrob, the quiet yet gentle Ren, who also happens to be involved in a longtime relationship. With every intention of keeping her head held high, Ninako prepares to face the mental pain of this one-sided love that she had allowed to take root, facing a series of trials that would either contribute to her growth as a headstrong woman, or break her as it did with other girls. However, is this really a one-sided love? Or had something been silently sown in the most hidden part of Ren’s heart?
I love, love, love Io Sakisaka and Strobe Edge is definitely one of her more brilliant series. The first volume in this 10 volume work sets up the conflicts and themes that will last throughout the series. The manga shows the coming of age of teenagers in an unnamed high school in Japan. The main character, Ninako, is utterly innocent in the matters of the heart and in this first volume, she comes in contact with Ren who makes her feel things she hasn’t felt before and grapples with her sense of friendship for her best friend who feels more for her than she wants him to.
Ren has a girlfriend which further complicates Ninako’s life but rather than cheapening it with jealousy and other negative feelings, Sakisaka takes us on a journey through adolescence. Sakisaka is particularly talented at taking the trivialities of life and making them beautiful in all their ordinariness. She shows that there is beauty in heartache and joy in friendship.
The art is wonderful. The humour prevalent and no North American reader will struggle with situating herself in the context of the story. All of us have been through that painful first love. Those first feelings of love and the bittersweet knowledge that your love will remain unrequited. I totally recommend that you, even if you do not read manga, give this one a chance. It is wonderful and I have this tiny crush on Ren. Seriously.