Saturday, May 30, 2009
Crimson Hero, vol. 1
I've been reading Crimson Hero in Shojo Beat magazine for a year or so now, but I'd never read the beginning of this story. After seeing it at my local library, I decided to check it out.
The story: All Nobara wants to do is play volleyball. Unfortunately, her parents are the proprietors of a popular ryotei, or a high-class Japanese dining establishment, and expect her to inherit the family business. When she joins Crimson Fields High School, it's for the volleyball team. It's just too bad it was recently disbanded. However, despite all this, she decides to commit herself to starting a new team, while supporting herself through high school by serving as the interim dorm mother for the boy's volleyball team.
Reaction: Wow -- all the characters look so young here! Of course, I was impressed by Nobara's determination and amused by her aunt, Momoko. This volume really sets up the scene for Nobara's continued determination and optimism, despite all the hurdles in her way. This was just a really nice, strong start to a story I already enjoy.
Deep thoughts: When you look at cultural dimensions, Japanese (and most Asian) cultures are quite collectivist, placing higher priority on the group than the individual. In other words, what "everyone else" wants is more important than what "I" want. In contrast, North America and Europe rank as more individualistic, valuing the individual over the group. When looking at Nobara's situation, it's surprising culturally to see her "rise up" against and fight her situation. While this may seem a normal occurence in the U.S., it wouldn't necessarily be viewed the same way in Japan.
Artwork: The character design here was very nice and you could "read" personalities just by looking at their clothing. There were even some unnecessary details that helped paint the scene -- like the hot water dispenser in the kitchen -- and provided a better sense of place by their sheer existence.
The verdict: Highly recommended. This is a very good story about a girl fighting for who she really is and her sense of self, as well as rallying the people around her into believing in themselves. Nobara lives for volleyball and her enthusiasm draws the reader in, even if they have little to no interest in volleyball itself (like me). Crimson Hero is available in the U.S. from Viz.