Shaenon takes a crawl through the manga version of one of Makoto Shinkai's beloved films.
Reviewby Melissa Harper, Nov 3rd 2006
Nobara Sumiyoshi has run away from her duties as heir to the family restuarant to play volleyball at the famous Crimson Field High School. Due to her mother's influence, however, the volleyball team was disbanded right before Nobara enrolled. With hard work, she finally managed to get enough girls for a team, but Nobara quickly learns that just having a team isn't enough; the team has to be able to work together. They have to learn to be teammates before the first match, and Nobara starts to realize that she can't just keep running from her life at home.
Volume three of Crimson Hero really has a lot going on. The rough patches of the first two novels are over; Nobara finally has a volleyball team, and they can finally get to work on becoming the best girl's volleyball team in Japan. Now the story turns a little more to the personal drama between the characters, and the effect all the campaigning has had on them.
Takanashi gets right to business; the girls get a club, a court, and are playing within ten pages. They are just so happy to have a chance to play, however, that they don't realize that it takes more than six talented girls to have a successful team. Practice goes sour quickly, and Nobara is forced to take a long hard look at how she treats the other girls on the team. Meanwhile, she is running out of money, and attempts to get some from home. She is informed that her sister is being made to fill her shoes as hostess, which involves playing with some not very nice boys. All the while, Nobara is discovering she has a friend she can trust in Yushin.
Shoujo is all about the personal story of the characters, and Crimson Hero really tackles that aspect here. It is chock full of shoujo lessons, such as learning to rely on others, and trying to do your best no matter what. Everyone really gets to interact in this volume, especially Nobara and Yushin, who she might be seeing as a little more than a friend by the end of the volume. Nobara really grows as a character here; we see her taking responsibility in all sorts of ways. She goes without food to pay her dues, she chooses being late to the first game over abandoning her sister, and she even faces some of her responsibility to the restaurant.
Other characters don't get nearly as much exposition as Nobara; and we see a lot less of the guys in this volume than previously. It would have been nice to get a little more acquainted with the volleyball girls, too, but Nobara is the main character, so it seems we will learn about them as Nobara does. She makes a few discoveries, such as Rena's dedication to becoming part of the team, but the other girls still need development, as we don't know enough about them yet to really care what happens with them.
This volume also keeps up the great look Crimson Hero has had so far. Face styles are all pretty similar, unfortunately, but there is enough variety in the rest of the character detail that they are never confusingly similar. A little variety in each character's wardrobe wouldn't hurt though; it seems that everyone wears pretty much the same thing all the time. The biggest offender is Aunt Momoko, who wears the same low-cut dress/ lab coat combo in every panel she's been in so far. Change clothes already!
All told, this volume isn't going to change anyone's mind about Crimson Hero. If you have been reading it, you'll want to pick this one up, but there is nothing so special in it as to convert new readers.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+
+ engaging characters, lots of growth
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