Reviewby Liann Cooper, Apr 15th 2004
Girl Got Game
G.novel 1: Vol. 1
Meet Kyo Aizawa-- a cute, athletic girl who's psyched about starting Seisyu High School because of their "famously cute uniforms." Meet Kyo Aizawa's father-- a man destined to play in the NBA until he tore his Achilles tendon. Over the course of sixteen years, Kyo and her father have shared a love for basketball, but now she's ready to live the life of a normal highschool girl.
Sadly, for poor Kyo, a life of girly, boyfriend-infested days does not await her at Seisyu because not only does Seisyu High School have cute uniforms, they also have a famously successful basketball team. Falling victim to her father's pre-planned life for her, Kyo is destined to live out his "what could've been" life. Much to the chagrin of Kyo, her father has taken it upon himself to order her a boy's school uniform (which aren't famously cute), have her get a haircut, and enroll her as a boy at Seisyu High School so she can play on their basketball team. As if that wasn't complicated enough, all of the basketball team members live together in the same dormitory! The stage is set, the pieces are in place--welcome to Girl Got Game.
With a pink, green, and maroon cover combined with blurry, partial head shots, Girl Got Game already has a strike against it for just looking downright generic. Heck, even the title itself, "Girl Got Game," is a turn-off. Flip it over and read the synopsis, and you're liable to roll your eyes and set it right back on the shelf. But wait, don't disregard Girl Got Game quite yet. Shizuru Seino has taken the "girl-turns-into-boy-and-attends-an-all-boys-school" premise and given us a light, fluid, and surprisingly enjoyable shoujo story.
Readers who are normally turned off by your run of the mill sports manga should strongly consider picking this title up because it may renew your faith in the genre. Unlike titles like Rebound or Harlem Beat, Girl Got Game doesn't focus just on basketball with a budding relationship on the back burner. Instead, it puts the relationship right up front...really up front, since we're introduced to Kyo's love interest by page seven. Kyo and Chiharu's first encounter is more than a bit rocky. Turned off by Chiharu Eniwa's badgering and pompous attitude, Kyo uses Chiharu's back as a spring board to slam dunk his pride right back in his face. Turns out, as the luck of the shoujo storyline draw goes, Chiharu is the star basketball player for Seisyu's basketball team and Kyo has just been assigned as his roommate for the season.
Of course, as the volume progresses, so does Kyo and Chiharu's relationship. The relationship is aided not only by the mutual bond of basketball, but also by the typical angst-ridden situations that plague shoujo. Due to the previously mentioned "complications," Kyo finds herself in a number of awkward and embarrassing moments, like the token, "catch the cross-dressing girl in the bath" scene or the, "I hope that isn't his girlfriend..." scene. And of course, there's the ever popular, "Oh no, I just passed out during workouts due to menstrual cramps!" scene. (A nice touch of realism in an otherwise unrealistic circumstance.) Rounding out all of these situations is the granddaddy scene of them all: the, "Oops! I [Chiharu] tripped and the only way to break my fall is to place my hand on your [Kyo's] chest..." scene --cue corny music and fade out. Naturally, to find out if Kyo's secret been discovered, you'll have to pick up volume two of Girl Got Game.
Shizuru Seino's artwork carries the reader through Girl Got Game easily from one scene to the next. There are no choppy action scenes or awkward figure poses; athletic aspects are depicted naturally. As with any good gender-bending manga, it helps if the characters have enough distinguishing characteristics so the reader can tell one person from the other. Nothing can drive one more insane than getting distracted by trying to flush out the wispy-haired girl from the wispy-haired boys. Thankfully, Kyo and Chiharu sport different hairstyles and have a significant height difference, keeping the reader from getting confused.
Girl Got Game could easily be overshadowed by other popular manga titles in the same category, such as Hana-Kimi or Kill Me, Kiss Me. Despite the competition, Girl Got Game manages to hold its own. With its quirky characters and fun story, Girl Got Game has secured a firm spot on the bookstore shelves.
Overall : B
Story : B+
Art : B-
+ Slightly generic but entertaining
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