Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Waiting for Spring
Mitsuki often finds herself socially paralyzed, but now that she's starting high school, she wants to make a real effort to change. To accomplish that goal, she picks a high school where no one knows her and determines that this time, things will be different. But before she can really get going on her goal, she finds herself entangled with the four hottest boys on the basketball team. Are all of her plans doomed to drown in a sea of female jealousy?
“Reinventing” yourself in high school is a popular trope in manga, and one made possible by the fact that where you go to high school in Japan isn't necessarily dictated by where you live. Unlike many of her shoujo sisters, however, Mitsuki Haruno isn't interested in making a big “high school debut,” or even getting in with the hottest guys and the most popular crowd. Instead, Mitsuki has the humble goal of just being able to talk to people more easily and to make at least one good friend, like the Aya-chan she knew back in elementary school. Although she and Aya-chan have drifted apart, Mitsuki still treasures the memory of having such a close friend, and that, more than anything, is what she wants from her high school experience.
It's a simple enough change up from the usual “awkward girl enters high school” story, and although Waiting for Spring still moves fairly quickly into standard shoujo romance territory, it is enough to keep things just fresh enough to make the story a classic example of its genre while still being interesting enough to hold more jaded readers' attention. If you're not a fan of the genre, it isn't going to change your mind, but if you're looking for a new shoujo series that isn't a digital exclusive, this is worth picking up.
The story is set up as a fairly basic reverse harem in terms of romance, at least on the outside. Mitsuki very quickly finds herself involved with the four hottest guys on the basketball team, the princes of the school: Towa, Ryuji, Rui, and Kyosuke. It isn't deliberate on her part – although Towa is in her class and she has a friendly history with basketball as a sport, she actually gets involved with the boys when they come to the out-of-the-way café she works at and Ryuji accidentally confesses to Mitsuki instead of her older co-worker Nana, whom he actually has a crush on. Mitsuki is understandably annoyed, especially when the boys all agree that she's in no way cute enough to be the right girl. This marks the way the boys as a group treat her for most of the volume – like a friend rather than a girl, which leads to the casual cruelty the age is prone to. They barely register that they're being mean, but over time they do come to understand that Mitsuki is a person with her own problems, and in their way they do try to help her. Towa, who is in her class, specifically sees that she's usually alone, and he and Mitsuki manage to form a functional friendship that, by the end of the volume, is well on its way to warming into something more.
It's very clear that there really isn't a lot of competition among the boys for Mitsuki's affections. While they do like her, Ryuji is still seriously crushing on Nana while Rui just seems to see her as a new addition to their friend group. Kyosuke may be another story, but right now it looks more like he's enjoying teasing her. This really works in the book's favor, as it allows Mitsuki to feel comfortable with three of the four boys (well, two and a half; Kyosuke really throws her) and to therefore get more adept at speaking to people, whether she realizes it or not. Her comfort level talking with them does help lead to her being able to form a firm friendship with Reina, another new girl in her class. (Anashin points out that most of the other kids have not come from afar to the school, so they all have been together since middle school, further complicating Mitsuki's goals.) Reina herself is a fun character – she's a not-quite-closet fujoshi, although she's never named as such. Anashin does a good job of letting the readers in on the joke while Mitsuki just thinks she wants to be a photographer or something, a misconception Reina is happy to promote.
The plot surprise at the end of the volume makes it very clear that these are early days for Mitsuki's story, so it's unclear how the relationships will stand much longer. It's one of those twists that I probably should have seen coming but didn't, which may speak to Anashin's ability to play with her chosen genre; either way, it gives this book the feel of a prologue, which isn't a bad thing. There's a definite sense that the author knows where she's going with the plot, and her mastery of little details of both story and art – such the fact that Mitsuki genuinely looks ordinary rather than shoujo-cute or pretty – makes it so that reading more of the series becomes a bit of a craving. Waiting for Spring is the kind of light romance that doesn't take its angst to heart while still giving us a heroine and heroes we can root for; a story that is simultaneously fluffy and grounded and all fun.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Just different enough from the norm to stand out, story is good on multiple levels, and Mitsuki's attitude towards the fangirls is a nice change of pace
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