Mar 16, 2009
S.P.Y. starts out with an interesting enough premise. Olympic gold medalist Suzugawa Maki's daughter Nagi hopes to become as great a swimmer as her mother, but first, she needs to find her mother, who she hasn't seen since she was very little. The circumstances surrounding her mother's departure from her life are left foggy. So she sets out of her small town to set up base in a prestigious school in Tokyo with an acclaimed swimming program where she hopes to train as well as continue her search for her mother. Oh, but what's this... The pool is abducted by a bunch of disinterested looking
boys, who are much too selective when it comes to letting Nagi join the team. Grr... So begins her mission... and the number one item on the agenda is to learn to swim 25 meters without drowning!!
Lots of characters are introduced here, though you're unsure of which male lead will be the hero after a couple of chapters, which is refreshing and quite unexpected from a romance. Nagi, while a fierce and headstrong lead, is a bit simple minded and childish. It doesn't translate into annoying though, it's just the right mix of vivacity. She provides much humor to the script and is shown to be very determined when it comes to learning how to swim and improve herself despite many obstacles, physical and emotional.
The other male leads though barely show too many redeeming qualities. In fact while one, shown with highly gruff habits, goes on to slap Nagi (unapologetic later on!), the other gentler one is cruel towards her feelings as well. I think this may have been set up to show them developing over a period, but then the story was rushed and they suddenly transformed within the space of one chapter instead of a couple of volumes, which seems very unbelievable.
The rest of the supporting characters barely get a line in here and there, including Nagi's one dimensional mother, who again suffers due to the abruptly shortened storyline. They contribute little comedy or drama to the plot.
The art is similar to Ayane's Desire Climax, though the romance and subsequent steaminess is very much toned down. Much emphasis is placed on swimming, and the actions there seem well depicted. Despite many bishies and one shoujo appearing half naked most of the time, very little "action" occurs on that front with much plotline devoted to friendships rather than relationships. Expressions are portrayed in much detail which lends sincerity to the scenes, especially the dramatic ones.
In my opinion the storyline for the first volume was developed with the notion that this manga would run for at least 4 volumes or more, so that each character introduced was shrouded in enough mystery to allow his past, his motivation and his subsequent role in the story to be adequately elaborated over the 4 volumes. So a lot of circumstances are left unexplained in the beginning with the effect that the reader feels there is a lot more to come. But then in volume two, suddenly too much starts happening at breakneck speed compared to the previous chapters. The pace suddenly becomes abrupt with sporadic climaxes. Too many conflicts arise, sudden confessions and heartbreaks are realized and much confusion ensues. The end was barely justified, not at all satisfactory and too many questions and scenarios are left unanswered.
So would I recommend this manga? If you're completely gung ho about sports shoujo manga, maybe, otherwise, there are better shoujos, better romances and definitely better dramas than this one, so if you were planning on reading this because you liked Desire Climax or Biyaku Cafe, you're in for some major disappointment.
Reviewer’s Rating: 5
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