All that matters to 15-year-old Nobara Sumiyoshi is volleyball—she's an awesome player with big-time ambitions. But sometimes it seems like a girl just can't get a break in the competitive world of high school volleyball.
(Source: VIZ Media)
Volume 15: "Second"
Volume 16: Sugar
Personal Rate: 6
Rate based on the different characteristics: 6.5 rounded down to 6.
WARNING tiny spoiler ahead with warning before and after.
Okay... I typed a review and for some strange reason everything got lost so I'll try to make this quick because I'm really frustrated ( it was a long review). I first read Crimson Hero when I was in high school but scans took a while back then so it's only now ( in my 30s) that I've been able to finish the series.
It is a shoujo sports manga and it is rare enough that just for that it gets my seal of approval.
This being said, there's a couple of issues that I can hardly turn a blind eye on so here goes:
Nobara is crazy about volleyball and enters into a high-school where the female volleyball team has been wiped out when the reason she chose that school in the first place was to play. We then follow her journey of how she rebuilds the team and leads its members to compete with other high schoolers and get recognized.
Nothing new under the sun.
2 major problems though:
- Too much drama: This is a shoujo manga so obviously we get some love stories... And I don't mind really. I wouldn't have picked a shoujo in the first place if I wasn't expecting some... But the manga loses its way with some useless sub-plots several times. It's a problem I already had with this author's previous work Devil beside You aka Akuma de Sourou, where an interesting premise got boring after a while because of the useless conflicts.
- Not technical enough: Volleyball is never properly explained in the manga. One example for instance: the positions are not explained. It took me about 10 volumes to understand what role each team member had... which is ridiculous when the story does incorporate complete newbies to the team. The sport itself is never properly explained, why this or that hit is difficult... Nope. So basically you've got cool scenes in front of which you're supposed to be excited and in awe, but since you're never taught exactly why it's awesome... Well it leaves you a bit cold...
To make it short, it's the best shoujo sports manga I ever read for sure... but it fares poorly next to its shounen counterparts.
I've never been really fond of this author's drawing style... I do like that her male characters are not your average bishounens... In fact, most could even be featured in shounens... however my problem is not really the style but rather the proportions. The profiles especially look weird.
The author's drawing had improved drastically since her debut no doubt but when it comes to female characters... Well the "cool ones" look really manly. Worst is the character of Shouji, Nobara's rival who just has a man's built. Basically the cooler the author wanted to make her female characters, the manlier they looked.
I did appreciate however that the girls are really the sporty types. Most have short hair, or tie their hair when practicing... it may appear trivial, but at least it appears serious... I'm diverging here, but I recently looked at Boruto in which Sasuke's daughter, a wannabe ninja, is a hyper sexualized midget wearing high heels. This is just not believable. It's frankly ridiculous.
So as much as I'm not fond of the art, well, at least it's taking females seriously so thumbs up to that.
Overall, nothing to say here. I is a pity the backstories of the female team members wasn't more depicted... and that time was lost on useless love conflicts. Or the reverse?
Yuushin , Nobara and Keisuke are great characters. Nothing to complain about on that front...
It's a pity, but I can hardly give it more. The sports part didn't excite me... The end especially went for something epic... But there was just too much sentimentality and blahblah for me to get into it. In short, as much as I wanted to get invested, it was just too sappy for me to get into. My blood wasn't boiling as much as it ever did in a shounen... If I could have fast forwarded it, I would have skipped some of the volleyball scenes...
Well, It's a problem I also got with a recent anime Yuri on Ice. Not enough sport, too much romance, or not enough romance too much sport. Basically, by trying to do do both, it ended up fairing poorly on both front.
My ship leaned more toward romance.... Because I never got truly invested in the competitions especially since...
It's said very early on that Nobara will stop playing after high school. So it gets difficult to get invested in a character that everybody sees as extremely talented but basically it just feels useless. Why all these efforts it you're going to toss it away in 2 years? When following competitions, one of the reasons I truly get into the series, is because these are roadblocks our characters are to get past in order to make something of their lives. But here, well, the competitions amounts to nothing for the female team. None of the characters are given a chance for something more after high school. In fact, while we know by the end that some male characters have kept on playing at the national level... nothing is said about the girls.
You know it's like the third language you learn in high school. Most of us just did the minimum to get through our exams because we knew we'd never bother with it after. But here, you get 6 girls who are learning a whole dictionary just to ditch it after two years. WHAT'S THE POINT?
END OF SPOILER.
Bottom line: Sport is important business for the boys not for the girls.
I rounded up with the inferior digit because as much as I loved the characters.... And I truly loved them mind you... There were too many things that spoiled the enjoyment for me. I understand the manga has got a high rate because it certainly differs from your usual shoujo fare... but It's not because it's a shoujo that exigence in different aspects has to be lowered as far as I am concerned.
Would I recommend it? Hmm... Nope. If you're in the mood for a romance... Well, look for another series that focus on it. If you're in the mood for a sports manga: there are plenty out there far more exciting. I haven't read Haikyuu!!, but it's a pretty well known volleyball manga which got an anime adaptation.
In spite of my dissatisfaction, I've got to say I'm happy to see that such attempts at sports manga for girls exist. It is pretty frustrating to always see the cool stuffs and stories handed to the boys. I guess the publishing system in magazines in Japan is to blame for such uniformity and one has to be happy that sometimes, girls do get something different. So that's nothing to sniff at but... better luck next time?
I like how this manga is sport related because I don't know much about volleyball. It's interesting that volleyball and romance are both in this manga. Nobara goes through so much and matures through the course of the story. Throughout the manga you can see the passion the boys and girls have for volleyball.
Overall: Crimson Hero is a sports manga centered around a young girl named Nobara. Along with the volleyball-driven plot, the manga also incorporates a love story--or love triangle.
I am a fan of a good love story and I felt that this one worked with the overall storyline of the manga. It is not your typical sappy love story, as, in my opinion, the game of volleyball matters more to the main character, Nobara, than love does. (although both do matter to her).
Story: I enjoyed the story very much. There were a few things I'd like to see elaborated on, but other than that
I found it to be a solid manga with barely any plot holes. I'll admit that some events are easy to guess, but others came to me as a surprise.
Art: I like the artwork a lot. The characters are all drawn beautifully. I just had a slight issue with some of the facial expressions- it seemed as if the characters did not have a large array of expressions.
Character: Honestly, I like Nobara. She's tough, but also flawed. She is a round character rather than a flat character and I found her easy to like.
Do not fear for this review contains NO spoilers.
This manga is not average at all. The characters display immense maturity which makes the story all the more realistic. If you are tired of cheesy romances and cliché plots, then this manga will definitely spice up your life.
Nobara, main protagonist, is very serious about volleyball however is NOT a stone cold warrior. She is an average high school teenager struggling to become stronger and more independent. What is generally seen in shoujo manga is that the romance takes a very central position in the
plot however that is not the case with this manga.
Nobara not only grows as a character as she encounters various challenges through volleyball but ALSO in dealing with her romantic feelings towards other characters. If this entire manga revolved around volleyball then the story would, no doubt, be slightly boring but Nobara encounters feelings of love and decides how to face them. The plot is in fact strong enough without any romance as Nobara is a very deep character and her growth itself is compelling enough to keep one interested in the manga. HOWEVER as there is enough romance to jazz things even more, the story gets even more FANTASTIC!
The art gets a perfect 10 as there are no irritating blushing spasms that characters have. Those to me are extremely unrealistic. The characters of course DO blush, but just the perfect amount. The art is otherwise really beautiful and each character shows a lot of expression. (I'm a stickler for art)
This manga is however not perfect. Although this manga contains a refreshing sight of maturity in characters, they are still high school teenagers who don't know how to perfectly deal with life. I really would have liked it even more if the main characters had chosen to deal with their problems together, through their romance, and hence shown more scenes where they grow together but Nobara is stubborn and takes very independent decisions (which can also be admired in fact). There are enough squeal worthy moments in the romance but I would have liked it if the manga showed more of the main couple's high school life together.
This manga was utterly compelling. I finished it within two days and stayed up the entirety of last night finishing it. Anyone who liked Chihayafuru will love this as well!