Ever since middle school, Takahiro Ozu was famous in the world of track and field as the "long jump specialist." But after losing his final competition in high school, he hung up his track shoes for good. Now in college, having taken up smoking, he just wants to get a girlfriend and lead a normal student life.
Noriko Watsuki has had a crush on Takahiro since she first saw him jump and wants him to join the college track team so she can get close to him. Yuuki "The Headphone Girl? Hoguchi, a high school student who likes to hang out at the university, claims Takahiro took her virginity 13 years ago when he was in kindergarten. She considers him her property to do with as she pleases. Throw in a full cast of zany and unique characters, sprinkle with fan service, and you have the world of Inu Neko Jump.
Volume 4: Korekara mo Tsuzuku Ongaku (pilot)
Inu Neko Jump is not primarily a sports manga. It's also a romance and a comedy - hard to pull off altogether, huh? Well, this manga did it well.
The story was decent -- a retired high-school long jumper goes to college where he meets a lot of weird people (on the track team that he doesn't want to join) and meets one special person who forces him to jump again and make him realize his talents again, even if that's not her intention. It's touching, it's funny. But it won't bring you to your knees in tears or leave you wanting an encore especially bad. When it's over, it's over and you say "That was a nice manga," and move onto the next.
The art was definitely questionable. Personally, it didn't bother me. But it could prove to be a turn-off to some people. For one thing, it's very cartoonish and many of the characters all have the same eyes. It can be confusing at times. The scenery was pretty excellent, though. The mangaka's characters are cutely short and squat (save a few characters maybe) and make them all look huggable. Especially the protagonist, Ozu.
Character for this manga rested strongly on Ozu and Yuki. Ozu's a pretty mellow character who has all this pent-up energy that he should be using on long jump (his and Yuki's--when he was a child anyway--was to orbit the earth). He's a bit of a push-over, and can sometimes be a little exaggerated in character. Sometimes his character contradicts himself, by being cool and confident and other times his personality is that of a nerdy otaku.
Yuki is afraid of people (thus wears headphones all the time), but she's bold when with Ozu. A bit crazy, she made a mistake of thinking Ozu stole her virginity thirteen years before. When they're together, she talks to him. She makes a bit of a pet of Ozu, and gets extremely jealous when other girls are with him. This leads to dislike of Watsuki, a girl that Ozu went to high school with. Together, though, as Ozu regains his spirit for the sport and Yuki learns to actually connect with a person, they have a fantastic dynamic.
Overall, I'd recommend this manga to someone who wants a lighthearted romance manga with a slight rekindling of the spirit.