Ao Haru Ride is becoming pretty big but the story sounded like any typical shoujo so I was reluctant to start it. Yet at the same time, I wanted to give the author a chance to pull me into her storytelling, so I started with her completed work Strobe Edge.
How should I describe this manga?
There are plenty of clichés to point out, but ultimately, Strobe Edge covers what it feels like to fall in love and the heartache you’re bound to feel when it happens.
It’s shoujo, but the eyes are especially big in this one. Other than that, everything’s decent.
I’m not going to say something stupid like I couldn’t connect with them because to me, characters don’t need to be relatable in order for me to like them. However, the characters in this manga are likeable. The protagonists aren’t annoying and the side characters have their reasons for doing whatever they’re doing.
But in all honesty, everybody was sort of bland. I didn’t really fall in love with any of them and neither did I cheer them on. Considering the fact that most shoujos have annoying heroines and “I’m too cool and cocky for you” love interests, these characters were more chill, so I give them a 6.
Okay, so far, it may sound like I didn’t really enjoy the manga. That’s…sort of true? I guess?
Look, this isn’t a bad manga. By no means is it a bad manga! It’s decent! Believe me, it is! But this is MY review of Strobe Edge, and ultimately, what I feel about it. So here’s MY issue with this manga:
It’s the emotions. When I read this manga, I felt like the author was trying too hard. That may sound harsh, but that’s what I felt when I read it. The emotions just felt stiff. When something sad happened, I felt as if the author was nudging you with her elbow and saying, “And THIS is what you’re supposed to feel! Do you feel it? It hurts, right? Right? Do you feel that? It’s the heartache. Right?”
The appropriate thing to say is “show, don’t tell,” which is really ironic since this is a manga. I guess one of the issues is the constant internal dialogue. The characters repeat their feelings over and over again internally that it becomes annoying.
And the author has her characters—especially the main character—say every single detail they're feeling about their love-life (internally of course). To some, that may not be an issue, but to me, it’s as if the author’s treating me like a fool. It’s as if she’s assuming I won’t be able to understand the emotions she’s so heavily trying to draw out of her characters and their situations unless she literally draws them out for me to read.
But the thing is that the author’s milked the emotions so much that now I have no use for them. I get it, their actions bring up consequences and those consequences affect their emotions that they don’t know what to do with. I get it! Do you really have to repeat the process over and over again, as if I didn’t get it the first few times with the first few characters?
Strobe Edge is on the border between bad and good for me, leaning more towards good, but unfortunately, not there.
Now, will you enjoy this manga? If you enjoy shoujo tropes, then it’s VERY likely you will. Did I enjoy it? Not really, but I do acknowledge that it’s definitely a decent manga. There are deeper emotions to experience besides girl falls in love with boy, boy already has a girlfriend, yada, yada, yada, other teenage angst.
I actually went and reread the manga to see if my feelings about it had changed over the few months that passed since I finished it. I couldn’t handle it and skipped some (many) chapters, but I still shrugged most of the time and pursed my lips as the author spelled out every emotion possible. (Maybe this is why many people enjoyed it. Everything’s spelled out in front of you so you’re not confused as to what’s going on. But that just wastes time in my opinion. If this were a novel, I’d say there were too many unnecessary details). As you can see, my view of Strobe Edge remains unchanged from then ‘til now.
Again, if you’re into shoujo, give it a chance. You’ll most likely enjoy it. If you’re not into shoujo, the choice is up to you. A warning though: Strobe Edge is 10 volumes long, so you’ll be using up a good amount of time to finish it as a whole.