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Blue Box #23 Manga Review

3 min read
it continues to balance the various themes Blue Box continues to work surprisingly well for me as I'm in a bit of a sports wasteland these days.well.
AO NO HAKO © 2021 by Kouji Miura / SHUEISHA Inc.

“I’ll Definitely Get It In!”

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Kouji Miura
Translation: Christine Dashiell

What They Say
A badminton guy falls for a basketball girl. Do these sports-crossed lovers have a chance?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Getting underway earlier this year in Japan as Ao no Hako as part of a number of new Weekly Shonen Jump titles, it’s from creator Kouji Miura who has had a handful of titles over the last few years since getting formally published back in 2015. I had randomly picked the title from the Shonen Jump site as something to try out a few chapters ago and got hooked on. Though the relationship aspect is simple and the sports elements aren’t deep, the combination of what we do get with the artwork ended up delivering something that made me want to keep coming back for more.

With the matches underway, the focus is heavily on Taiki and his badminton pieces. We get to see the doubles matches for most of this as he and Haryu are going at things with all that they’ve got. It’s not something that focuses heavily on it like a lot of sports manga, i.e. it’s not the whole chapter that goes on for a dozen installments showcasing it blow by blow, but we get the bigger sweep of things. We do see how Taiki is handling himself well here and doing better than expected, and he’s intent and focused, but there are still areas he’s falling short on. But that’s not what Haryu gets on him about but rather the way he starts, at least once or twice, to get caught up in the frustration of the moment rather than facing the game itself.

With it being a two-day event, we see how he’s crashed at home from it after the first day, passed out at the table. Chinatsu knows there are things that you can’t really say about it to help, and maybe even more specific with Taiki and his personality, but she does notice how he writes in his notebook the right things to inspire himself – and she helps a bit with her own message while he sleeps. It’s such a small thing but it does so much to inspire Taiki for the second day that it’s really like magic. I also like that we see how Taiki’s mother is getting the idea that something is slowly brewing here but not saying anything. All of it leads to the brief second day, where Taiki now has to play singles against tough opponents, and isn’t faring well there either, but there’s such a strong progression to his abilities since starting as a first-year that it’s really all positive even if it’s all losses.

In Summary:
Blue Box continues to be an enjoyable series, though this installment feels a bit more disjointed as it moves through three pieces of story here; the first-day match, the brief evening time, and the second-day match. It’s something that really could have been spread out to an additional chapter at least in order to not pack it all in, but it just reinforces that as much as badminton is a cornerstone of the series, it’s not the focus. I really like the small moments with Chinatsu and the impact of it but I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Taiki deals with what he’s facing and how he handles it. Good stuff all around.

Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: October 3rd, 2021