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):
With this series launching back in the spring of 2021 in Japan as Ao no Hako, it was as part of a number of new Weekly Shonen Jump titles added last year. It’s now moving into its second year and is only getting better and better as creator Kouji Miura definitely has some talent here. I had randomly picked the title in the late teens from the Shonen Jump site as something to try out a few chapters ago and got hooked on it – which is why I’m still here talking about it. Part of the appeal is the generally shorter chapters, often coming in at 16 or 18 pages, but we’ve been getting longer chapters for a bit now and it’s definitely helped a lot. 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 series hitting chapter fifty here, there’s an interesting change that’s starting to become more realized, as expected. Frustratingly, we are in the whole cultural festival event period so we get to see Taiki’s class working through Snow White. Hina’s doing great even with an expanded script that’s a little more filled with innuendo that’s making him uncomfortable. While she’s shining there, everyone else in class is super impressed with Taiki as he manages things, helping out everywhere and doing as much as he can. It’s elevating his presence well among everyone, though a lot of the chatter is among the ladies, not that he notices it. But it is Chinatsu that notices it when she overhears a bit of it at one point. It’s definitely amusing to see how Taiki and Chinatsu have reached a new equilibrium, such as at the supply store here, in how they talk to each other.
Things take a far more interesting turn later as we get Chinatsu at the apartment with her mother and she’s spending her time watching a drama. When her mother comes in after a bath and provides commentary on the show and how the woman in it is being unfair, that has her looking at her relationship with Taiki and Hina in a new way. She’s really grappling with this as we see her shift from the couch to the tub itself, kicking around a rubber duckie along the way, and it shows a really good side of her in how she’s trying to think of what she’s done and is doing, and whether it really is right or wrong with her. There’s a real conflict going on in her heart over things and she’s tried to make it so her head is running the show, but she’s realizing that her heart may have snuck her over the line more than she realized.
Blue Box continues to be a strong series and an installment like this puts more thought and character material into its story than most do in dozens of volumes. I really like where Miura is going with this, even if I’m not a huge fan of her and Taiki being together still, as it’s giving us something with complexity and nuance. I already want a spinoff series with Haruya and his significant other so I’m not surprised we’d get more depth with this storyline. It’s just coming a bit sooner than I expected. It also helps that these are some gorgeous pages and character designs that give us the weight it needs to tell the tale it does of the characters. Just fantastic stuff.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: April 24th, 2022