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Blue Box #79 Manga Review

7 min read
AO NO HAKO © 2021 by Kouji Miura / SHUEISHA Inc.

“Shopping for a Tracksuit”

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):
With this series launching back in the spring of 2021 in Japan as Ao no Hako, it’s moving really well through its second year as it’s only getting better and better. Mangaka Kouji Miura definitely has some talent here in not just the storytelling but the visual design side, presumably with her team of assistants, to give us something that feels really rich and detailed. 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. 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 continuing change of pace within the series, a lot is going on here and it’s definitely got an authentic feeling to it. Ayame is confronting Taiki about things in her own way, pushing him around a bit as manager, and trying to make him feel guilty for what he’s done to Hina. But Taiki holds firm in how he expresses this in that he had to be honest and did it as gently as he could, all things told. Ayame simply can’t understand how Taiki could view anyone as better than Hina and it delves into some of how he can’t just snap back right into being friends with her because it wouldn’t be fair to her as she processes all that happened. We do see Ayame starting to get this a bit and soften a touch toward Taiki while still not realizing that it’s Chinatsu that he’s interested in. And Hina, for her part, is going through the hard coping phase which is made worse by not wanting to be in the same gym as both Taiki and Chinatsu.

While there are one or two who suspect things are changing a bit, the time we focus on Taiki and Chinatsu is really good. His asking her to spend some time with him has him on the spot to suggest an activity and it’s silly that he asks for help in getting a new tracksuit, but it helps to not make this a big deal situation. And she’s able to suggest visiting a cafe she wants to check out so they can have some time together in that kind of setting as well. It’s cute watching them go through this little dance and then set plans for after his practice on Saturday. You never see Taiki so eager to wrap up his session and get to where he needs to go, which is making some people curious, but it all comes down to that moment where he sees her waiting and watching the clouds. You get that sense of him falling in love with her all the more in such a moment and it’s delightfully heartwarming.

In Summary:
Blue Box delivers well chapter after chapter and we’ve had some really strong ones recently with the camp and all that happened there. The confrontations have been executed really well and we’re seeing more of the fallout. You can tell that Taiki is struggling some with what happened with Hina but he’s also giving her space to figure it out and not crowd her while also making it clear to himself what he’s after. And making actual moves toward it rather than dragging his feet as he has for so long, which Haryu points out along the way. It’s definitely some welcome progress and change that I’m hoping leads to some good payoff and exploration of more varied dynamics. I really just want to see these two actively together and navigating what that’s like with all of its strengths and problems that come with it.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: November 20th, 2022

 

 

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