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Blue Box #116 Manga Review

7 min read
A badminton guy falls for a basketball girl. Do these sports-crossed lovers have a chance?
AO NO HAKO © 2021 by Kouji Miura / SHUEISHA Inc.

“It’s Rude”

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Kouji Miura
Translation: Christine Dashiell
Lettering: Mark McMurray

What They Say
Taiki Inomata loves badminton, but he has a long way to go before he can reach nationals. When Taiki sees upperclassman Chinatsu Kano practicing her heart out on the girls’ basketball team, he falls for her hard. After an unexpected turn of events brings the two closer together, sports might not be the first thing on their minds anymore!

Taiki admires Chinatsu from afar, but he doubts that she sees him in the same way. Yet somehow, he musters up the courage to tell her to never give up on her dreams! After such a bold declaration, will Taiki’s fleeting high school romance finally begin?

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 third year as it’s only getting better and better. Mangaka Kouji Miura definitely has some talent here in the storytelling and 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.

As the match day material continues on we get some interesting things unfolding here. In the smaller area, it’s seeing Ayame going up to Kasahara and apologizing for how she acted and the things she said previously, which did prod him a bit. There’s obviously relationship dynamic material at play here as we see how she’s realizing he’s the quiet kind of cool guy and that she’s been mostly drawn to the big flashy guys like Yusa. It turns into some good dialogue about how he’s different but similar to someone like Taiki and that it takes all kinds to make the world turn, but by the way he presents himself and fairly minimally it ends up being a bit mysterious for Ayame and as she starts to view him as something more than just another player on the team, you see how it grows and becomes something more.

When it comes to Taiki, we get a bit of a split but it’s obviously connected. We see how he ends up overhearing Mochizuki talking to another teammate about the whole Taiki saying he was going to the Nationals thing and it leans into how they’ve been around longer and know what kind of player Yusa is. They write him off as something that you do when you’re young but it’s also something that happens when you become comfortable and no longer challenge yourself. There’s some good dialogue about this for Taiki to overhear and combining that with Kasahara’s views on him and Chono, you see how Taiki is the type to hear such things and it only reinforces his intent to win. While we don’t get the full match here between him and Mochizuki, the first blush aspects of it speak well for Taiki in making a statement but also playing to win without letting it become emotional.

In Summary:
Blue Box has an interesting chapter here that works well because it doesn’t always have to focus on the things we often think that it’s about. The time with Ayame and Kasahara has a lot to offer and when you consider so many readers hated her when she first appeared, she’s had a great run of slow growth in good ways. And Kasahara becoming more fleshed out is engaging as well. Taiki’s the main draw and we don’t get him thinking about Chono at all here and just focused on the match and his opponents, taking in how they view things and reaffirming his own desire to win – but not to do so in a reckless way to get there. Really good stuff that leaves you excited for the next installment.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: September 10th, 2023