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.
The chaos of the start of a new year is always fun to watch if you let the main cast interact with the new first-years. That happens more when you have clubs like we see here with the sports side of it and that helps a lot to blend things in and for the second-years to take on some responsibility. And that’s something that Taiki does take seriously, especially since he’s focused on team-building and a positive environment for everyone. We see this unfold when it comes to Hayuto who definitely has a far more aggressive style of play and interaction when it comes to how he should view his teammates. He’s not looking for guidance and the like but rather wants to use anger and intensity to bolster his play in order to win. It takes all types to play the game and I’m glad we get this, especially since Hayuto keeps mistaking Taiki as another first-year, as it’ll either add tension or slowly help to bring him into the way this club runs and operates.
We also see Taiki interacting with Hyodo’s younger sister as she ends up showing up to school early at the same time that Taiki and Chinatsu do. She’s appreciative of his suggestion to improve and claims it has already and he encourages her properly – which catches the eye of Chinatsu. It’s not exactly jealousy but she does ding Taiki a bit over the way he looks at her – which was likely very innocent from his point of view – and it’s fun to see how he reacts to this because he’s not one to think like that. When the two find a place in the park later in the day as a place just for them to hang out she gives him a little more grief, especially since he can’t quite articulate who she is at first. But, thankfully, it’s pushed to the side as we see the two of them just get a bit silly – even if it cuts off before we get to the good silly stuff. It’s something that I hope we don’t get a lot of tension around even though I expect it because I just want to see these two have some quality time without any major drama for a bit.
There are a lot of small one-panel moments and gags that pop up throughout this episode, such as the whole climbing through the window and whose responsibility is he kind of things, and it works well. There’s an energy and outgoing nature to these new characters that we didn’t quite get with the original group as they were introduced and it’s a lot of fun to watch as it all comes together. The badminton team itself is going to face some challenges and we’re sure to see some for Chinatsu as well since they have over a dozen new members, but what I want to see more of is time between Chinatsu and Taiki outside of school and enjoying each other’s company – and her being the aggressive kind of young woman that we’ve gotten a few teases of so far. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: October 15th, 2023