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Blue Box #126 Manga Review

4 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.

“Take Our Time”

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.

With Taiki and Chinatsu nearly being discovered in the previous chapter having lunch together, that set up a lot of tension that we’d see a big reveal in this chapter. That doesn’t happen as the other students end up looking elsewhere for what they’re after and that’s a moment where the pair catch their breath. But it’s also a moment that gets them to realize that they don’t want to make the big reveal just yet. The conversation about it makes sense but what throws Taiki off is when she asks for a hug and this one becomes a big and strong hug that doesn’t catch him by surprise like their first hug before. And he really leans into it for good reason because it does feel good and makes him be a typical young man in the way that he enjoys the scent of her. It’s good stuff and exactly what you’d expect from this situation.

The rest of the chapter largely focuses on the race itself that’s coming up and it’s enjoyable to watch as things fall into place for it. Haryu makes it clear that the two of them are going to the nationals but that, like this race, Taiki needs to be aware of competitors coming up behind him. It’s a good way to remind him of things and for him to push himself. There’s a lot of good artwork to it and the fun of athletic struggle that we know that everyone here takes seriously. And watching Taiki getting caught up in watching Chinatsu getting closer to winning is a lot of fun even if it costs his team the win and the treat at the end. It’s just pure Taiki even if it gets him into a little bit of trouble.

In Summary:
This chapter comes with the news that an anime adaptation is in the works for it and I’m pretty delighted. A big part of that is because the anime story will be new to me as I don’t believe I started until around chapter nineteen, so a lot of that initial setup I haven’t read. This chapter is a lot of fun even if it does unfortunately push things down the road a bit that I want to see explored but it does it in a natural kind of way that works. It’s a pretty fun piece and seeing Taiki cheer Chinatsu during the race is a lot of fun and I expect more of these kinds of minor slips to sneak out and things will be revealed sooner rather than later.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: November 19th, 2023