Manga Review: Special A

Manga Review: Special ASpecial A by Maki Minami
Published by VIZ Media on November 2, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Her whole life, Hikari Hanazono has been consumed with the desire to win against her school rival, Kei Takishima--at anything. He always comes out on top no matter what he does, and Hikari is determined to do whatever it takes to beat this guy...somehow At age 6 Hikari lost to Kei in an impromptu wrestling match. Now, at 15, Hikari joins "Special A," a group of the top seven students at a private academy, for the opportunity to trounce the guy who made her suffer her first defeat.

Special A’s main focus is upon romance and friendship, which is pretty standard for shoujo series. When I read this the first time, I liked it quite a bit, although even on the first read-through I was exceedingly irritated by the constant repetition of the descriptions of the seven SA members, which happen in every chapter for the first few volumes. This makes sense, considering how manga is published (by chapter in magazines), but once they are combined into tankobons (volumes), it really is frustrating for the reader.

This series is definitely guilty of the old Shakespearean comedy fault/formula of pairing everyone off, regardless of whether the match really seems to work or not. Some couples are charming, like Tadashi and Akira, but Jun and Sakura never really made sense to me. Hikari and Kei, who I supported on my first read-through, I now found myself kind of tired of, since they just enact the same things over and over again.

Speaking of Kei and Hikari, I both like their rivalry and hate it. What I like is that Hikari is such a strong character and that he has such strong love for her. What really gets my goat, though, is that she never once gets to beat him in a single contest (unless you count the fact that he admitted to his feelings first, but since she didn’t, I don’t either). Yeah, it’s hot that he’s so good at everything, but does the man really have to be superior at everything? I love that Hikari continues to be hopeful of winning and never gives up, but I would have liked to see her win at least once. Kei also is incredibly jealous, which is completely ridiculous and unfair considering how trusting Hikari is.

Special A definitely has some cute moments and I recommend it for shoujo fans that like to see everyone paired off by the end. For me, it just did not have enough depth or story to justify carrying on for so long.

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