Shoujo Manga Maniacs: Strobe Edge
By: Meg Humphrey
The manga Strobe Edge by Sakisaka Io was a really refreshing take on the often told story of first loves. Ninako is a high school girl that has never experienced love before. Her friends tell her that her childhood friendship with the boy, Daiki (who is, in fact, in love with Ninako) will turn into love. But as they describe what it feels like – tight chest, randomly wanting to cry, etc. – Ninako realizes that she doesn’t feel this way about Daiki, but instead the popular Ren-kun. Ren is fawned over by many girls in the school, yet he doesn’t respond to any of them. Ninako confesses to Ren quickly, is rejected, but still starts a surprising friendship with him. Enter Takumi, Ren’s friend and a serial dater, who has set his sights on Ninako.
I really appreciated the dynamic between Ninako and her girlfriends. Although they all admire the cool Ren-kun, no one in their group is upset when Ninako gradually becomes closer to him. In fact, they are usually delighted that his presence and participation has increased thanks to Ninako’s friendship. When Ninako confides in them that her crush on Ren has developed into a full fledged one-sided love, they support her efforts to confess to him.
There is also a strong presence of friendship between several male characters which is much more rare to see in shoujo manga. During the thirty-nine chapters of the manga, time is spent delving into the relationships between these boys and what the presence of each other has meant to their lives.
Somehow, the trope filled love story in Strobe Edge still feels organic. We see the long and slow process of Ren and Ninako getting to know each other and coming to terms with their feelings. They truly get to know each other and become friends. Their relationship feels stable and true.