Lovefool 11.26.12 | Not With a Bang

We expect love to arrive with fireworks, but as the heroine of Io Sakisaka’s Strobe Edge learns, it can be much harder trying to figure out if those butterflies in the stomach are the real deal.


Somewhere, someone is falling in love. We can’t be sure how or where or with whom. We don’t know if it’s one of those things where their stomach is falling to the floor and they’re slinking over to say hello to someone infinitely intriguing who just walked in the door or if they’re sitting on their couch looking over to the other end at their best friend and wondering where the hell that inappropriate stray thought came from. And you know what? Maybe they don’t know, either. Falling in love is awkward and weird and I know that people are like “Hey, you’ll know when it happens.”
Nerdlings, that is a total lie. Because everything has to happen for the first time and falling in love isn’t like breaking your ankle or something. You know when you break your ankle. Figuring out that the stomach-falling-out feeling isn’t bad cafeteria tuna, the blush isn’t general shyness—that’s complicated. I wish I remember the first time I actually thought that I was in love. Of course, I wasn’t, because I was, like, 12. But I bet I was confused by the whole thing. I mean, boys had always been around, being boys, but what did one of them do to make me get that awful stomach flutter for the first time? Was it just a pretty face? Did someone pick up a fallen pen? Help me carry my awfully heavy debate tubs up some stairs?
Ninako Kinoshita, the heroine of Io Sakisaka’s sweetly drawn Strobe Edge, has no idea what is going on but she knows she’s been getting funny feelings in her stomach when Ren Ichinose, resident BMOC, walks by. All the girls in her class are completely in love with him, but she’s not exactly sure what that entails. Helpfully, that veritable Greek chorus of high school girls is also watching her and her best friend, Daiki, pretty closely because Daiki is clearly painfully smitten with Ninako and they, naturally, have input as to how Ninako’s love life should play out for their amusement. Ren, however, is also quietly and vaguely secretly acknowledging Ninako and being pretty darn nice, too, which is not really something he does that often, apparently, choosing instead to pretend that the flocks of teenage girls watching him from classroom windows just aren’t there. I can’t say I blame him, either, that’s a little weird. Viewing galleries aside, it’s all very deliciously high school and there’s even a bit of a twist in our tale, which is amazing because I thought I would always, always be able to see what was coming in these books. But, no, you got me, VIZ. Well played.
The sweet part of this book isn’t being fooled (though that is pretty fun when it happens), it’s watching Nina try to figure out what’s going on here. Why, on impulse, she buys the same kind of drink that Ren drinks even though it’s really not her thing. Why he pretends to be asleep and stays on the train to help her get home after an injury. If she is a butterfly cell phone charm kind of girl or a funny tiny fruit cell phone charm kind of girl. What, exactly, constitutes “leading someone on” and where the boundaries need to be redrawn after she realizes that she’s not in love with Daiki and probably won’t be.
It’s kind of weird, though, reading Strobe Edge and thinking about what changes and what doesn’t change between falling in love at 14 and 24. The adult version is no less scary: are you in love? Do you just want to talk about movies and make out a little? Are you just admiring the view? Done all that and still getting the stomach wibble? Great, you’re in love! So now what? Do you actually like gin and tonics or are you going to stay with the craft beer that’s gotten you faithfully this far? Have you really just been hating something it turns out you kind of enjoy out of spite? How much are you going to keep talking to that boy that you know was hoping maybe he’d end up being the heir to your pants despite the fact that you’re just not interested in him that way because he’s fun and has been a good friend while he was waiting?
Further volumes, of course, will show whether or not Nina keeps the not-really-her-style cell phone charm or lets Daiki buy her a new one that’s more in keeping with who she’s been. Either charm will be beautifully rendered by Sakisaka, but it remains to see which one will win the day since Ren is still making some subtle eyes and a sweet classmate of theirs is rushing in to comfort Daiki when he looks a little blue. No high schooler is an island and high school girls, god love ’em, are opportunistic little things. But then again, it’s hard to tell who we’ll be when we’re chasing after love, sweet love. | Erin Jameson
STROBE EDGE © 2007 by Io Sakisaka/SHUEISHA Inc.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply