After I caught up with Hajimete no Gal, I struck out in search of another romance manga, and I’m happy I did. I found Saotome Senshu.
Like many romances, Saotomi Senshu has chosen to lower the complexity of the story in order to focus on the romance. Let me tell you a secret. In manga, this is a game-winning idea. Most of the best romances have decent stories, but what they trade in for story, they gain in character.
The reason I think Saotome Senshu, Hitakakusu has a rating of 7.32 on MAL (as of May 2018) is for two reasons:
First, the two main characters get together early on, and their relationship has actual progression. You never feel like you’re being led on, or that filler is being thrown in for something meaningless—things found in other manga, such as the author being afraid of actually letting the main couple get together. This is notable for me anyway, as I used to watch a lot of romance anime when I was a tween, and the main pair would either get together at the end, or never get together at all.
Second, I’ve never seen a coach/athlete combo. Not just romance either, like, in anything ever. (Although, I guess I don’t have enough sports manga experience to really see it). Points for originality.
And here we go. The main character is timid and shy. Oh no, you might be thinking, a cliche right off the bat! Well, fear not, he’s also dedicated, driven, and focused. Satoru is a huge boxing fan. He knows all about it, but he’s quite bad at actually boxing.
Saotome confesses to him, something I’ve never seen a female manga character do. And then they have natural relationship progression!! Augh! Finally!
Anyway, that aside, the coach makes Satoru into Saotomi’s trainer, so that they have an excuse to be together all the time. (Because Saotomi is famous, and you don’t want people talking, right? Honestly, I feel like the secrecy is just put in for tension, but I guess tension is good…) I remember there was a scene where their really pushy friend / manager Mito asks them what they’ve done together.
Sex? No. Kiss? No. Have you two even held hands?
Among all this, the pacing remains natural. They really get to know each other before they move to the next step. This manga isn’t like Akikan or Elfen Lied where they’re just immediately making out all the time.
Back to characters; Mito is fairly interesting. I think we all know someone who loves shipping characters, right? Well, Mito has shipped the main characters—but, she’s actually in the story with them. So what happens? Well, I think it’s enough to say that she acts on her ship. Mito becomes quite the orchestrator in later chapters.
The mangaka has a fairly unique style. It looks like heI’m a huge fan. Satoru looks really shabby but entirely lovable, and Saotomi has a stoic, piercing gaze. Expression is top notch, with people like Mito giving us all sorts of interesting looks.
Also, it seems to be a trend among artists to not give their female characters (even warriors) any muscle mass whatsoever. I personally live by a very simple principal: if a character uses weapons, give her the muscles necessary to wield those weapons. (It’s similar to my clothing principal. A character should dress in a way you would expect them to dress themselves.)
Honestly, this might become my new favourite manga. Hajimete no Gal is great, but its release schedule is really long, like once or twice a month. I’m not sure what Saotome Senshu’s is, but it’s really fast. Weekly maybe?
Overall, if you like romance or boxing, or sports, or just a good drama, read Saotome Senshu, Hitakakusu. It’s wonderful!
It might even get higher, depending on how Hajimete no Gal goes, and how this goes. Both series are just starting, and I need a lot more information before I can place a final score on either.
*Update as of May 2018
(Or chapter 68)
As of chapter 68, I have a better grasp of Saotome Senshu. The story has more depth than I had previously expected, although conversely the characters aren’t as amazing as I initially thought. Sort of the reverse of Hajimete no Gal.
Eventually, I’ll write a fully updated review. Hope to see you for it Feel free to follow this blog.