Love expresses itself in many ways, emotionally speaking, but one of the more nuanced ways it can appear is in admiration. Someone you love is often an aspirational mirror, a template of what you also want to become as a person. You can't help but be in awe of what that person has done with their life, and so you strive to find the best ways to bring yourself closer to them, not just emotionally, but as a peer. It's that kind of love that drives Taiki Inomata, the lead of Kouji Miura's Viz romance series Blue Box.
Taiki is a student preparing for his first year in a high school that shares its facilities with his old middle school. He's practicing with the high school badminton team, and thanks to that, it means he's been able to witness firsthand the developing skills of Chinatsu Kano, an up and coming basketball player a year above him. Chinatsu is talented, charming and beautiful, and Taiki can't help but fall for her hard. And when an errant pass from Chinatsu drills Taiki in the face, the avenues are opened for them to make a personal connection.
Now, being a teenager, Taiki proceeds to second guess every word he says, worried that the tiniest slip-up will send Chinatsu running for the hills, but despite that, he and Chinatsu build a blooming friendship. They bond over their moms' shared history playing basketball, and soon Chinatsu's drive to help her team qualify for Nationals pushes Taiki to improve his badminton skills and do the same. And when a family move means Chinatsu has to live with Taiki's family, their futures become more intertwined than he had hoped…
Miura's writing places Taiki at the forefront of the story, and while he has some classic tropes in his personality – lack of confidence, reading too much into situations, being awkward when worried how others look at his connection with Chinatsu – he's not just a blank slate Gary Stu. While winning Chinatsu's heart becomes a driving force in his wanting to excel at badminton, it's not his only motivation. He loves the sport and wants to do the best he can. Having Chinatsu as an example simply drives him to be better. As the reader, you're pushed to root both of them on, not just as a couple, but as competitors.
Blue Box also serves as a showcase for Kouji Miura's blending of art styles. Miura brings a good sense of dynamism to her sports scenes, whether it's Chinatsu's jump shot, Taiki's reaction to a serve, or Taiki's friend Hina showing off her grace as an aspiring gymnast. But most of the story takes place outside of the games, so Miura deftly shifts from shonen action to shojo emotion without a hitch. Miura's art makes the characters emotive and easy to interpret. Taiki is intense but easily frazzled, Chinatsu is warm but imperfect, and the supporting cast each has their own style and personality.
In the end, Blue Box reminded me a lot of Mitsuru Adachi's classic baseball and romance manga, Cross Game, in which sport and love are both equal driving forces in the story. It can be a tricky balancing act, but when it's done right, it's an extremely gratifying read. And Blue Box is just that – energetic, sweet, exciting, and just a lot of fun. I'm excited to see where Miura takes Taiki and Chinatsu next in their shared journey, both as athletes and as people.
Blue Box Manga Volume 1
Blue Box manga volume 1 features story and art by Kouji Miura.
A badminton guy falls for a basketball girl. Do these sports-crossed lovers have a chance?
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?Add to CartLearn More