High School Debut

Alt titles: Koukou Debut

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Szwagier's avatar By Szwagier on Oct 30, 2009

Shoujo is genre that suffers the most from the disease known as "Too much cliche". After all,  there is limited list of possible events, that can happen in high school romance.Some of the mangakas don't care much about it, and their titles are usually predictable and boring. Others try to cover it by making their characters go through some unbelievable ordeals (taken probably from soap operas) - those mangas usually are ridicolous and laughable. But there also are cases, when author figures a way to use the cliche as an advantage instead of a flaw - and that's how rare gems like "High School Debut" are born.

Story - 7.8/10

The story is about a girl, inexperienced in love, trying to form a relatonship (and in later chapters, maintain the one she got ). Taking a quick glance on a list of events, occuring in this manga - it's all the stuff, that Shoujo romance have done over a dozen times already. Bad experience in the past, embarassment when talking with loved one, jealousy, appearance of ex-girlfriend, bullying, overnight trip... There isn't anything particulary innovative in the topic selection. So why is this manga good? There are few reasons, but they all have one point in common - Haruna.

To put is simply - Haruna is not your typical Shoujo heroine. And as author shows in this manga, once you put an original character in the center of a story, it all shifts into something new and refreshing. It can be noticed already at the very beginning. Out of all the things she could do, Haruna asks Yoh to be her coach in ways of being attractive to guys. And the reason for that request, is that she wants a boyfriend, cuz she read too much Shoujo mangas. This title isn't just a romance - it's also a parody of the genre. Everytime some cliche scene is introduced, it is laughed at due to actions of completely clueless heroine. For example - the classical "older girl bullying" is quickly trashed, since tomboyish Haruna beats up all the bullies. Even the only scene, when there is a bit more serious drama, is stripped of the sad tones by the nonsensity of the characters taking part in it.

While the parody is the key to the originality of this title, it's not the only key to it's success. Along the  sharp comedy there is also heartwarming, and very cute romance. Haruna tries so hard, that it brings a smile, when her unusual actions end up succesful. Since most of the troubles are caused by comedy parts, there is no need for a heavy drama. And thanks to that, the story is drawn in really light colors and leaves optimistic and cheerful impression.

Of course - it's not perfect.  Some plot twists (especially at latter part) come from nowhere, and feel slightly out of place. Asami sudden outburst of brother complex, seems like just a random idea, that author decided to throw in, without much thought. I mean - if this happened 20 chapter earlier, I would buy it, but at the place it occurs it seems really artificial. Also the ending seems kinda rushed, almost as if mangaka run out of ideas, or the editors suddenly gave a deadline. It wouldn't be good if this was too stretched, but I think there was space for at least 10 more chapters

Art - 6.5/10

 It's not that the art is somehow ugly. I often thought, that drawing of Haruna are pretty, and at most "touching moments", when the art should deliver the emotions, it did it job well. The problem I have with this drawing style is that it makes almost all characters look like junkies. For what reason is there a second line under male character eyes? Are they all having bags under the eyes? Do they have sleep problems? And what's with the eyes? This weird way of drawing pupils might be a try to make it more realistic, but the result is that, for example Asami look like some kind of freaky monster (or at some points like a retard) ...  I might be a bit harsh on that score, but it's been bugging me the whole time I was reading.

Characters - 8.2/10

Strong female lead is (unfortunately) not a common occurence in the shoujo genre. Most of the stories either have a fragile, indecisive crybaby or cheerful but useless girl with trauma. That's why strong-willed Haruna, with ther optimistic, tomboyish attitude and monstrous strength is really refreshing character. Now add to that the fact, that most of her knowledge of how world works comes from shoujo mangas and magazines, and you have character that will not only make you smile and think "cute", but also make you laugh a lot. She may be clueless, but she isn't stupid and her "outside of the box" ideas often turns out to be charming in it's own way.

Yoh in any other shoujo manga would be an ass. If I have to quickly describe him it would be "male tsundere". He is the type of guys that gets embarassed easily, and in normal circumstances he would cover it with words that would lead to another 2 chapter of pointless drama. But since he is paired with Haruna he is often forced to voice his emotions (which obviously makes him even more embarassed). His sceptical and gloomy nature combined with the overly positive nature of his girlfriend provides a really charming relationship.

Then there are the "close friends". Since they got some pages for a bit of sidestory on them, they are portrayed quite nicely. Perhaps they aren't perfectly realistic, but they are convincible, and for parody that's good enough I guess.

The rest of the cast is quite typical - from fragile ex, through affectionate kouhai up to weird family  - they are all shaped for a specific reason (in most cases comedy, in some very light drama).

Overall - 7.8/10

Most of the shoujo mangas should be recommended only to genre lovers, since no one else would be able to read them seriously ( though I always say, they are good comedies in disguise, and the fact that they are trying to be serious is most hilarious ). But this title I can easily recommend just to any fan of good romance. It's nice and short (only 52 chapters) story, filled with heartwarming moments and funny actions.

7.8/10 story
6.5/10 art
8.2/10 characters
7.8/10 overall
BlackRozeOtaku's avatar By BlackRozeOtaku on Dec 30, 2009

yay my first review!!!(sorry its too short or watever!) well anyways......I loved this manga!!!! Back when it would be updated on mangafox i was probably the first one to read the latest chapter cuz i thought it was that good!kinda still sad that its over!!! >.< anyways...the story revolves around a optimistic girl who is dreaming to land a boyfriend in high school(this usually practically every girl's dream..haha)after going through middle school being a tomboy and super athletic.The only prob is that she has the fashion sense of a dead rat!(excuse my bad analogy!!!)The only possible grim light of hope is Yoh,a boy who is loved by all the girls and has extremely awesome fashion sense.However....HE HATES GIRLS.then things happen(dont want to spoil alot) and he decides to help her and yahdy yadhy yadda.....! the main thing im trying to get across is that its a great series!lol. of course the main chick is a ditz so problems occur....watelse......well all i really got to day  is that its heartwarming and gets u addicted! a must read(:

9/10 story
8/10 art
10/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Azami's avatar By Azami on Sep 18, 2010

Overall, I thought it was pretty sweet. I had my fan-girl moment at the end, but at the same time, I wasn't satisfied. It felt like a cliffhanger at the end, I minded and at the same time I didn't. It was a light romance manga, which I appreciated. There are a lot of good reviews on this manga online, but there are a few bad ones. Haruna was ditsy at moments which she shouldn't be at times, but I really loved her. In many ways, Haruna is unique. She was very outspoken about things and voiced her opinion many times. This manga made me smile and sometimes groan at certain times, but you could tell Haruna was head over heels with Yoh. I had a few problems with Yoh in the beginning, because in the first few volumes of the manga, it seemed like Yoh loved her, but not NEAR as much as Haruna loved him, he gradually made progress with her until the end. It's  unoriginal as many say, but it's really the characters that make it unique (I  liked how Yoh was pretty shy and embarrassed about his feelings and covered it up but still managed to make it cute). Although only the main characters got any real development, I actually liked Mami and Asaoka alot than I thought I would.

The story, as I said, was in many ways very original, but the fact is still there. Haruna. If Haruna had not been what she's been in the manga, I'd actually stop reading despite my reading compulsive disorder. I absolutely hate girls in manga like that (the weepy, weak-willed ones), which is probably the reason why I liked Haruna so much despite how dense she was.

 The art was beautiful, BUT, as much as I liked it, like Szwagier said, the lines under the male's eyes really bothered me. It made them look tired and I was EXTREMELY glad that when Yoh smiled there weren't any lines. I really liked how the mangaka captured Yoh's expression when he laughed or genuinely SMILED, because you could tell he was really happy. :)) 

Overall, 8.6 :)

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7.9/10 story
9/10 art
8.5/10 characters
8.6/10 overall