High School Debut

Alt title: Koukou Debut

Vol: 15; Ch: 52
2003 - 2008
4.075 out of 5 from 2,950 votes
Rank #2,279
High School Debut

Haruna has never been feminine; she was the star pitcher of the softball team in middle school and didn't focus on relationship, but now that she's in high school she has a new goal: to have a shoujo manga-style relationship. While Haruna tries to be attractive and get a boyfriend, she has no idea how to accomplish her goal; and thus, she recruits the reluctant Yoh as her coach. Yoh is very attractive and dislikes women and the problems they cause, but is impressed by Haruna's determination and agrees upon one condition: she promises not to fall in love with him. Thus begins the crazy relationships of Haruna, Yoh and their friends as they all struggle to find themselves and their true loves.

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This was a really juvenile story about a doe-eyed hyper high school girl in complete infatuation with her first relationship.  Now, I liked Haruna a lot.  She was a charming character a lot of the time, really strong and energetic.  But this story has been told a million times and if it's botched, it's a dreadfully boring story, and this was.  Kimi ni todoke would be an example of a good rendering of the exact same issues and characters.  Haruna is desperate for love and for anyone (she actually says this! anyone who likes me will do!) and she starts dating Yoh almost immediately.  So whereas usually with this type of cool, indifferent, stoic Yoh character can be quite appealing in a romance story because of the slow development and the significance of him showing any emotion, all of that is washed away when they start their relationship.  Everyone knows that in a good romance, the best part is almost always the beginning just before they reveal their feelings, as they draw close then pull away a dozen times.  This doesn't happen in this story at all.  Haruna's devotion to Yoh might be cute in another story, but it just comes across as desperate and like her entire life and existence revolves around this boy.  And this is quite true since there is not one episode where anything develops about anything not involving Yoh and him being either mad at her or distant or what to get him for his birthday.  Haruna is always freaking out about being a good girlfriend and I can't even think of one scene where she isn't obsessing about it with her friends or alone in her bedroom.  The story has no substance, no depth.  Yoh himself may have a lot to do with this.  The way he is drawn, he almost has no emotions.  When there are close ups of his face meant to convey something significant, I almost never knew what that was because his face is always the same and it always looks blank.  There is no affection between them and little romance.  The story went nowhere and I read through it in 2 days just so I could be done with it and move on to anything else.


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 - 7.8/10The 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 chaptersArt - 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 - 8.2/10Strong 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 - 7.8/10Most 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.

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