High School Debut, Vol. 11
By Kazune Kawahara
Published by Viz Media
As this volume begins, Miyabi, the girl in Yoh’s prep class who was very obviously developing a thing for him in the previous volume, starts pushing herself between Yoh and Haruna. Though it is unclear in the beginning how much is intentional, as the volume goes on, she moves into bona fide psycho territory–sending fake messages from Yoh’s phone, blocking Haruna’s calls, and so on. Fortunately, just as this arc is becoming a bit too much to bear, things lighten up with a story in which Haruna’s lack of understanding about the significance of an overnight trip with Yoh runs them both around in circles, bringing the series back into its comfort zone (and me with it).
I won’t lie. I really disliked the first half of this volume. I have very little patience for the too-common portrayal of physically unattractive characters as obvious villains. I’ve long accepted that manga characters–especially shojo manga characters and always the romantic leads–are going to be uniformly beautiful people, even when they begin as ugly ducklings. The idea that people must be (or become) beautiful in order to be loved pervades all media, not just manga, and I’ve learned to clutch my Charlotte Brontë novels closely to my chest, deal with it, and move on.
It is really irksome, then, that in this rare instance in which a character with a plain face and unconventional body type is introduced, she is an angry, loathsome, seriously unbalanced stalker, threatening to steal the good-looking hero away from his cute, perky heroine. (Though even the heroine becomes overweight and unattractive while being kept away from her man–look what happens to a girl deprived of love!) I realize I’m ranting at this point, but I honestly found this story line to be pretty repugnant, especially in a series aimed at teen girls, many of whom may be seeing a young, female character who they can relate to physically for the first time ever in the manga they read, only to find her portrayed as a complete monster.
It is a real testament to the charm of this series, however, that by about ten pages into the next arc it had already won me back. Haruna is adorably innocent, Yoh is adorably devoted, and all is right with the world. I suspect most readers will not have the same extreme reaction to the beginning of volume as I had, but for those who might, take heart! Though the first half of this volume loses some of the fun inherent to this series, by the end it has returned to its usual, delightful self. High School Debut, I still love you.
Volume eleven of High School Debut will be available on September 1st, 2009. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Travis saysJuly 21, 2009 at 3:24 am
I really wish Renai Catalogue would be released in English. One of the main characters, Nozomi, is overweight and not traditionally attractive (and she is actually drawn as visibly overweight rather than, as is often the case, stick skinny but still complaining about being fat). When she’s first introduced, she is bitter about her looks and weight and blames all her problems on being fat. This is contrasted by a minor character who is also fat (again, very visibly so), but is happy with herself and cheerful and has a boyfriend. Over the course of the series, Nozomi struggles with her weight, at one point losing quite a bit and having a makeover. In most series, that would be the end. She would be thin and pretty and find happiness. But in Renai Catalogue, it’s more realistic. She gains the weight back and goes back to her own style, which is quirky and not fashionable. By the end of the series, she not only has a boyfriend (who is hot and has other girls after him), but they have a shotgun wedding. Not that I think the goal of every girl should be to get a man and get married, but in shoujo manga, where that *is* the goal, I love that a fat, homely girl not only got a guy, but it was clear that she had sex, too (fat people never get to have sex!).
(The series also has a lot of other awesome things, like even though the main girl is kind of the typical shoujo heroine who wants to throw away her career for her man (she doesn’t), one of the other main characters, her little sister, ends up leaving her boyfriend to travel around the world and have the career she wants, and *he’s* the one who stays home and waits for her.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 21, 2009 at 7:35 am
That series sounds fantastic!! Argh, yes, fat people never get to have sex! I always used to rant in HP fandom about how fanfic authors always made Neville Longbottom spend the summer at the gym before they’d let him get any. SO WRONG.
I really want to read this series now. *sigh* I wish it was just a liiiittle easier to learn Japanese.
Travis saysJuly 21, 2009 at 7:38 am
If it weren’t 34 volumes, it would totally be on my scanlation list. (Actually, I think there is a group scanlating it, but last I saw it was only on vol. 10 or 11.)
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 21, 2009 at 7:39 am
I’ll just have to start an annoyingly loud campaign to get it licensed. :D
Sophendo saysAugust 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm
Jeez. So impatient. :p
Entropy (scanlation group) is doing its best to crank out more Love Catalog. The goal is to finish all 34 volumes before 2026. If you need more fan stuff to spoil you in the meantime, I recommend you visit the fansite located at http://lovecatalogfan.sealed-kiss.net
Yes, I hope it gets licensed, too! Go Masami Nagata!!
Travis saysAugust 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm
I think you misunderstood me. I read the series in Japanese, so I personally am not interested in reading scanlations. I meant that if it weren’t 34 volumes and if another group weren’t already scanlating it, I would consider doing it myself.
Sophendo saysAugust 25, 2009 at 8:57 pm
Ah, ha. XD
Thanks for the spoiler about Tane. So THAT’S why Ryuuji’s all moody up until the ceremony.
Danielle Leigh saysJuly 21, 2009 at 8:35 am
The idea that people must be (or become) beautiful in order to be loved pervades all media, not just manga, and I’ve learned to clutch my Charlotte Brontë novels closely to my chest, deal with it, and move on.
Yeah, I know I’m currently obsessed with Glass Mask but I’ll recommend it anyway (2005 anime on crunchyroll is easier, more streamlined than the manga) in response to this great comment. Maya is a very ordinary girl who doesn’t become beautiful but grows into a great actress. Yes, she can become beautiful on stage thanks to her talent, but she can become a million other things as well (which is the point — she’s an *actress*, everyday is a makeover for her and none it actually changes who she *is*).
Although, as I noted on twitter, GM waves away HP-levels of child abuse in order to create a “great person.” But then it wouldn’t be shojo if it didn’t do something whack at some point.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 21, 2009 at 9:55 am
You’re definitely persuading me! This series sounds more and more interesting, I have to say. :)
But then it wouldn’t be shojo if it didn’t do something whack at some point.
Also, that made me laugh out loud. :D