High School Girls Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 201
  • ISBN: 1-58899-200-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

High School Girls Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     October 08, 2004
Release Date: August 01, 2004

High School Girls Vol.#01
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Oshima Towa
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
A hilariously hip account of life at an all-girl private high school. As the student body comes of age we witness their search for love, sexual controversy and the rivalry between cliques. Based on the authors own real life experiences this is one manga you don't want to miss!

The Review
Packaged in a B6 sized GN, High School Girls is printed in its original format, right-to-left. ComicsOne basically used all of the original cover design concepts. On the front cover is main character Takahashi Eriko, with green tone panel art on the background. The opposite cover features some more panel art in green tone, beneath a short volume description. Inside the printing is pretty good for most of the GN. At the start of the second chapter (aka: 1st Period), a few pages were looking pretty bad as these images were initially were not in black and white. Its a shame they do not do color pages because the black and white they left is really bad on these pages (ink bleeding and lines have faded out). Fortunately I did not notice any alignment problems, so overall a decent printing job. ComicsOne left in the original chapter headers. They also kept a 5 page long afterword from Oshima-sensei. In the ato-gaki, she describes one her own high school experiences and how she and her editor decided on the title for the series. She also has included an etchi portrait of Eriko as well, to make sure the manga is sexy.

Character designs are very cute. Drawn to scale and at normal proportions, these girls look really like healthy high school freshmen even though this initially ran in a seinen magazine known for busty designs. Characters have a great deal of variety in their designs, with varied body types, hairstyles and color, and personalized school uniforms. What I really liked is how there are so many different personalities that match the designs: sporty, genki, high fashion, trendy and plain Jane. This even involves the adults as well, so the entire cast looks as fun as their personalities are. Backgrounds are okay. In all truth they are pretty stale, and apart from a few pages here and there they are rarely given much detail. Normally I would not mind too much but with the main characters making a fuss about Yamasaki Girls being elite private high school I would have thought the mangaka would try to show it off more. The layout makes up for the backgrounds. Character placement especially can be pretty fun, but overall Oshima shows a lot of variety with panel placement and size, and interactive perspective (that would be better suited for action manga but works well with comedy as well).

Over the past year ComicsOne's translations have been better and better but they continue to have problems with typos and the occasional syntax error. Fortunately, they do not come as frequently as they used to so they are not too distracting but ComicsOne's history of errors is frustrating. What C1 does well with this title is how they keep some of the original jokes intact. Most of the nicknames have not been changed and they use notes here and there to describe items/concepts unique to Japanese culture. SFX are all translated. With this series ComicsOne has used a mix of subs and overlays. This concept works but it is not very consistent.

High school to some people can be three to four years of heck. Homework, annoying teachers, cliques, tests and uniforms can be more frustrating than educational. In Oshima's High School Girls high school is never educational... it's fun.

Eriko, Ayano and Yuma have known each other for ages and now they are about to enter high school together. Each one of them has a different idea of what the experience will be like - raunchy pit, princess factory, an expensive place to goof off, but little did they know it would all of that and much more. These ladies have been fortunate enough to attend Yamasaki Girls Private High School, one of the elite schools in this region. This 7-12 academy is known for its tough courses, extravagant festivals, diverse sports and culture clubs and outstanding staff. To some this is what high school should be about; others would consider Saki High a big joke where the affluent student body make and break the rules.

Eriko, Ayano and Yuma will quickly learn the scary truths about all girl high schools. Messy locker rooms, weird cliques, lazy attitudes, no sense of modesty, and nothing but boys on the brain might not be that much different than coed schools, but the ratio of raunch is so much higher. On top of that these three applied to get into the high school, while most students start with middle school, so they are already three years behind in regards to the socializing. They are immediately turned into aliens in this community. They are also automatically the "nerds", as they had to pass an exam to be admitted. And if that was not enough, they are also the poorest students since they went to a public middle school. Not a day into their new school and they are already ostracized.

Time and friends can change everything, and as soon as the girls do make some friends Saki High becomes less threatening and much more fun. What they will have to understand is that fun will compromise other things. Goofing off, cheating, lying, using their feminine charm may be a lot of fun but is it worth possible summer school and being kept back a year. However some people say you only experience high school once, why not make it as long as possible... wait that cannot be right.

Everyone has to go to high school sometime and in High School Girls Oshima Towa shares some of the experiences that she and her friends had when they went through school. When I came into this title I was not sure how I would react to these vignettes. Knowing that even though this manga originally ran in seinen based Weekly Action Comics (it is currently in the bishojo magazine also from Futabasha) I wondered if Towa would make her stories accessible to male audience. Her cast and her writing not only crosses that line very well but it works for female readers as well. Reading this title with my girlfriend we both found ourselves relating to some of the school life drama, and she was entertained by the over the top sex and feminine hygiene humor. Towa never tries to make high school pretty, even if it is an all girl school. She does not take shortcuts by adding yuri scenes or random locker room moments. Instead she just has her cast experiencing life through humor and friendship. Towa's characters are going through one of life's rituals and while their might be some bumps on the way, they all know their time as students is fleeting so they best make it memorable. With this series its obvious Towa's were not easily forgotten.

There are very few slice of life comedies in North America, and most of them need a gimmick - aliens, gondolas - to keep them afloat. The better ones seem to be more reality based but might still be foreign enough to keep readers interested in fiction they may have experienced in their realities. Being able to relate to a slice of life comedy is a not necessary but it does creates a connection that keeps the title memorable, and that is what I experienced with High School Girls. Like Azumanga, the cast may be entirely female but many of the scenes are universal. High School Girls might not be as cute or corny as some, might not be as unique as some, might not have a plot, but is one of more entertaining titles I have read in a while. It's also a rare title that had my girlfriend laughing out loud, so it must be good.



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