Ah! Seishun no Koushien manga review

Ah! Seishun no Koushien (ああ!青春の甲子園) is a 7-volume collection of romantic stories by Yamasaki Juuzou and Adachi Mitsuru. As expected of Adachi (though he was only the artist, really), all the stories involve baseball players and, as per the title, the National Koushien tournament, but that’s as far as the sports goes.

I know I’m on a baseball manga kick, but that doesn’t mean I’ll read just anything with ‘baseball’ in it. I read the first two or three chapters of volume 1, then flipped idly through the pages until volume 3 and hated it more with every passing page. After that I stopped reading it, because while I don’t hate romantic series, I do hate those with a foregone conclusion where the writers nevertheless spend way too much time trying to make us wonder “Will they or won’t they?” We know they will.

If I recall correctly, the first story was about the female manager of a baseball club. Junk-o, I think her name fittingly was. She has a crush on the pitcher Shun. Shun’s catcher Dobashi has a crush on Junk-o. Shun has a crush on Junk-o too, he just doesn’t know it yet. But he finds out pretty quickly when she forces her way in to live with him in the name of ‘taking care of him’ when his father moves to Kyushu on business. After that they just play baseball and waffle on and on for a while, and, I’m supposing, eventually get together. Whether they win the tournament or not is another issue, but the story never does anything to make you care about it. Not when the battery and their manager have nothing in their heads but romance.

The second story was even more off-putting. It started out very well with a sweet almost-romance between a girl named Natsuko and a boy named Hongo, who is in the kendo club. Wait, kendo club? But this is an Adachi series! The pitcher always gets the girl! That’s right, so it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s already lost the game. This is only confirmed when the pitcher appears in the form of a Wild Transfer Student, basically Ranma before there was a Ranma. Natsuko starts out a little prickly towards him, but we already know she’s going to waffle back and forth between the two guys and eventually pick the pitcher (because he’s the pitcher in an Adachi series) so, yeah.

I’m going to try to read something a little more drama-free next time. This crap just put me in a bad mood. I should mention before I go that I don’t dislike Adachi manga at all. I read both Cross Game and H2 with enjoyment (while the pitcher didn’t get the girl in the latter, she very definitely preferred him). He’s a great writer now, but his partner in this series, Juuzou Yamasaki, is not quite as good at creating likable characters and believable romances. I’d give this a miss unless you’re a die-hard Adachi fan who will read just about anything he has ever touched.

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