Friday, July 5, 2019

Daytime Shooting Star Volume 1 doesn't shoot for much (Manga Review)

Daytime Shooting Star vol. 1 - 6.5/10

I've been waiting for the publication of Daytime Shooting Star (Viz/Shojo Beat) for awhile. I've had it on my list since it was announced, but I'm pretty sure I encountered the name of the series even before then.

It was originally published in 2011 in Japan, so making its English debut 8 years later presents some problems for me as a reviewer. When it reminds me of several other manga I've read (and it frequently does), it can be tough to figure out whether I would have felt differently about it if I had read it before the other ones, is it lacking only in comparison, or is it genuinely bland?

Daytime Shooting Star Volume 1 introduces us to Suzume Yosano. She has just come to Tokyo from a small farming town after her dad gets transferred over seas and her mother is more worried about him than her ("I'm worried about your dad going by himself"... so we'll send you to live with your uncle in the big city). And so, just like so many other manga, it's another one about a girl without parents striking out on her own (I don't actually mind the trope, it's the parents leaving for work part that is the stupid part - give me a runaway or dead parents or something dramatic like that!).

Suzume is shown in her hometown as somewhat of a daydreamer, a lackluster student because she skips class so much, but a generally kind person. On her first day in Tokyo, she turns down help from a beautiful, slightly older, young man only to find out...wait for, it's not her uncle, that's a different's...her teacher!

As the new girl in school, she's having trouble finding her place, but sets out to make friends with the the least friendly guy she meets - Mamura. She also makes a frenemy with a girl who probably also likes Mamura and that's about the plot of the first volume.

What makes this worth reading, since the basic plot points are pretty predictable, is Suzume's character. She seems confident but not headstrong, she's willing to antagonize Mamura to get him to show his softer side (which he slowly does), and she's willing to do fierce battle with the other girl, only to turn around and save the girl from embarrassment later. This makes Suzume a worthy, but cookie-cutter, shoujo heroine.

However, she doesn't have any quirks or much personality, at least not yet. We get glimpses of her talking to the stars above, but it's not given any strong dramatic moment yet. We also see that she's athletically talented but it isn't clear much will come of it. Also, the other characters like her uncle, Mamura, or the teacher, are just stock characters at the moment. We can hope that they'll have their own depths to open up, but I like it better when there is more explicit characterization and less plot in a first volume. I read for the people, not the situations.

The art is nice, if not spectacular. It feels fairly typical, but well done. The backgrounds are pretty minimal but there is nice use of screen tone. The characters are recognizable and the anatomy is fine. There isn't much interesting use of line as their thicknesses are all consistently on the thin side. It's a fairly realistic look but I wouldn't be able to distinguish it from so many other series.

So, all in all, it was an adequate first volume, it set up the story: girl in Tokyo away from her family, now has two guys to chose from (teacher and friend), she's a bit plucky and spunky, and she's got a friend who also was the mean girl. The art is fine but not amazing, just like the plot. We don't really have anything personality-wise that distinguishes these from other characters. So basically, it's okay, but not spectacular.

I'll probably read the series intermittently, but there is nothing that took my breath away or made this a must read for me. Of the currently publishing shoujo, Ao Haru Ride and Hatsu*Haru (and After the Rain for seinen) are winning for me, but many other series just aren't in the same league (like Daytime Shooting Star, Dreamin Sun, and Shortcake Cake). Daytime Shooting Star Volume 1 gets a perfectly ordinary 6.5/10. If you want a mindless romance shoujo, go for it.


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