Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Missed it Monday - Waiting for Spring volume 3 (Manga Review)

A older high-school boy in uniform, raises his glasses, peers out sexily, and holds a basketball
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review anime/manga that I didn't get a change to watch/read when they first came out.

Waiting for Spring vol. 3 - 6/10

Just like the prior volumes in the series, Waiting for Spring Vol. 3 (Kodansha Comics) is a pretty by-the-numbers shoujo romance. It's predictable and bland, but that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes you just want what you already know, but truthfully, I'm pretty bored with it. However, that's not why we're here today, there's a little something unexpected in this volume I want to focus on.

I won't bother talking much about the plot of this series: it's basically girl likes guy, guy likes girl, some other guy tries to get between them, no one really says what they feel out loud or otherwise the story would have ended quickly. But I do want to talk about a small moment where this series rose well above its cliche, trope-heavy predictability, and did something extraordinary.

I love shoujo about the strong girl who rises up above impossible circumstances to take agency in her life and overcome adversity. Waiting for Spring is not that series. But, the creator, Anashin, managed to put in a very very powerful moment of female agency that was surprising for a typical shoujo series.

In Waiting for Spring, Mitsuki likes Towa who is on the basketball team, but team members aren't allowed to date. Even though he likes her back, neither has confessed to the other. An old childhood friend of Mitsuki's, Aya, reappears and has his sights set on her. Needless to say, he goes about it in all the wrong ways: using power and dominance to try and get what he wants. There are no shortage of these guys in shoujo unfortunately and all too often that power imbalance isn't addressed as the problem it is.

In an early scene in volume 3, Aya wants Mitsuki to go on a date with him. She resists and Towa steps in to help her. Aya ultimately challenges Towa to a 1-on-1 basketball game to decide who will go on the date with Mitsuki. If this were any other banal shoujo high-school romance, the two boys would dual over her and Aya would win the first round because he's the big bad guy and the plot needs drama.

But not here. Out of nowhere, given how blandly she's been written to date, Mitsuki runs in between them, grabs the basketball, and refuses to let them decide her fate. She says: "You shouldn't do this. It's so wrong! You're totally ignoring how I feel." And she's so right. They were ignoring her and what she wanted and was saying and were just banging their dicks together like swords.

Instead, she gives readers one of the most powerful messages ever. That men MUST take into account the woman's feelings, her needs, and her right to make decisions for herself. It isn't up to the boys to decide who gets to go out with her. It's up to her to decide who she likes and who she spends time with.

This was a startlingly progressive moment from an otherwise been-there-done-that manga. It was so welcome and so wonderful. Sadly the rest of the series doesn't have any more of those moments. It's mostly a will-they-won't-they story, except we know they eventually will get together, that there's little to it to even think about. If it were filled with more of this female agency, then we'd really be talking. It's one of the things that I love about my favorite series, that the women have agency and insist that others respect their agency. That Mitsuki is so under-developed throughout most of this series is my main complaint.

So while this is still a paint-by-number shoujo manga, at least for one brief moment in volume 3, we had a truly righteous, progressive, feminist action of female agency. Cool!


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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