Why Blue Box is a hidden gem among romance manga
In light of today's oversaturation of anime and manga, you can't blame someone for calling the shounen romance genre stale. Owing to a myriad of overused tropes, cheap fanservice, and contrived plot devices, romance titles are often frowned and looked down upon.
However, Blue Box, a manga about sports and romance, has managed to overcome the stereotypes, establishing itself as a heartwarming story of youthful love and steadfast determination. Written by Kouji Miura, Blue Box follows Taiki Inomata, a simple-minded badminton player with unwavering resolution.
The sports aspect of the manga is on full display from the very beginning, especially badminton. Taiki's daily practice routine at his school's gym allows the author to flesh out the basic mechanics of the game without obstructing the plot with exposition. But what personifies the manga's sports side are its action-packed badminton matches. All of the matches have real stakes riding on them, making them feel unpredictable and exhilarating.
It is unfortunate that the same cannot be said for the other two featured sports in the story, namely basketball and gymnastics. While they do get their fair share of moments of glory in the spotlight, they aren't nearly as fleshed out as badminton.
However, the sports side of the manga is at its strongest when it gives room for Taiki to grow — both physically and spiritually. The gruelling training he is put through and the ordeals that he goes through make him a more mature individual with time. And with each loss and victory, he understands himself and his weaknesses better.
This growth is reflected in how his relationships take shape with the people around him, especially the love-interest, Chinatsu. Although he had a very brazen attitude towards her when they first started living together, Taiki eventually begins to understand Chinatsu's feelings without imposing his own ideals onto her. And the experience that he gets through dedicating himself to badminton allows him to realise and respect other character's personal spaces and boundaries effectively
Another aspect that makes Blue Box stand out is its use of tropes. While the romance genre is guilty of reusing the age-old tropes and plot devices to conveniently move the story forward, Blue Box handles some of those tropes in a more realistic and grounded way. The manga also steers clear of illogical misunderstandings by making the characters communicate their feelings properly.
All of these story components are beautifully complemented by Kouji Miura's clean and realistic art style. Every panel that features matches are always drawn with careful accuracy and attention-to-detail, enriching the reading experience.
Since Blue Box is still an ongoing story, it is difficult to predict how the author will continue the series. But judging by where it's headed, one can afford to be optimistic.
Ayaan loves to read dinosaur comics and poorly-written manga. Reach him at [email protected]