“ Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics / Author: Honami, Yukine / Co-Author: Takaguchi, Satosumi / 200 Pages / Book is published 2007-08-08 by Digital Manga Publishing „
Yuuhi loves football (only they call it soccer, the Japanese name for football is sakka so fair enough). He lives out in the middle of the rural countryside and his school only has 31 students. Needless to say, his school's football club is not very big, and the field is one shared with everyone else and is just that...a field. He has a dream though. Yuuhi and his brother each have a small bit of land, each covering a small mountain, that is theirs. When Yuuhi grows up, he plans to flatten it, and build a proper soccer field that he and other enthusiasts can play their hearts out on. One day he mentions this to a fellow classmate, who ponders just how many people there are locally who would come play, as they live in a very sparsely populated area. Yuuhi is adamant about his dream though.
So adamant in fact, that when he arrives home and tells him they are going to flatten the mountain NOW, he is gob-smacked. What for? It is HIS mountain. It seems his family want him to sign away his mountain in order to sell it to the elite city school where his brother is a teacher. They cannot expand where they are, and have decided that as they are a boarding school, the rural location is not a hindrance. Yuuhi is all set to refuse, when he encounters two troublemaking students from the school who have come to make sure he doesn't sign the deal. They don't want to get sent to the boonies, so decide to bully him a bit to make sure he does things their way. It backfires though, as he decides to teach them a lesson about underestimating country folk. Yuuhi doesn't sell, but he does rent them the land, becoming not only the landlord, but a student.
As for his soccer field, well, after building the dormitories and classrooms, the funding got a bit stretched, so that's on hold. Yuuhi is not going to be bored however, as he discovers that the troublemaking students he first encountered are not the worst of the lot. That spot is reserved for the spoiled sons of the school's chairman, and it is not soccer balls these lads like to play with. With nothing but fields about, little to no TV reception, no girls, and boarding in, you can guess what happens next, right? Yuuhi is rather naïve however, and is completely unprepared. But will their perverted tricks catch him out, or does Yuuhi's kicking and blocking skills from all those years of soccer come to his stead? Don't underestimate the countryside!
I have to admit that when this title came up on the available for review list, seeing as it is World Cup season, I could not resist. Yuuhi's dreams of football glory are as likely to happen as England winning the World Cup, but he likes to dream big. Like most young lads his age though, other types of recreational activities get brought to his attention, distracting him from his goal. He doesn't like the tricks and pressures the bullies put on others, and he makes it his business to score big against them. His gentle naivete and lack of any sort of romantic experience, emotionally or physically, make this a really cute read, as he grapples with what he thinks is going on around him, and what actually is. When he does realise, the motivations behind escape him, causing him to make rash snap judgements that he has to reconsider along the line as he grows up a little more.
The list of characters are varied, and while they are stock character types, they are used to great effect. It is precisely that they are stock characters, that makes it so funny as Yuuhi is so naïve, he doesn't recognise the personalities for what they are, and falls into trouble one way or another along the way. He has other talents tough, some quite unintentional. His trusting nature and sweet expression bail him out of one sticky situation with him none the wiser, while his fast reflexes trained on the soccer field aid him in others. With his sunny disposition yet quick to retort tongue, he rings true to many a 15 year old boy you might actually know, but without all the Kevin-like angst. It is a light read, not too taxing, filled with rather naughty chuckles. If you don't like watching footy, except for looking at the boys, this might appeal between matches as these are lovely to look at. If you don't like footy at all, well, this only nominally has anything even remotely football related, so you can come read this instead.
***I would like to thank Digital Manga Publishing for providing me with this review copy, and to say, " Ikke ikke, Nippon!"****