From Yen Press, the publisher behind Highschool of the Dead, A Brides Story and K-ON! comes the eleventh volume of Bamboo Blade, the sports comedy series from Masahiro Totsuka and Aguri Igarashi.
The story of Bamboo Blade follows a high school kendo instructor at Muroe High School named Kojiro who lives from paycheck to paycheck and after agreeing to a bet with an old friend, for a year’s worth of free sushi if his squad can win a practice meet, he begins to recruit new and powerful members to bolster the team’s ranks. Starting with only one member he recruits Tamaki, a kendo prodigy and the daughter of a kendo master, Miyako, a girl with a hidden dark side, the constantly disappearing Sayako and Satori, a girl with a talent for kendo that stepped away from the sport in middle school.
The eleventh volume of the manga kicks off the Burning Academy Arc and introduces two new characters, the calculating Ryouko Toda and the ditzy Erina Sawamiya, costars on the television show Burnish Academy, where the two compete in everything from trivia to sports. Though talented and always the victor in many of the events Ryouko has never beaten Erina when it comes to the sports challenges, which has hurt Ryouko’s pride and helped Erina gain more popularity to Ryouko’s dismay.
Frustrated with this Ryouko eventually convinces the production team to allow the two girls to compete in kendo, which Ryouko has an advantage at as she practiced for years, meaning that she may finally get the victory she has been dying for. As the girls make their preparations the production team begins to scout for kendo teams to participate in the event, including the girls of Muroe High and a team made up of some of the best young fighters in the country.
The story of Bamboo Blade is an entertaining one and it offers quite a bit of comedy in this volume as the story is built up for the coming tournament. There really wasn’t much in the way of action in this volume but that is likely due to the start of a new arc. It will be interesting to see how things play out for the girls in the coming volume.
Visually the graphic novel has a nice look to it, everything has a fair amount of detail and the characters each have unique enough looks that it is easy to tell them all apart. The girl’s looks also fit well with the theme of the series as the cute cast leads you to believe they are just for show until you see them in action and understand just how tough they can be. The translations all read very well, have a nice flow and fit in each panel without having to be reduced in size much.
This volume of the series features a nice color image of the glasses wearing Satori Azuma in her school uniform on the cover. As an added bonus the manga also includes translation notes, a list of the members of the famous all-girl kendo team Kendo Komachi that were revealed in the volume, a side story that gives a glimpse at some of the cast in middle school and a note from Totsuka that gives readers an idea of what is to come and some insight into the anime.
All-in-all Bamboo Blade is a good sport themed manga that has a fair amount of comedy and an interesting story. This new arc looks as though it will bring in some of the hardest competition that the girls have faced yet and though this volume was kind of light on the action it does build things up for the coming volumes.
If you’re a fan of sports themed manga or liked the anime then Bamboo Blade is a series you should look into, especially since it seems that the manga is better than the anime was.
3.5 Out of 5
Bamboo Blade GN 11
Publisher: Yen Press
Story: Masahiro Totsuka
Art: Aguri Igarashi
Number of Pages: 208
Age Rating: Older Teen
Release Date: December 13th, 2011
(A review copy of Bamboo Blade Vol. 11 was provided by Yen Press. To learn more about the series you can visit the manga’s page at the Yen Press Official Site.)