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Special A
by PrincessVera on August 14th, 2008, 1:11pm

Rating - 5 / 10.0

User rating of this review - N/A out of 5
Story/Plot - 2 out of 5
Characters - 2 out of 5
Drawing Style - 3 out of 5
Enjoyment - 3 out of 5
Overall - 2.5 out of 5

Click here for series information

The story revolves around Hikari and Kei, respectively the second and first place students in an elite school group called the "S.A." Hikari has a burning desire to defeat Kei, to whom she lost in wrestling when she was very young. In 9 or so years, she has apparently never managed to defeat him in anything, even once. As for Kei, he has a burning desire for... Hikari. Side characters include the other 5 SA members, all with their own little quirks, and various love interests, minor friends and plot-device parents.

The central plot point is the relationship between Kei and Hikari. Major events in the story include many cultural festivals and parties, ridiculous matches between Kei and Hikari, lovey-dovey scenes between the terminally clueless, occasional conflicts with randomly-introduced antagonists, parental intervention in the characters' lives... standard shoujo fare.

The characters are almost universally static and one-dimensional. Each of them can be defined by a very few words; for example, Kei is arrogant and possessive; Hikari is obsessive, cheerful, and clueless. The top 7 characters are supposed to be incredibly intelligent, but the only one who shows proof of it is Kei (who can memorize anything he's seen once). All of the rich characters (almost everyone except for Hikari) suffer typical problems due to their upbringing/background - conflicts with succeeding the business, or with making friends, and so on.

As for the love relationships, I feel as though most of them could have been resolved in a shorter series. Hikari is so mind-bogglingly clueless about Kei liking her for volume after volume. Kei's personality and treatment of Hikari doesn't change, even with the romantic moments where he "rescues" her or goes on "dates" with her. As for other relationships in the story, they are treated as unimportant side-plots and only appear in the story when it's convenient. Some of the characters - Ryuu and Megumi in particular -- spend volumes with little screen time and zero development.

Drawing Style
The drawing style is fairly typical for its genre. The hair and eyebrows in particular are more angular than most other series in the genre; the artist seems to be a fan of straight, flowing hairstyles. The backgrounds and small details are never very developed in drawings, although the artist admits in one of the side panels that she doesn't spend much time on them. Emotions are conveyed through expression with the mouth, eyebrow, and eye shape, instead of with the actual dynamics of the eyes or even with body posture. So, while the drawing isn't bad, I feel that it lacks depth.

Finally, some of the characters aren't always distinguished too well. Although I'm never confused as to who is who, there are occasions when characters often look similar - Akira and Tadaishi (two of the SA members), Yahiro (an 'antagonist') and Kei's dad, etc.

First, it started off with confusion. They introduced all seven SA members within the first few pages of the first, instead of spreading the names out and discovering each person's individual traits one at a time throughout the chapter. Fortunately, it only takes a few chapters to get used to. Too bad they keep introducing more new characters...

Second, it's repetitive. I can't emphasize this enough - for example, school festivals, competitions with various people wanting to take down the SA, romantic interests or new antagonists bothering the SA members... Each volume is just a cycle of these sorts of plot points.

However, there are funny and cute moments that salvage the series to some extent. I don't enjoy the series for its overall plot or effect, but for the cute "aww" moments or the "that's so ridiculous it's funny" moments.

Special A is a cute and very typical shoujo story. Although the premise is a little different ('genius' students in competition), it's actually just a rehashing of the "girl hates boy, boy secretly likes girl" plot. In terms of overall story, it's extremely repetitive and the characters don't develop much. There are no surprises in the first 10 volumes of the story. It's a passable shoujo story, but to call it "Special" would be a lie.
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