If Only High School Were Actually This Fun: Special A Collection One

More youth angst and young love.

Finally, a shojo I can love again.

After I watched Ouran High School Host Club, I searched for other similar shojo anime, but nothing was as good. So I gave up, deciding that nothing could come close to my beloved Ouran. But then, a few weeks ago, I found S•A:Special A.

Kei Takishima: shojo leading man, born romantic.

The premise is pretty basic shojo fare, and similar to Ouran in more ways than one. Hikari Hanazono, our female protagonist, is a member of the Special A, an elite group consisting of the top seven students at her high school, Private Hakusen Academy. For some reason being at the top of the class seems to mean that they get to sit in a greenhouse and have tea all the time instead of attend classes like the regular students, but hey, it’s an indulgent fantasy, so I go with it. Hikari is number two, though she’s constantly battling for the number one spot, which is always taken by her childhood rival, Kei Takishima. He beats her at wrestling, Hikari’s hobby since she was a child, and he beats her at all sports, academics, contests, etc. It’s a serious but honorable rivalry for Hikari. For Takishima, it’s different, because over the years he’s fallen in love with Hikari. Unfortunately for him, Hikari, like so many female protagonists in these love comedies, doesn’t have a clue, and all but refuses to see the signs of his love right in front of her face.

"Hikari, I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU." "Oh, gee, look at the time. Gotta go wash my hair!" *Did he say he loves me? No, I must have misheard.*

When I read the description of episode one I didn’t think that I would enjoy this series because I thought that it would be all about wrestling. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is pure shojo romantic comedy, and wrestling was just a basis for Hikari and Takishima’s blossoming rivalry. The animation is interesting; like a few others I’ve caught a glimpse of, the people are drawn unusually tall and thin (even by anime standards!). However, it’s not so strange that you can’t get used to it. Many episodes are silly and more than a little outrageous, but that’s what I found so enjoyable about this show. I even laughed out loud quite a bit, which, as I have stated before, I don’t do very often. However, unlike School Rumble, it’s not all about the comedy. There are dramatic rivalries between the SA students and the regular students, and a childhood rival emerges just a few episodes in to create problems for Takishima. Hikari is kind and generous to a fault, but unlike some of her shojo sisters (*cough* Tohru Honda *cough*) she actually gets mad and serves up punches when she gets in a tizzy. Though her fights are more for comedic effect and tend to prove her innocence/idiocy, it’s still nice to see a female protagonist with a backbone.

Hey, we're in this anime, too! Hooray for side characters!

Of course, fighting and rivalry aside, the underlying story is about love, and that’s where Special A actually has a leg up on Ouran. There are no mixed signals here: Takishima is very much in love with Hikari, and that’s obvious from the first episode. There’s always a softly-drawn montage in which someone is being nostalgic or feeling lovey-dovey, and it’s usually Takishima. As the series progresses he does more and more romantic things, enough to make nearly anyone go “squee!” Hikari, naturally, never seems to get it, but instead of being annoying, in this case her obtuse nature allows the romance to extend and build up in episode after episode. It’s thoroughly delightful to watch, in my opinion, and enough growth happens in the course of the first twelve episodes that most any romantically inclined viewer will be satisfied. However, there’s so much more that can happen, which reels you in for the second collection.

No shojo is complete without a cute boy surrounded by sparkles who loves animals.

Yes, Ouran High School Host Club is still my favourite of this type of anime (romantic dramatic comedic shojo high school fantasy, that is). There’s just something so funny and delicious about watching Ouran that I can never quite let go of it as I explore other anime, or perhaps it’s just sentimental because it was one of the first series that I truly adored. But Special A has pure, good ol’ fashioned romance in every episode, and that makes it a heavy-weight contender in my shojo anime heart. Bring on the second collection!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. RACHEL
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 05:37:27

    WHY DONT PEOPLE MAKE SCHOOLS LIKE FOR KIDS WHO CAN ONLY DO WHAT THEY WANA DO OR WHAT THEY GOOD AT AND THEN THEY WANA KNOW WHY WE NOT DOING OUR WORK OR THEY SAY ITS COZ THATS HOW WE ARE AT HOME BUT ITS NOT THAT. WE WANA ALLSO BE FREE BUT LEARN IN OUR WAY AND NOT HAVE TO BE WORKING ON NUMBERS AND EMS WE WANA HAVE MORE SCHOOLS THAT KNOW OUR UNDERSTANDING.OK IM RACHEL AND I JUST WANA SAY IF SOME 1 OUT CAN UNDERSTAND IT WILL BE A A HOLE NEW WORLD

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Sep 28, 2011 @ 11:24:35

      I agree, Rachel, the public school system (at least the one in the US that I’m familiar with) needs a lot of change. I was a very creative teenager who attended elementary, middle, and high schools without very good arts programs. But I used what was available to me, and the rest just caused me to use my imagination and become even more creative in my free time! Good luck to you, and don’t despair: there are so many kids who need new methods of schooling that hopefully things will change! At the very least, we can vote for people who will make positive changes to our school system! 🙂

      Reply

  2. Katie
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 16:50:51

    I love SA. It is one of my favorites. Finale was awesome! I highly suggest it to someone who hasn’t watched it, yet.

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Apr 15, 2012 @ 22:04:52

      It took me completely by surprise because I thought it would be a sports anime and it was actually a fantastic shoujo romance. Anyone who love the genre should definitely give it a try. 😉
      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

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