Indulgent Shoujo Never Says Die: Special A Collection Two

Balancing love and laughs with life

is what Special A is all about.

If you’ve read my review of Collection One, there’s really not a whole lot more to say about S•A:Special A, Collection Two, other than, “Go watch this series right now!”

Did Kei ever think that maybe competition is just what turns Hikari on?

The setting and story remain the same as the first half: the top seven students at Private Hakusen Academy form an elite group known as the Special A. They sit around in a lush greenhouse and sample tea and cake, but they’re as far away from snobs as you can get. Whenever another student approaches one of the Special A, be it one of the regular students at Hakusen or someone visiting from another school, the whole team always rushes right in to help out in any way that they can. The two main characters are also the top two students: Kei Takishima, the number one student at Hakusen, and Hikari Hanazono, the girl who is perpetually number two. Hikari and Kei have a rivalry that extends back to childhood, but somewhere amidst blooming hormones Kei falls in love with Hikari. Hikari, who is a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, hasn’t a clue, and in fact gets all squeamish whenever anyone suggests that she and Kei might have something between them. (Sounds to me like she’s just playing dumb, but it wouldn’t be as much fun otherwise.)

Akira and Tadashi are having one of those, "Did you just fart?" moments.

The second half of this series is just as funny, romantic, and charming as the first. The romance between Hikari and Kei finally escalates to a point where even obtuse Hikari can’t ignore it anymore, but then the issue becomes how to deal with her feelings and Kei’s. I love that this series began with a good thing in the first collection, but then it grew and matured with the second. Hikari and Kei face some tougher issues in this half, and it’s a pleasure to watch their relationship expand from pure comedy into something realistic. Not only do we get to see the two main protagonists grow up, but Collection Two explores all the other Special A members’ lives as well. We finally discover what happened to Akira when she was little, and we actually get to know tons more about the twins, Megumi and Jun, as well as the big bad guy from the first collection, Yahiro. Boisterous Tadashi and stoic animal lover Ryuu are the least developed, but even they have their moments in the sun.

I'd totally hang out with this gang. That is, if I were freakishly tall enough to see their faces.

I not only appreciate the unfolding story presented in this series, but I also thoroughly enjoyed watching it. The comedic parts were balanced nicely with the romantic parts, blending together for a great balance of story and character development. It never became too farcical or too bogged down with lovey-dovey scenes. Yes, there was a scene with sparkly emotions at the end of every episode, but I quite enjoyed that little visual cue that a character was having a “moment.” Besides, this is shoujo, and what’s shoujo without a little sparkle? If you enjoy shoujo at all, you won’t want to pass up Special A. I intend to add this title to my anime collection as soon as possible, so that I can relive all the mischief, mayhem, and laugh-out-loud moments again and again.

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