By Maki Minami
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat
Slugline: I haven't seen such a repetitive opening montage since the A-Team.
Hikari Honazono has problem. That problem is Kei Takishima, who has bedeviled her ever since they were little and he defeated her in a wrestling match. Worse yet, he humiliated her afterwards. Since then, she has followed him through school, trying to defeat in him any field that she can but has yet to succeed. But as the result of her hard work and dedication, she is always rated no. 2 in school activities, which has gotten her in the S. A. (or Special A, the top 7 students of the A group of her school, where students are rated into groups A through F) in a tough private school. She is the only middle class student in the S.A., which has been together for several years, so that the other six member of S.A. get to experience her world and she theirs. The volume is made of different episodes of Hikari trying to defeat Kei via various challenges, and the relationship based on respect that they have for each other.
I make the joke about the A-Team in the slugline, but the creator uses the same opening montage to describe the characters and their situation in every episode, so of course it is going to feel pretty episodic. Some of the members of the S.A. I feel aren't very distinct, making it easy for them to blur together, but for the moment the whole purpose of the story revolves around Hikari's competitive nature and her and Kei's relationship that is a minor concern. The fact that Hikari is shown working for her status, rather than the readers just being told that she is that good, and yet still show her weaknesses is interesting. Kei is sort of strawman in that regard since he appears to no. 1 without any effort on his part. Hopefully there is something more interesting ticking under the surface of Kei, otherwise this story is just not going to click together strongly.
S.A., vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.