Expressions: Yes, expressions in Special A warrants a whole separate category from Art, because part of the reason SA is as big as it is, lies in the rip roaring, fall-off-your-chair, hit-your-head-hard, realize-your-pants-are-wet-coz-you-laughed-so-hard, but-continue-shaking-in-mirth-anyway, expressions that Minami Maki is so gifted at sketching! Each expression is unique, evokes an intense reaction from the reader and is completely tailor made for the scene’s atmosphere, which makes the re-reading factor for SA skyrocket.
Again, this is the definition of an average shoujo. Pure hearted girl attends wealthy school, oblivious to her long time rival’s affection for her. Misunderstandings and shenanigans commence as the two try to work out their feelings for one another. Expect lots of competitions between the two and the repeated use of the running gag of Hikari being ranked number 2 to Kei’s 1. Special A, aside from being a tad on the melodramatic side also relies heavily on comedy. There are many absurd situations for which one would have to put aside their sense of disbelief to enjoy. I myself got a few chuckles from the slapstick comedic elements featured during many of the competitions. In later volumes however, there are a lot of plot twists featuring conflicts that feel quite forced. The issue with Finn for instance, in which Hikari discovers that the “Prince” is actually a girl and is more or less imprisoned for discovering the secret borderlines on silly and needless. In this instance an absurd situation is used for the sake of drama and plot device rather than for light-hearted comedy and it fails to hold any kind of believability. Ultimately there are several arcs which could have been cut out entirely without much of value being lost. Perhaps if Minami Maki had skimmed the series down by removing clunky side plots with no real impact on the story, this manga would have been a little more enjoyable for me. As it is however, Special A dragged on and on, repeating similar jokes, similar conflicts and similar interactions between Hikari and Kei. When the series came to a close I was left unfulfilled and a little bit disappointed that a manga I had once enjoyed had become so stale and repetitive.
Special A opening, sung by Megumi Yamamoto (Ayahi Takagaki) with SA (Yuko Goto & Hitomi Nabatame)
Her voice is much nicer than I expected!
Ever since their first meeting at six years old, Hikari Hanazono has struggled to defeat her rival Kei Takashima at anything, whether it be athletics or academics. To date she has proven unsuccessful, resulting in Kei constantly referring to her as "second place." In reality, Kei has been in love with Hikari for quite some time, but Hikari remains completely oblivious to the fact. Now, as the top two students in a prestigious academy, the duo continues their long-running competition as part of the school's elite class of seven, the Special A. Will Hikari ever surpass Kei... or realize that he loves her?