Shortly after I reviewed the first 16 volumes of the manga Shoujo Fight (or Shojo Fight), Volume 17 was released in English. I normally wouldn’t write about the same series after just one volume, but the introduction of an antagonistic character named Amamiya Maya has set off a compelling rivalry. However, rather than with the protagonist, Oishi Neri, the rivalry is between Amamiya and Neri’s best friend, Odagiri Manabu.
Many sports manga revel in the relationships between side characters, Shoujo Fight included, but up until recently, Manabu’s have been more about developing friendships—and one romance. This has all changed with the appearance of Amamiya, and what makes this particular rivalry stick out in my mind is the way it brings out a fiery side of Manabu that is also true to her otherwise gentle demeanor.
Amamiya is the captain of another volleyball team, but she also went to the same elementary school as Neri and Manabu. She’s essentially a narcissistic sociopath with a knack for social engineering, and she uses this skill to both manipulate her unwitting allies and extort her enemies. As young children, Manabu was on the receiving end of Amamiya’s exploitative actions while also being resistant to them—her caring and genuine heart the total opposite of Amamiya’s. In current times, Manabu is shown to instinctively recognize Amamiya’s tactics, and she bristles at the way the latter controls her teammates. Amamiya also has an obsession with mirroring Neri that contrasts Manabu’s own complementary bond with Neri, setting them up as “equals” of sorts.
As of Volume 17, Amamiya’s facade is starting to slip, but it’s notable that this isn’t solely because of Manabu’s actions. Other characters, including older ones with more life experience, are starting to call out Amamiya’s actions and behavior, and the cumulative effect between them and Manabu might be the key to breaking the sociopath’s hold on her teammates. I’m eagerly anticipating Volume 18 to see how this all turns out.