MANGA REVIEW | "Sakura’s Dedication" - Volume One
It’s a bad sign when one has trouble differentiating one shojo manga from the next. Perhaps it’s because I’ve read many first volume rom-coms in a row, but it’s getting to the point where a lot of them feel too similar. Do manga authors have trouble writing rom-coms that aren’t either in high school or focus on polar opposites? I ask because Sakura’s Dedication, the debut work of Fuyu Yukimiya, plays every single shojo trope in the book, all with little-to-no imagination.
Sakura’s Dedication focuses on the titular character and his crush Hanasaki, the latter of whom is dealing with a breakup. The boy bluntly asks the girl to date him, with Hanasaki having no feelings for the guy whatsoever. But when Sakura saves her from an incident with her ex, Hanasaki starts seeing more of the charm of the nerdy guy. As the two get to know each other better, more feelings begin to blossom in Hanasaki’s heart.
One thing I’ll say about Yukimiya is that she knows how to draw her characters well. The art in Sakura’s Dedication is very gorgeous to look at, with both Hanasaki and Sakura having plenty of beautiful features on their faces. Their date at the aquarium also has some fine details placed in some of the marine life both characters see. Sadly, Yukimiya’s writing is not on-par with her art skills.
The big problem with this manga is how one-dimensional these characters seem to be. They lack personality, to the point where one can easily predict every single outcome that can and will occur in its run. As a one-shot, Sakura’s Dedication could’ve been a nice story; stretched out how it is, and it’s easy to see it already running out of ideas. How both Sakura and Hanasaki start to date also feels too same-y from every shojo romance manga out there, with their interactions feeling too paint-by-numbers to bring forth any sort of surprise reaction.
As a result, Sakura’s Dedication comes off as a completely forgettable affair. There’s plenty of other manga and anime out there that have done the polar opposites thing a lot better. If you can’t get enough of high school shojo romances, then you can add Sakura’s Dedication to your pile. As for me, I’ve got other series to look at that are worth more of my time.
Promotional consideration provided by Tomo Tran of Kodansha Manga