'Girl Got Game' manga by Shizuru Seino
A simple romance about a girl joining a boys' basketball team--as a boy
After reading Hana-Kimi, I wanted to re-read another manga with the same basic premise. In Girl Got Game, the main character, a girl, is forced by her dad to pretend to be a boy in order to join the boy’ basketball team, in an effort to fulfill her dad’s goal of joining the NBA. It’s a ridiculous premise, but it’s manga, so . . . Anyway, the girl ends up rooming with a teammate in the dorms, and of course they end up falling in love.
This story is very simple. The characters and plots are quite stock. For the most part, it stays focused on the main pair, though there’s another character who comes in mid-way through and gets quite a bit of time. But still, it’s basically three major characters who get time, with a few big supporting characters. For ten volumes, it worked well to keep things focused on the main plot and keep the pace pretty quick. Another thing I appreciated about this book was that there wasn’t a huge amount of text on the page (Hana-Kimi, for example, had tons of asides in tiny text all over the place), which made the series a quick read.
There were some very funny parts, but not enough for me to really call this series a comedy. There was more focus on the drama/angst, but not so much that I’d really consider it a super angsty story (not nearly as much as something like Peach Girl). When the angst came, it did a good job of making me feel it, though it was taking the easy road. I probably only felt it because I was fully willing to let the story manipulate my emotions in this way, regardless of how much sense the plot developments actually made.
There was some sexual stuff that I found to be gross rather than funny, and it was clearly meant to be funny. Mainly, there’s a major side character who’s really into porn and just generally a pervert who can’t get a girlfriend. There’s a scene where he and some of the other boys watch a porno with the main girl character (who’s pretending to be a guy). Considering these are teens, that was unnecessary and gross. So was the way he kept talking about porn magazines. It just wasn’t something I wanted in a story about teens. There’s a little bit of nudity in the story as well, mostly when the pervert guy is naked (for comic purposes, and nothing explicit is actually shown) and a couple times that show naked breasts (one of these is where the main girl gets discovered as a girl). It’s not really a huge amount of nudity, and it probably wouldn’t bother an adult reader, but because of this and the porn stuff, I wouldn’t recommend the book for kids or teens.
The main romance is . . . not something you haven’t seen before if you’ve read much romance manga, but it worked well enough for me. There’s no real reason given for them falling for each other, which isn’t great. They do argue a lot, and there are very few moments of sweetness, so if you’re looking for a sweet, cute romance, this isn’t that. It’s more the competitive, shouting at each other romance. And the main male lead is a bit of a problem a few times. Before he discovers she’s a girl, he full-on hits the main girl character a couple times for no good reason (once when she’s trying to apologize to him), and twice when he sees a girl character being accosted by another guy, he assumes that she’s a willing participant rather than seeing that she’s clearly afraid and unwilling. So, he’s not exactly a proper hero. But you could just see that as him being a flawed character, so it’s probably a matter of personal taste.
The tone was also a bit odd. It’s mostly pretty light and funny, but there’s a section in the middle where things get very serious and even dark. (That third major character I mentioned has some serious psychological issues to work through.) Things end up working out and going back to the lighter tone, though.
Overall, I’d say get this one from the library if you’re looking for a very simple, popcorn type of romance and nothing I’ve said so far puts you off. It was entertaining enough to keep me reading, but I’ll probably forget about it very quickly.