Two manga make the first-string cut
‘My Heavenly Hockey Club’ Vol. 1 By Al Morinaga ($10.95, Del Ray, comedy for ages 13+)
Hana loves sleeping more than anything. That’s why she studied so hard to get into a top school — it’s only three minutes from her house, which means more time to sleep in. But, while sleepwalking her way through an intersection, Hana steps out in front of a car. She’s not hurt — she practically has superpowers half-asleep — but the car is beat up. Izumi, the princely leader of the field hockey team, notices her “skill,” and tricks her into joining the team or paying for car repairs. Hana reluctantly joins the motley team, which doesn’t even have enough members to actually play a match. The fantastic artwork’s details perfectly capture the characters’ emotions. Hana’s obsession with sleep and the tension between her and the eccentric Izumi scores as a romantic comedy without relying on cliches. You could call it a “sleeper” hit.
‘Gothic Sports’ Vol. 1 By Anike Hage ($9.99, Tokyopop, drama for ages 13+)
There’s something endearing about a short girl with the heart of star athlete in a body prone to clumsiness. Anya studied hard to be accepted into the prestigious Lucrece High — not for its academics, but its first-rate athletic program. Unfortunately, the girls basketball team mocks the 4’11” Anya, and the boys soccer team won’t give her a chance. But instead of warming the bench, she forms her own soccer team that’s not only open to all, but makes a fashion statement. Recruiting members is hard enough, but when the principal sends her rival’s best friend to manage the team — and a boy who dissed her in the past joins — the pressure’s on to prove they can perform. The artwork is clean and soft and sweet, and the storyline’s underdog plot is hard to resist.