Girl Got Game
Shoujo – Romance, comedy, sports
10 Volumes (complete)
Out of print
Kyo is thrilled to get into the high school of her choice. However, her father has registered her as a boy! Now Kyo is forced to join the male basketball team, and one of her teammates is her roommate! Will Kyo manage to keep her secret?
This series is not a very good romance or drama, but Girl Got Game is a very fun comedy.
When Girl Got Game was being released, I remember a lot of people comparing it to Hana-Kimi. Despite both being gender-benders where the heroine disguises herself as a boy and falls in love with her roommate, they are very different. Hana-Kimi focuses on the romance while Girl Got Game focuses on the comedy. While this series has a couple of serious arcs focusing on characters with suicidal tendencies (one is played for laughs, the other more serious), this is a comedy first, romance second. And if you can handle the weaker serious scenes, you will be rewarded with some excellent humor. The characters get themselves into several strange and awkward situations. When shocked or angry, they have some hilarious facial expressions. I burst into laughter several times over the course of the series. It’s too bad chapters like the ones based on a guy’s trust issues are far less enjoyable.
Despite neither leads being pervs, the series has a little bit of an ecchi streak. It’s not often the male lead is so flustered he starts groping man-boobs or the female heroine flips skirts. The annoying friend Hamaya tends to offer porn to Kyo and her roommate-slash-love interest Chiharu. This isn’t a smut series, but it does make plenty of references to sexual frustrations, and one character gets naked several times.
Despite Tokyopop playing up the basketball aspect, the sport is secondary in this story. Shoujo sports fans will need to look elsewhere for their sports fix. Basketball is really just a part of the setting and not a significant part of the plot. There are no tournament or training arcs. The team plays only one official game in 10 volumes. Even the coach and vice-captain are quickly brushed aside. While the opening chapters show how important basketball is to Chiharu, the characters play basketball as more of a hobby rather than a dedication to the game. Kyo herself is not exactly the most noble of players. She has no problem using others as a literal springboard to make shots. And even though others note Kyo is talented, it’s hard to gauge the level of the players since so few games are played.
Girl Got Game isn’t a series about characters and characterization. As this series was continued several volumes beyond its initial plan, a lot of characters are kicked out of the story. Adults are pretty much absent in this story. Main characters Kyo and Chiharu are both short-tempered and prone to misconceptions and fantasies. The two fight constantly, but it’s because they are alike rather than opposites like most shoujo couples. I wouldn’t say either of them is a great lead or developed much, but I did enjoy their more humorous interactions. One guy is introduced to stir up the romance, but once his personal issues are resolved, he pretty much just watches Kyo and Chiharu’s relationship as an outsider. Ironically, it is the annoying friend/sidekick Hamaya that plays a much more prominent role throughout the series. His girl-craziness and big mouth often stirs up trouble, but he has some hilarious scenes. The basketball club manager and Kyo’s middle school senpai show up to raise some havoc but then tend to disappear.
The art is full of thick lines and closeups. Characters — especially in the side stories — look very 90s-ish. Even the author admits the characters change their appearance quite a bit over the course of the series, and sometimes even panel to panel. Kyo sometimes looks quite boyish, and other times she looks girly. Faces can look quite angular or round. The action is sometimes hard to follow. Backgrounds are scare, and screentones are limited. A lot of pages look like they weren’t inked at all. However, the looks of horror and evil demons are comedic gold. The expressions are heavily inked and drawn in an exaggerated fashion, and they are just too much fun.
Honorifics are generally used. This is rather surprising considering the age of this adaptation. However, no guide is provided. Overall, this series suffers from the usual Tokyopop issues of Americanization and untranslated sound effects and side comments. Characters do usually refer to each other by their last names, and this helps keep certain scenes from losing impact. I didn’t notice any switched panels. Although it once was popular, the text twice uses a term that is now considered a slur for people with mental disabilities.
Despite the art and story weaknesses, the comedy makes this a fun read. However, I don’t know if it would be worth reading repeatedly for some. I’ve seen this out of print series sell for as low as $30 with shipping included, and I’ve bought far worse series for double the price. If you get it for cheap or can borrow it, I think Girl Got Game will make you literally laugh out loud a few times.
I also enjoyed the characters’ meetings in the extra pages.
Seino’s series Heaven!! was also released by Tokyopop along with the incomplete Love Attack.
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