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Zig x Zag
Synopsis | Review

Zig x Zag is probably an answer to my prayers for a Princess Nine manga. It's all about trying to form a baseball team for the sake of a bishounen. It's also all about whipping that team into shape to take on Koshien. Unfortunately, that's where the similarities end. While Princess Nine is a sports drama, Zig x Zag is mostly a sports comedy that made me laugh my ass off. A lot. It has a lighthearted story that kept my interest piqued, but not too much that I've forsaken meals, sleep, and showers (which I've done with some riveting anime and manga). Oh yes, and it has plenty of eye candy for the bishounen connoisseur.

Zig x Zag is by Yasunaga Kei and has two volumes. It has eight games, also known as chapters.

Synopsis
Oue Yuuki's school, Kenritsu Nishikou, set a baseball record. Their summer 1999 match with LP Gakuen resulted in the largest point difference known. Unfortunately, Nishikou's on the loser end: their opponent scored in the hundreds and they didn't even get a single miserable point @_@ That's because among the nine Nishikou players, only one really knows baseball. Yuuki's brother, Hiroaki, is a great catcher who actually got an offer from LP Gakuen. However, he rejected them so he could play for Nishikou. Their father was also a catcher for Nishikou. He disappeared some time ago when he accumulated too much debt :( Hiroaki and Yuuki hope that Nishikou would get to Koshien and catch their estranged father's attention >.<

Fast forward to spring 2000. Yuuki and Hiroaki are furiously recruiting for the baseball team. So far, they have only one player (Hiroaki). Yuuki's the manager, and their vice team captain is a stray cat (creatively named Vice Captain) at school that they took in. Unless they could come up with eight other players, the team would be dissolved. It wasn't an easy task, especially not after their record-breaking performance the year before -_-; While Yuuki was moping in the library, a guy leapt in through the window and landed on top of her @_@ He held her down and covered her mouth as a gaggle of men stampeded past the window, clearly looking for him. When the men were gone, Yuuki broke free and then saw that the guy is blond and blue-eyed -_-; Before she could say anything, he muttered something in English and stalked away >.< After he left, she found that he dropped a crucifix on a chain.

The following day, Yuuki had the misfortune to run into the LP Gakuen guys at the train station. They recognized her from last year and decided to give her a hard time by taking the crucifix from her. Just then, the guy from the day before appeared at the other side of the tracks. He hurled an apple at the LP Gakuen guy who held the cross and made a direct hit >.< Yuuki chased after him, only to have him snatch the crucifix from her :D She followed him only to find that he went to Nishikou and to her classroom. He went to the desk that was meant for the transfer student that never showed up. The desk is currently a catchall for everybody's crap :D The guy kicked all the stuff from the desk and sat down. Then he started eating beans. Yeah, beans. People around them started talking and for some reason, the topic switched to crap (the literal kind). Suddenly, the guy bellowed at them to quit talking about crap while he's eating. In Japanese >.<

The guy's name is Nanjo Iria, and Yuuki decided she wants him for the baseball team, even though he's kind of weird (he gets weirder as the story progresses). She tried stalking him, blackmailing him, hitting him with baseballs, trying to get his signature on a fake petition (with carbon paper and the baseball sign-up sheet underneath), and looking for writing samples to fake his signature >.< None worked @_@ Yuuki was so frustrated at the end of the day that she shooed away Vice Captain when the cat tried to comfort her. Later, she found that Vice Captain got hit by a car :( Nobody paid attention to Yuuki's cries for help. Suddenly, Iria appeared, swaddled the cat in his shirt (fanservice!), and the three of them got on his motorcycle and rushed to the vet. Vice Captain was saved, although an eyepatch became a necessity :D Since then, Yuuki realized that Iria's not that bad. She promised not to force him to join the baseball team again. The following day, Iria got a school delivery. After he signed the form, he found that the package contained a baseball uniform. Turns out that the delivery slip was the sign-up sheet for the team. Yuuki lied. Whee.

Shortly afterwards, Yuuki, Hiroaki, and Iria challenged the tea club to a baseball match. The tea club is composed of three huge, menacing, and rough guys. Yeah. It's the tea club. Yuuki and company won and brought the tea club into the team :D The match attracted a set of triplets and a fan of Hiroaki's, and they also signed up. So finally, the baseball team is complete ^_^

So now there are nine people who get into a lot of mess. Well, usually the mess is caused by Yuuki, Iria, or the tea club >.< Most of the time Iria and the tea club clash horns, and other times everybody just gets into a good, old-fashioned scuffle -_-; At one point, Yuuki, Iria, and the tea club got marooned on a deserted island. While Yuuki's concerned with building a raft and sailing to safety, the guys were busy playing a giant Monopoly game on sand :D And getting their grimy paws on the only female among them. Their last challenge involved an ultimatum from the school princpal, who got pissed because they stole the school's priceless antique flag when they went on their island trip. The principal threatened that they either win their next match or they get expelled. Naturally, the opponent they got was LP Gakuen. Whee.

Review
I really thought this story had a serious storyline. It certainly has all the right elements: a dream to reunite with an estranged dad, a genki manager and a hot pitcher, and a male harem with lots of bishounen. But the dream fades into the background, the manager is too busy keeping the whole team in line, the pitcher's weird, and the male harem's even weirder @_@
I think things started going downhill after the tea club joined the team. Since then, events have just been random, albeit downright funny. It was like Yasunaga-sensei went, "To hell with it!" and just had fun with the rest of the story.

You really can't take Zig x Zag seriously. It's probably something you want to read if you want a good laugh, but not if you want to fall in love. Sure, there are some cute moments between Iria and Yuuki, and you know that they'll end up together in some far distant future (there's some hint of it in the last game). They'll probably get into a motherload of trouble and realize in the middle of it that they're really meant for each other and that they're destined to be together. Until then, you'll just have to laugh at the madness they go through for the sake of their beloved baseball team @_@ The ending is actually similar to Princess Nine, and is sort of a cliffhanger. Maybe Yasunaga-sensei ran out of steam at some point and concluded the story.

The artwork is so-so. There's a lot of kitty personas, like when Iria groped Yuuki's boobs. His hands turned into paws, giving a whole new meaning to "Keep your grimy paws off me." He and the tea club also turned into pawing tomcats when they were stuck on the deserted island. That whole situation is probably my favorite part in the manga. It's random, weird, and hilarious. It's probably the reason why I now think of Zig x Zag as random, weird, and hilarious. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, artwork. The artwork for the guys is great. Total bishounen material. And there's lots of fanservice. Aren't those the only things that matter? :D

As for characters, you would think there's a lot of characters involved since the baseball team has nine people. But for the most part, the story revolves around four people: Yuuki, Iria, Hiroaki, and the tea club. Yeah, the three goons in the tea club work as one unit. I never even caught their names. Throughout the manga, it seems like the characters pretty much did the same type of stuff: Iria does weird stuff, the tea club causes mischief, Yuuki reacts to disasters that Iria and the tea club cause, and Hiroaki weeps in the background. There's really not much in terms of character development, but that's not too bad considering the manga is just for humor. Rather, it evolved to become a manga that's just for humor.

There's not a lot of baseball terminology here--not when there are two games (chapters) showing the main characters on a deserted island. The focus is not really as much on baseball as it is on the team's dynamics and Iria's weirdness. Still, this will probably be an enjoyable read if you're into sports stories and/or if you like baseball. It's also a good pick if you want a good laugh or if you're into weird and funny stories. Hey. How many times have I said "weird" on this page?

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