A Big Thanks goes to Kodansha and Net Galley for the chance to review this title.
It was one of the titles that could catch your eye, its name is Wandance. Written and Illustrated by Coffee, it started with a boy named Kaboku, who always went with the flow with a steadfast rhythm of the drumbeat of the expectations of those around him. Whether it was his parents, school, or his plans for the future, it felt predictable, safe, and empty. But after one night when he had to stay late at school, that was when he came across her, who moved wildly and turned a blank space of concrete into a canvas!
Her name was Hiraki Wanda. She was a member of the Hip-Hop Dance Club. It was then that Kaboku was immediately smitten, but the road of stepping out of his shell would be a long one. The club she was in was mostly all girls, and they were in a league of their own. What lay ahead for him was unknown, and it was terrifying, but what that meant to Kaboku was that for the first time, it was a taste of freedom.
To be fair, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw this book. Sure, it had a weird title, but Wandance has something that other titles don’t have, and that’s Courage. Yes, there are popular manga titles out there that ooze “Strength and Courage,” but we aren’t talking about killing demons or fighting giant creatures, this is about finding what was needed to gain personal freedom.
Wandance is a heartfelt story that is about finding yourself and how dancing helps someone gain courage and pursue the chance for freedom of self-expression. Kaboku nearly joined the Basketball Club because his friends wanted him to, but luckily that was where fate came dancing in, Hiraki. He knew right then and there to try his luck by joining the Dancing Club and followed his gut for a change.
The next thing I would like to discuss is Coffee’s style of art and illustration. Their work is one of the best I’ve ever seen, the kinetic energy of Hip Hop accompanied by how well the dancing was choreographed in each panel. We get a real feel for the earthier aspects of the dancing and the speed of the movements. What also worked well for this story was how well it was written, Coffee gave readers a certain kinship when it came to the lives of teenagers in high school, especially when it came to struggling with disabilities or anxiety. When it came right down to it, it focused on three things, Kaboku’s journey, the dual relationship between Wanda and dancing, and finally, how supportive she is. With her support, he is beginning to blossom as a person and a dancer.
I would like to close out this review by saying that if you’re a fan of Tsubasa Yamaguchi’s Blue Period, or Keito Gaku’s Boys Run The Riot, then you’ll love this book. It is on sale now, wherever books are sold both physically, and digitally.
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