Soichiro Yamamoto is probably best known in the west as the creator of Teasing Master Takagi-san. I haven’t actually read that manga though, so When Will Ayumu Make His Move? is my first introduction to his work. Let’s dive into this high school tale of romance, strategy and shogi!
Yaotome and Ayumu are the only members of their high school’s shogi club. While club president Yaotome would like to see some more people join, she nonetheless has a lot of fun teaching Ayumu all about the complex strategy behind shogi. Ayumu is a pretty quick study, but he isn’t showing up to play Yaotome everyday because of a love of the game. He actually has a big crush on Yaotome and isn’t afraid to bluntly tell her how cute and great he thinks she is at every opportunity. Given how blatant he’s being with his admiration, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how he truly feels, and Yaotome has no doubt that he likes her. This isn’t a problem, however, since Yaotome likes the serious boy right back!
Now, if only Ayumu would quit being so stubborn and just admit his feelings and ask Yaotome out!
Apparently, Ayumu has made a vow to himself that he won’t ask Yaotome out until he’s proven himself worthy by winning a game of shogi against her, something that has yet to happen because Yaotome is an exceptional player. Not knowing what’s really going on, Yaotome tries everything she can think of to get Ayumu to confess his feelings, leading to a battle of wills every time the pair sit down to a game!
When Will Ayumu Make His Move? is a wholesome and humorous little romance. Both Ayumu and Yaotome are cuties, and watching them dance around each other during their shogi games was fairly amusing. Yaotome gets easily flustered by Ayumu’s intense praise and struggles to keep it together while simultaneously using every trick she can think of to get Ayumu to admit that he’s in love with her. She even makes a direct attack at one point and offers to give him a hug and a kiss if he’ll just cop to it. However, while he’s constantly in awe of Yaotome’s cuteness, nothing she does breaks through Ayumu’s stupid resolve. He remains stoic and as stubborn as an ox, refusing to abandon his vow, even though there’s no actual reason for him to stick to it so doggedly.
Ayumu and Yaotome’s battles of wits tend to mirror the strategies that Yaotome is trying to teach Ayumu about shogi in a given chapter. I’ve never played shogi myself and know next to nothing about the game, but the manga includes plenty of notes to explain the basic rules and some of the specific plays the pair reference. Many chapters also include a breakdown of Ayumu and Yaotome’s shogi match, so fans of shogi can see how their game went. Even though I didn’t understand these, they still struck me as a nice detail to include, and I’m sure that shogi enthusiasts will get a kick out of them.
Unfortunately, while I found this manga to be cute, my enthusiasm started to peter out around the mid-point of the book. There just isn’t a lot going on in the story aside from the tension surrounding whether or not Ayumu will finally beat Yaotome and/or confess his love. While there is a certain amount of charm to the interactions between the leads, things quickly became repetitive and I found myself starting to feel bored. This manga really would have benefitted from the inclusion of a couple more characters or the introduction of a side story to break up the monotony. There were a few mentions of Yaotome’s desire to find more members for the club, which I had high hopes would lead to the introduction of a new character to shake things up, but that never wound up happening. In the end, this volume leaves off with the status quo remaining exactly the same as it was at the start of the book.
While the lead characters have a sweet dynamic and there were several jokes that I found funny, When Will Ayumu Make His Move? overuses the same kinds of punchlines and already feels like it’s in a rut. I can’t say that this was a bad read, but I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing with the series. It would probably be of interest to fans of shogi, though.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Kodansha’s website.
What did you think of this manga? If you’ve read further into the series, do you think it’s worth giving volume 2 a try, or does the series stay pretty repetitive? Let me know in the comments!
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