Based on the real-life entertainment academy Okinawa Actor’s School, B.B. Explosion follows young Airi Ishikawa as she rises to fame in Japan and then America. The artist spent a lot of time hanging out at the school for research, and even modeled some of the characters after people she met there; Imai’s enjoyment of the experience shines through despite the dated art. The story does its best to express Airi’s passion, but there are times when the static medium of manga falls flat in presenting the dynamic force of her song and dance. Furthermore, the story is bogged down in every chapter by Airi’s episodes of self-doubt, which last a page or two before she is rejuvenated by her love for entertainment. These crying jags quickly become tedious in their predictability, and ruin an otherwise enjoyable story.
Eimi Yamashia is a kooky high school student with a love for snacks and the bad boy on campus. Through her faith in his better qualities, Eimi helps her love interest come out from under the burden of his bad rep and confront his painful past. The story is episodic, visiting the characters during times of high crisis and fun, such as a dorm blackout and the school festival, while skipping over chunks of boring time as needed. Although the sparse art might be a deterrent, the series is worth reading for the many laugh-out-loud moments; the artist’s quirky sense of humor picks up the slack for the sketchy art style.