REVIEW: ‘Run On Your New Legs,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Run On Your New Legs - But Why Tho

Representation of marginalized identities in manga has come a long way. From trans representation in Blue Period and Boys Run the Riot (the latter written by a trans-masc mangaka) to more all-ages stories dealing with same-sex romance, manga is doing. a lot to showcase more experiences, particularly for those stories that fall into the shonen demographic. With Run On Your New Legs, mangaka Wataru Midori has written a sports manga that focuses on disability and finding yourself in it.

The series is published and localized in English by Yen Press, translated by Caleb Cook, and lettered by Abigail Blackman. Additionally, Wataru credits disabled athletes Atsuhi Yamamoto, Junta Kosuda, Mikio Ikeda, and Tomoki Yoshida as consultants on the manga with industry professionals and companies Otto Bock Japan, Okino Sports Prosthetics & Orthotics (Atsuo Okino), D’Action (Shuji Miyake), and Naoto Yoshida. In this debut volume, readers are introduced to Shouta Kikuzato, a teenager whose talent on the soccer field got him admitted to a prestigious school just for its athletics. But we don’t meet Shouta as a soccer star. We meet him as someone who has given up on athletics altogether.

After a terrible accident cost him his leg (and his freshman year), Shouta thought he could never run again. In fact, he decided that he couldn’t and thus opted not to even try on his prosthetic. Between adapting to who he is without the sport he loved and having to repeat his first year of high school again, Shouta is alone. He’s frustrated and sad, so much so he wakes up from dreams of playing soccer, reminded that his leg is gone. But when Chidori, a passing prosthetist, notices Kikuzato’s artificial limb— and speed—as he races through the train station, the specialist proposes a partnership: Chidori will build Kikuzato a brand-new leg designed solely for speed.

Run On Your New Legs sets up two truths with just one volume. One, Shouta isn’t the athlete he was before, and two, he can still be one. Instead of treating his disability as something to overcome, Midori makes sure the reader knows that it’s something to embrace. Additionally, the volume details the important nuances of creating a prosthetic limb for different actions and for different people. While the Run On Your New Legs Volume 1 describes the achievements of para-Olympians (including an ill-placed mention of domestic abuser and murderer Oscar Pistorius), it also puts into context the amount of money it takes to get the prosthetics to compete at that level.

Shouta is apprehensive about embracing his athletic life again from an identity perspective. The price to run on a new leg is too large for him to handle without support from Chitose. Additionally, there are moments where the inaccessible world around Shouta comes into focus as well.

Run On Your New Legs also embraces the core of sports shonen: being moved by the game to keep going. When Shouta runs for the first time, he gets a vision of his past, pushing him to keep running, to run harder, and to just keep going. It’s a moment we’ve seen a lot of but still holds effectiveness. This is even more important given how hopeless Shouta begins the volume, stuck in seeing himself as half of who he was, only to find that he is, in fact, the same person.

Not only does Run On Your New Legs Volume 1 nail representation, it also tells a compelling shonen sports story about continuing even when you want to stop. It’s a beautiful story that I can’t wait to finish and well worth picking up immediately.

Run On Your New Legs Volume 1is available now wherever books are sold digitally or physically. 


Run On Your New Legs Volume 1
5

TL;DR

Not only does Run On Your New Legs Volume 1 nail representation, it also tells a compelling shonen sports story about continuing even when you want to stop. It’s a beautiful story that I can’t wait to finish and well worth picking up immediately.