Sunday, August 1, 2010

Seiho Boys High School! Volume 1

By Kaneyoshi Izumi. Released in Japan as "Men's Kou" by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Comic ("Betsucomi"). Released in North America by Viz.

I have to say that the cover of this volume really doesn't sell the contents within, even if I'm sure it's close to Japan's. It's a shot of one of the leads, Rui Kamiki, looking at the reader in a brooding, Twilight-ish fashion. Which is all very well and good, but despite occasional moments of drama, this manga does not brood; at least not in Volume 1. Instead it reads sort of like a genderflipped and genreflipped High School Girls, featuring a bunch of guys at an all-male school in the middle of nowhere dealing with the few women there and the fact that they're all... well, teenage boys.

Given the all-male school setting, you'd think we were in a BL sort of situation, but that's not the case here (though the first story does deal with a gay student having to deal with a girlfriend from his past when he was hiding it.) Instead, we get short one-shot chapters, each featuring a different main male cast member, and all filtered through the point of view of the lead male, who is not the focus of ant of the stories but is clearly the star anyway. It's an odd little half-anthology half-series feel that takes some getting used to, and I wonder if this was a series of one-shots that got picked up as a series later on.

The cast are generally interesting. The generic hero, Maki, is a likeable enough guy (indeed, other characters note this as well, and he generally oozes good guy shoujo hero from his every pore), and we keep thinking we're going to hear about his past but never quite do, though it's apparently that a bad relationship or something with another girl is holding him back. I was also very fond of Nogami, Maki's roommate, who is handsome, intelligent, and has no filter whatsoever on his mouth. The chapter, which features Nogami trying to convince the busty yet plain nurse who works at the school to pretty herself up so she can go after the student she likes, is easily the funniest of the collection, despite being so casual about the teacher-student thing (but then, see the next two stories). Being someone who frequently talks without thinking, I empathize with Nogami, though I feel certain I would at least avoid telling the girl I have an unconscious crush on what he does here.

And then there's our cover boy and his sister, the first of two 'sister complex' stories we get in this collection (which is lampshaded by the author in her notes). As with almost all sister complex stories that are shoujo rather than hentai, they aren't related by blood, but are both siblings through their parents' second marriage. Fans of Marmalade Boy will spot this right off the bat, and indeed Izumi's own fans in Japan will have likely said "Wait, didn't we just get this plot in her last work?" As for the chapter itself, it seemed to be the most rushed of the three, with the situation barely being set up before it gets resolved.

And then there's the one-shot, which as I noted before is actually a prequel to a 9-volume series she'd written in Betsucomi before this series, which translates as "It's Not Like That", and is indeed about a brother in love with his "sister". The manga itself, from what I gather, is far more involved in its siscon plot, with much fussing over family registers, angst, and past revelations. This one-shot is a prequel to the series, taking place a couple of years earlier, and features a 13 year old Tetsu, male lead of that series, getting involved with a twentysomething who's trying to recover from a bad affair where she's the other woman. Surprisingly, their relationship goes far enough that they even go to bed together (at least they did put an OT rating on this) but does not last, as... well, as she went back to the married man. Luckily, the kid still has his sister to obsess over. I suspect I'd like this more if I'd read the other series, but maybe not. It's very Shogakukan shoujo, in that there's far more sexual activity and peccadilloes than I'm used to in a licensed work.

As a first volume, this is wildly variable, never quite catching enough to really succeed. However, it did retain my interest enough that I want to continue with it, if only to find out what's up with Maki, the lead boy, and (presumably) his emotional past. Hopefully we'll see that in the next volume. Along with more of Nogami saying something completely inappropriate. And perhaps slightly less faux incest.

1 comment:

  1. The fauxcest is popular in hentai as well. A few years back when I was translating hentai anime and games, both brother/sister and mother/son incest were very common, and all of them were step-relationships.