Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seiho Boys High School! Volume 6

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 did enjoy this volume of Seiho, though I am starting to get the feeling that the author had 4 volumes of plot that she has now been asked to make into 8 volumes. As a result, a lot of things that I thought might get resolved seem to be dragging, and we have a piece of what is very obviously goofy filler. But it's still fun.

The first two chapters deal once more with Nogami and Fukuhara, who had the distinction of being the first couple to get together in the series, and thus have not gotten as much attention lately. I will hand it to the author: while she continues to have the school nurse dating the 16-year-old student, she doesn't shy away from the obvious issues that this presents, noting that they have to continue to hide their relationship, and that Miss Fukuhara still feels very awkward about having feelings for someone so young. Nogami doesn't have that issue, but his is just as bad - he continues to shoot off his big mouth without actually thinking things through. He knows he loves her, but can't explain why, which is fine - that's part of what love is, as the climax to this 2-chapter arc shows - but he's also unobservant, not noticing all the little things that his girlfriend has been doing to her appearance, many of them for his sake. Hint to Nogami from one who knows: in general, obliviousness is not cute.

Oh yes, we also get a lot of jokes in these chapters about the guys cross-dressing, and how things that always seem hot and sexy to girls in shoujo manga don't always work out that way in real life. The un-bishonenness of the guys in drag is brought up over and over again (which is beautifully contrasted with the art, as this *is* a shoujo manga and the cast *are* bishonens, albeit manly ones).

The third chapter is the aforementioned filler, involving a box of porn making its way from room to room in order to avoid the prying eyes of a dorm inspection. Aside from the images of the porn itself, which were quite funny (and dead on), the highlight here is seeing Maki trying to fantasize about Erika, only to have all his fantasies turn into wrestling matches (and no, not in a sexy way either).

Speaking of Erika, she and Maki are once again the focus of the final chapter. Being a Maki chapter, it's a lot more serious than the others. Of note, the other Erika doesn't even get a mention in the chapter (she was briefly mentioned in the one before, where he noted he was starting to move on). Instead, we see the classic teenage boy situation of finding out that you are the only virgin in your close circle of friends. Nogami has already mentioned his prior sexual experience, and we already know about Kamiki and his step-sister. So Maki is starting to feel a bit left behind, especially after making out with Erika on her campus and getting caught by the head nun... who gives them condoms. In the end, the issues are the same as most of the Maki/Erika chapters to date: his tendency to put up false fronts, her loss of control which she covers up with anger. They don't have sex, but they work things out. It looks as if Erika may be bringing a couple more issues, though, as there's a one-line cliffhanger teaser.

The author notes that she keeps getting asked if this is a shoujo manga, most likely as it doesn't star a female and doesn't have much BL. It's fairly obvious to me that it is, mostly from the art. Speaking of which, I like the way that Izumi draws faces, particularly when they're amused or snickering - she has a sort of fish-mouth shorthand that makes the characters far less pretty but far funnier. I will note one piece of awkward art towards the end - when Maki is confessing to Erika on a set of stairs, the art makes him look like a hunchback, and made me wonder briefly who the heck he was supposed to be. Please try to keep your proportions!

But overall this is a very underrated series, which has some sweet relationships and, despite the author's fretting, shows that you can write shoujo starring a bunch of guys at an all-boys' school.

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