Seiho Boys’ High School 4Posted: March 25, 2011
Kaneyoshi Izumi – Viz – 2011 – 8 volumes
This series is a great example of how a character-driven series works: give your characters enough personality, and their quirks make for a wonderful reading experience. The best way to describe this series, still, is just chapter after chapter of boys being boys, and the weird girls that find their way into their all-boys isolated world. It does it without sliding into shoujo manga stereotypes about all-boys schools, or bad male stereotypes in general. Each chapter still mostly focuses on one of the central cast of characters, with Maki more or less holding everything together.
The first chapter takes a look at the relationship between Maki and his new sorta-beau Erika, and how honesty figures in. Maki is honest about his relationship with his former girlfriend, but of course he leaves enough information out (such as the fact she passed away) to put his honor in doubt. More or less, it’s just a complex little dance between Maki and Erika as they learn more about each other and how they feel. As mundane as that sounds, the characters are written so well that it doesn’t really matter what’s going on, but the relationship between the two is believable and, really, all that story needs.
The second story is about Arata and his long-distance girlfriend. Arata’s the type of guy who’s huge and quiet and is mostly misunderstood since he looks kind of scary. He doesn’t really know how to express himself, or show his feelings to his girlfriend, nor how to react when she breaks up with him. He’s upset, but how does he fix it? We haven’t seen much of Arata, and his girlfriend hasn’t appeared before this story, so it’s interesting to compare it to the first story (where both characters have a well-established backstory) and see how little time it really takes for Kaneyoshi to build up likable characters and still tell a story that’s all sorts of sweet. Also, funny. I probably don’t give the sense of humor in this series enough credit, but the group date the characters go to here is really great stuff.
The third story (that takes up the second half of the book) takes a look at Kamiki and Miyaji, a girl with a huge crush on him that takes a lot of teasing from the other students for constantly hanging around heartthrob Kamiki. She’s wonderfully shy about how to approach Kamiki, and Kamiki is a little clueless about her, but it’s another cute story about the two of them getting together. Also, about Miyaji trying to be someone she’s not in order to impress him, and learning how to handle herself in front of the other students. Lots of love in this volume, and Kamiki’s one of my favorites. We also get to meet his equally funny sister in this volume, who inspires all sorts of interesting outbursts from Miyaji.
This series is really subtle and completely character-driven, but every volume’s a real treat. It’s one of my absolute favorites right now, and I think it’s flying completely under the radar for a lot of people, which is a shame. There’s not a whole lot of flash here, but it manages to forego all the stereotypes and really delivers some quality characters that make it a thoroughly enjoyable read. Pick it up!