The Island of Boys
Three hundred and twelve guys are all living together in a boarding school so far away from everything they call it “Japan’s Alcatraz.” The ferry only comes twice a day and the nearest train station is a 50-minute drive. Depending on what kind of manga you read, this scenario is popping all sorts of ideas into your head.
But no, “Seiho Boys’ High School” is not that kind of comic. (At least not yet. Some hints are dropped.) Instead it is a pretty typical shojo romance comic filled with far too attractive guys and their girls who love them, and the misunderstandings caused by that combination.
The main character is Maki, who serves as the sort of “everyman”-type for the reader to connect with. Maki is the most normal of the students, somewhat shy an inexperienced with girls. Around him are the standard compliment of side characters, the girly-boy gay guy (Hanai), the ultra-super stud who tempts every girl and even a few guys (Kimiki), and the popular, smart and kind-of-a-jerk guy (Nogomi). All of the stories in this first volume revolve around one of these men and their bizarre romances.
Hanai is the first up to the plate, as his long-time girlfriend Miki comes out to visit him at school. Hanai has been lying to Miki about his homosexuality and using her as a cover for years, and he is afraid that is secret will be blown when she sees his princess-decorated dorm room. But Miki is not as clueless about the situation as Hanai seems to think. Next, Nogomi comes to the amazing conclusion that every single woman on Earth, everyone of them, has a kitty between their legs (although he doesn’t say kitty). He then also realizes that there is in fact a girl at this all-boys school, the 27-year old school nurse who is as plain as can be and has never had a boyfriend. Nogomi makes it his mission to reform her and to teach her how to make herself attractive, but he didn’t plan on actually falling for her at the same time. Finally, when his older sister comes visiting the secret comes out as to why the handsome Kimiki could get any girl he wants, except the only one he really wants.
The love stories in “Seiho Boys’ High School” are all slightly twisted which is what makes them fun. Author Kaneyoshi doesn’t seem to take them too seriously and even realizes that she is playing with some established stereotypes. There is a good sense of humor running though this comic, including my favorite scene when Nogomi declares his affection for the school nurse by telling her that even though she is plain “even you have a kitty between your legs!” and then doesn’t get why she finds this offensive rather than being swept off her feet.
There is a back-up story included as well, “Land of the Rabbits” that is another tale of bizarre love which seems to be the forte of Kaneyoshi. A young boy, Tetsu, is in love with his little sister Shizuka. One night he meets Nana, a college student who is having an affair with a married man. The two bond over their deviant loves, and are soon companions comforting each other over the things they cannot have. Everything goes well until one night a boundary is crossed and Nana seduces Tetsu. Being young and inexperienced, Tetsu mistakes this physical comfort for love which brings too many complications for Nana to deal with.
Kaneyoshi draws well, and offers up a bit of fan service for both guy and girl fans. Sometimes shojo manga can get too much for me with beautiful boys and big round-eyed girls, but that didn’t happen here. There was enough story here and decent art to draw me in even though I am a guy and far from her target market. I can’t say that I am waiting with baited breath for the next volume, but it was a decent read with potential as a series.