Author: Satosumi Takaguchi
Manga-ka: Yukine Honami
Rating: Young Adults (16+)
Released: August 2007
Synopsis: “Yuuhi-kun planned to build a soccer field on the piece of mountain land that was his inheritance, but when his brother’s elite Shuuiku Academy needed a new campus, Yuuhi was forced to reconsider. Now he finds himself both the landlord, and a student at the school! Needless to say, the other students are none too happy about being shipped out to the boonies, so Yuuhi – AKA “chicken-head” – has become the object of their collective ire. But there’s something about the country bumpkin that has many students eyeing Yuuhi in a different way…a way that makes him very uncomfortable. Seems there’s a lot more than “book-learnin’” going on at this school, and Yuuhi’s about to get a whole ‘nuther kind of education!”
This schoolboy love story begins with Yuuhi, a young boy from the country who dreams of one day having a soccer field built where the mountain he’s inherited now stands. A problem with this arrives in the form of plans to have a school built there instead, but only with his permission. Two students, speaking for a party who don’t want to have their school dropped out in the middle of nowhere, approach Yuuhi in attempts to persuade him to refuse the deal. Unfortunately their choice to insult where he lives and their resulting vengeance for Yuuhi’s reaction, garners the opposite effect and the land is rented to the school.
Shuuiku Academy is a prestigious school with students who were quite comfortable in their urban setting of cell phones and convenience stores. None seem very pleased with their relocation. Now not only is Yuuhi a student at this school he owns the land for but is also made the Resident Advisor, adding onto the mountain of problems he already faces in this strange and confusing environment. Yuuhi, being unaccustomed to anything of the sort, is confused, if not a bit disturbed, by the same-sex encounters he seems to face around every corner. In attempts to curve this school to what he believes is a more normal and less threatening environment, he naively sets rules in place that ban many of these activities. In turn he brings upon himself even more wrath from the conniving student council.
The contrasting, and thus conflicting, personalities in this story are what help keep it so interesting. Yuuhi’s simple minded and honest nature contrasts the more under-handed and menacing ways of some of the students. Despite this, however, the book contains no real antagonist. Though there are a lot of serious offenses being committed, everyone falls short of being completely villainous. Motives and goals change as Yuuhi’s spirited attempts to alter, and at the same time understand and fit into the school, has had lasting impacts on those around him.
Also keeping readers hooked are the other characters and their relationships amongst each other. Like Yuuhi, readers are thrown into a pre-established environment full of history and conflict. Even Yuuhi’s worried older brother, now a teacher at the school, has made some history of his own during his days there. Plus characters who some will be quick to judge may surprise you with their trials and motivation.
This story is stuffed to the brim with dramatic moments, humorous antics and interesting personalities while at the same time continuing to flow seamlessly from scene to scene. The characters are more believable than your stereotypical yaoi story making it easier for readers to grow attached. It’s a tale of love, learning and acceptance for everybody involved and nobody seems able to predict what will happen next.
The art works perfectly with this story. With a fairly large cast of characters, each are uniquely drawn and easily distinguished from one another. The artist did well to portray the personalities through their designs, from simple Yuuhi to the more flamboyant Kai. Panels are kept neat and orderly and can have a lot going on without become hard to follow. The simplistic style helps keep the focus on the dialogue and the expressions, helping draw the story and its characters out.
It’s another solid release from DMP with no notable errors. The cover is attractively laid out on their classic glossy slipcover and the inside images are crisp and clear. The dialogue makes sense and is easy to read. Particular note can be given to their writing for Yuuhi and his unique rural way of speaking in contrast to the council, making a scene between them all the more amusing for English readers.
Can’t Win With You! is a wonderful combination of Satosumi Takaguchi’s character-driven writing and Yukine Honami’s simple and expressive art style. It’s a book with strong characters, dramatic situations and an excellent sense of pace that makes this a read that’ll leave you waiting for the second volume with anticipation.