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Review: Boys Be (Vol. 01)

Author: Itabashi Masahiro
Manga-ka: Tamakoshi Hiroyuki
Publisher: Tokyopop
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: November 2004

Synopsis: “A benched jock finds his game in the nightclubs of Shinjuku; an otaku gets more cosplay action than he can handle; two best friends eye the same hot girl. These guys aren’t exceptionally strong, brilliant or infused with mutant powers – they’re ordinary guys discovering love for the first time. Whether you’re a guy looking for tips, or you’re a girl trying to understand what makes guys tick, you’ll find all the answers inside.”

Following the romantic entanglements of the average Joe, Boys Be is a collection of short stories spanning from Judo players to otaku to happy reindeer.

The overall theme of the stories stays pretty consistent. You have a normal, shy guy who really wants a girlfriend. One catches his eye with her doey eyes and cute giggles, not to mention ample bosom and high school mini-skirt. With the girls making the first moves, as they’re always interested in the boy in question, boy gets girl in an ending that’s always very predictable to readers, but to the male characters obviously pure luck. It’s a male fantasy collection with girls who blush, cling and make obvious gestures of affection to their love interests with little to no required effort from the boys. It’s not necessarily an inaccurate portrayal for some instances but after it’s repeated over and over with the same end result, it’s officially become a tad dull. By the time you reach it, the end story might feel a little empty as it lacks the usual end result but it’s also a refreshing way to end the book.

The artwork itself is decent but nothing too special. The character designs are less flashy and stylized than the usual manga-fare, with guys have average features and girls being attractive without balancing themselves on Barbie-like proportions. With the exception of some large eyes, all the characters in the book are ones you could easily envision as real people which suits the tone of the stories. Sometimes there are some basic issues with the art, like oddly double bent legs, and the expressions, especially on the females, become less appealing when you’ve seen the exact same face used repeatedly on all of them.

The character design similarities are the hardest thing to get past when reading these stories. While the first couple of chapters are continuations of each other, the others star entirely new characters that look almost identical to their predecessors. True that when keeping with more realistic designs, an artist is suddenly more confined with their options for character attributes, but in this case there’s no change to eyes, facial structure or hair. This makes the designs identical in some cases, as opposed to just very similar. For this reason readers need to pay attention to the names and scenarios to avoid being confused. On the upside, the stories aren’t long enough for readers to really get attached to the characters so separating two physically identical characters isn’t too difficult when story swapping.

Whether or not someone could find this useful for helpful tips is anyone’s guess. It’s still a fairly entertaining though, written with many of the same focuses as a romantic shoujo but rooted in the male’s point of view. Summed up, it’s really just another fan-service story however, just one a little better hidden than most. Worth a read but not very promising if the same formula is going to be repeated for over twenty volumes.

Written March 15, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo for ComicsVillage
Book purchased in-store from Strange Adventures

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

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