Manga-ka: Kaori Monchi
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2009
Synopsis: “A present needs a running mate – and just like that, Kokusai appoints Chiga to be his vice-president! How did a slowpoke upperclassman like Kokusai win an election, anyway?! Sure he does seem to have an almost uncanny ability to attract stalkers, peeping toms and other degenerates, but Kokusai’s so helpless he can barely take care of himself, let alone a student body. It quickly becomes clear that Chiga’s major vice-president duty will be to keep Kokusai out of harm’s way, but is he up to the task? Furthermore, will all the time they have to spend together in student government cause Chiga himself to fall under Kokusai’s spell?”
Kokusai, soft-spoken and hardworking, is student-council president and he chooses the more stoic, keep-to-himself, Chiga as his vice-president. Far from only having their schoolwork to worry about however, Chiga and Kokusai must first overcome the irresistible allure of Kokusai to gropers on the train, perverts and stalkers.
While the first chapter did a good job introducing the characters, I found the story told from Chiga’s perspective to be pretty dull, which is how the introductory chapter goes along. He worries about Kokusai a lot, though with apparent good reason considering how Kokusai allows anyone to do whatever they wish with him, but the wishy-washy ‘do I, don’t I, attitude got on my nerves. Thankfully this opening part of the book doesn’t last long and swiftly the story swerves to follow Kokusai.
Suffice to say, Chiga and Kokusai quickly develop some awkward tension between them and the thoughts weigh heavily on Kokusai’s mind. Why is Chiga suddenly so close and protective? How does he feel? Was a kiss just a kiss?! So forth, and so forth. This makes up the majority of the book with each relationship-related step taken is another ten pages of questioning it. Fortunately Kokusai is oddly charming in his insecurities, and while sometimes they drag on to long, they were still pretty entertaining thanks to his little freak-out moments.
The book flows pretty smoothly from the point that Kokusai’s perspective takes over, but occasionally Chiga-dominated flashbacks still pop in to put a damper on the plot’s fluidity. This coupled with Chiga’s pretty blah attitude make him my biggest complaint about the book. There’s also next to no real sense of depth to either of the characters but it seems a sacrifice the manga-ka was more than willing to make in order to fill each and every page with stunned stares and beating hearts.
Kaori Monchi’s artwork wasn’t one of the book’s winning features either but it is one that grew on me over time. The characters are rather lankily proportioned and the whole thing has a very light, sketchy feel to it. The faces however were what turned me off the visuals with oddly placed, flat noses and vacant eyes. Characters were rendered much better the more expressive they were, thanks to exaggerated features and cover-up blush lines, and because of this I found the more vibrant Kokusai to look a lot better in the style than the flat, Chiga.
Sex-wise, Hey, Class President! Earns its mature rating with some steamy sex scenes that still remain light on the graphic nudity. The artist goes for the more erotic approach with how-good-it-feels inner-thoughts, embarrassing one-sided banter and a drawn out pace that makes for an effectively sensuous mood.
On the publisher side of things, 801Media’s presentation of the work gets well-deserved thumbs up from me with a sturdy stiff-paper cover and full-colour first page. The translation was smoothly written and the lettering nicely placed. My only complaint with Digital Manga (the company for which 801Media is an imprint of) would be the synopsis provided on their website for the book, different than the synopsis on the book which is the one I used above, because it makes me question if I even read the same book that they did.
Come the end of this first volume, I found I had generally enjoyed it though I wouldn’t call it especially memorable. It has a pretty low-key feeling that’s low on events and high on the blushing-nervousness, but there’s enough here that I can see how it’d be people’s cup of tea. If you don’t mind sacrificing character depth for a lot of emotional mush, then you’ll probably enjoy this surprisingly impassioned boys’ love story.