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Review: Can’t Win With You! (Vol. 01) – eManga Edition

Reviewer: Jaime Samms

Author: Satosumi Takaguchi
Manga-ka: Yukine Honami
Publisher: eManga
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: 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!”

I used to think I was not a fan of the school boy stories, however, I keep reading them, so I guess I must see something in them after all. This one uses the typical excuse of a school full of hormonal boys to explain why they are constantly all over each other.

Volume one is setting out to be a pretty traditional take on the theme, with the main character being the sweet and innocent uke who doesn’t know what’s going on, and when he figures it out, has no idea what to think about it. A couple of themes in this book might not be for everyone, starting with the age difference between the protagonist and the rest of the boys, and including the way the older boys seem to have no compunction taking advantage of him. It’s one of those things you either accept as being part of the genre (and manage to look past), or you don’t, and if you belong to the latter group, this story will not be for you.

There is a sub plot involving Hayate and Kanya, two older boys who have been going to school together for a while and who actually seem to feel something for one another, but who aren’t doing such a bang-up job of looking out for one another. I hope this plot line brings the boys to a happy ending. The fact that this relationship actually deals, to some extent, with the idea that an uke might want to have a choice I found very interesting. It makes me feel for Hayate, because he clearly does not want to service the older boys, and his feeling of being taken advantage of is most definitely interfering with his relationship with Kanya. I like that kind of real, believable character development.

I can’t get into the main relationship as much, mostly because I find it difficult to believe a kid with so little experience or knowledge would be given the kind of supposed responsibility he’s been given, or that he would not be carefully watched by his older brother to make sure he’s okay. The plot just seems stretched a little thin for me on that point.

The art however is lovely. Maybe part of my liking of the secondary couple so much stems from the art, and the very soulful expression Hayate always seems to have. He seems to be a very fully realized character in the art, more so than the main characters. The amount of detail in the drawing is wonderful too.

I’m always of mixed feelings when it comes to chibi characters though. On one hand, it’s a great shorthand to get to the heart of a really strong or sudden emotion, but on the other, I just prefer the more realistic drawing. There’s a lot of chibi art in this story, I’m finding. By the time I get to the end of the series, however, I might even grow a deeper appreciation for it.

This is the first manga I’ve read online through eManga with the idea of reviewing it, so I thought I’d mention a bit of the pros and cons of that, too. I like the price, I have to say. The idea of ‘renting’ the stories I might never read again for a lower cost appeals to me. I can search out the titles I really like enough to own and it saves me spend a fortune on books that will sit on my book shelf never to be read again. So long as I read fast enough, the cost of doing it this way is definitely worth it. I get to spend my money on the paper books I really want to own.

It does tie me to my computer, though, and because I’m also a writer, it’s more time in front of the screen, and that isn’t always something I want to do. Besides, coming from an art major background, I still cannot get past the idea that holding the paper book in my hands and pouring over the pages of art is just…nicer. Some books of manga I own definitely fall open to my favourite pages of art, and it somehow isn’t the same on the screen.

Overall I enjoyed this first volume of Can’t Win With You! enough to pick up volume two. I look forward to seeing how that secondary relationship plays out, and I’m interested in how the writer deals with the main relationship.

Review written August 2, 2010 by Jaime Samms
Digital copy provided by eManga for review purposes

Jaime Samms

About the Author:

Jaime Samms has been writing gay romance and fiction for quite some time now, and reviewing it for almost as long. She's published with e-publishers Freya’s Bower, Lovyoudivine Alterotica and soon, Total e-Bound and Drollerie Press. "Writing is quite a passion for me. I’ve been asked many times why write about love affairs between men, when I clearly am not one, and really, it feels right to me. Not a terribly informative answer, but there it is."

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2 Responses

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