Manga-ka: Kaneyoshi Izumi
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: October 2010
Synopsis: “Make may be the nice guy on campus, but he’s hiding a painful past. He’ll ned the help of his friends to get over it and find love. And when a local girl stops by the school to ask the boys to play the role of her boyfriend, will some take things too far?”
While the first volume of Seiho Boys High School quickly fell victim to a girl-of-the-day formula, this second book takes a distinctly different direction of storytelling and it’s all for the best. Choosing to follow a single relationship predominantly through the book, and one that could have lasting effects on the story to come, makes this a volume both important to the plot and a jump in storytelling quality overall.
Maki, the story’s presumably main character in the first volume, solidifies his standing here as the bulk of the book takes to a flashback of his junior high days. We’re introduced to a girl named Erika Harushima – a beautiful transfer student who Maki is asked to help around school. His classmates feel for him however has it quickly becomes apparently that Erika’s crass personality and reluctance to open up to others makes her less than enthralling to be around.
Through the book we see Maki and Erika get closer, albeit not as smoothly and stereotypically as any would come to expect. Watching the two bicker is cute and that’s only exasperated for readers by how not fun it is for Maki and Erika. Maki continually works to befriend her, Erika pushes him away and the student body continually chides Maki’s attempts in light of Erika’s less than friendly disposition.
Eventually Maki starts looking at Erika in a more romantic way against all warnings from his friends to avoid the complication. What really makes this such an interesting read is how it follows the progression of their relationship entirely from Maki’s perspective. Not only is this rapport really different from your usual shoujo fare, its fresh delivery also provide its own charms. I really felt myself empathizing with Maki and doing so with a male character allowed the series to finally take advantage of its greatest potential when telling the tale of pining males in an all-boys school.
Before and after the flashback chapters are two present-day female encounters that fit the trend of volume one. While the second – which bookends the volume with a girl looking for someone in the Seiho group to pose as her boyfriend – is an amusing chapter, the first in the book proves the memorable of the two. When a girl along with her brother on tour of the school clings to Maki, he tries to see past her less than admirable qualities in order to appreciate the attention from a pretty girl. When her spoiled behaviour doesn’t abate, Maki’s friends and classmates come to his aid to drive the girl from the school. It’s a somewhat difficult scene to watch as any group bullying scene would be but it’s so fun and refreshing watching that bratty, insensitive little attention-grubber get told the what-whats and sent away that it’s more entertaining than difficult for readers.
Seiho Boys High School is one of those series that makes me keep up with my ‘give a series at least two volumes’ rule. Had I only read the first volume, I wouldn’t have had much reason or motivation to keep reading. After volume two however, I’m really looking forward to subsequent releases.