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May 27, 2011

Bento Bako Bonus: Seiho Boys’ High School 5 & 6

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Seiho Boys’ High School
Author: Kaneyoshi Izumi
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 5 and 6 (ongoing), $9.99 each
Vintage: April 2011 and June 7, 2011 (respectively) by Viz Media
Genre: Comedy, school life, slice-of-life, romance

[Volumes 3 and 4  review.]

Seiho Boys’ High School is a secluded private boys’ school located on an island only accessible by a long train ride or a ferry that only arrives two times a day. As a result of being so cut off from the outside world, the boys of Seiho High School, who are at that age when their hormones go wild, are girl crazy and desperate for female attention. Unfortunately, their lack of interaction with the opposite sex has left many of them tactless and especially awkward around girls, unused to having to curb their thoughts for the gentler sex. They’re so desperate for female contact, that Maki and his classmates go on a wild goose chase searching for a female ghost that is supposedly haunting their dorm during the Bon festival. As a result, we’re at last introduced to Momoi, the dorm’s famous recluse. However, the Bon festival lights do at least draw one spirit’s memory near, as Maki is visited by a special someone in his dreams. (make sure to have a tissue handy). Hanai takes center stage in the next part of volume 5. Inspired by a famous photographer, Hanai starts sneaking around the school taking photos of the guys to send to Fuyuka and her friends in exchange for various gifts (like cell phone straps from his favorite brand). Things go well, until the guys find out and demand the photos be destroyed. Fortunately, the most important boy, Kamiki, is willing to forgive him. The story jumps back to Maki and his first official date with Takano. A very nervous Maki nearly ruins the entire day, until he finally snaps out of it and realizes that he’s not nervous because he’s rusty with the ladies, but because he truly likes Takano. Maki’s not the only character having some bad luck, however. Fuyuka, after finally officially confessing to Kamiki, has the feeling that Kamiki has been avoiding her ever since instead of giving her a response. She goes to the Seiho school festival hoping for some answers, but is continually pushed aside as Kamiki deals with the festival. Even a pep talk from Hanai doesn’t do much good, but fortunately it’s all just a classic case of misunderstanding and assumption.

Volume 6 begins by taking us back to the school festival (so, a time period before the final chapter of the previous volume); specifically to its planning stages. In order to attract girls to their booth, Nogami decides they should cross-dress to appear cute and less intimidating. They go to school nurse Fukuhara where Nogami bizarrely demands Fuku take off her clothes. After Maki clears things up, Fuku, a yaoi fan, offers up pieces of her wardrobe for the class to use. This sets off a strange battle of emotions inside of Nogami, who becomes suddenly annoyed that his classmates will be wearing his girlfriend’s clothes, and blurts out an insult (as is his way, unfortunately) about Fuku’s clothing style to cover up his true feelings. This “observation,” however, travels back to the boys in his class, who insult Fuku’s style, making Nogami furious, but also causing him to reflect on her taste in a more observant manner. Frustrated that Nogami just doesn’t seem to understand her reservations, Fuku gives Nogami an ultimatum: figure out why she’s upset or she’ll break up with him. Nogami runs around the school looking for advice, but eventually comes to a conclusion on his own. We go from serious to silly next (or maybe silly to more silly, since it’s hard to take Nogami very seriously when he’s wearing a school girl sailor uniform), when Kamiki and Genda find a mysterious box in their room. Thinking the box was a prank, they seal it back up and “return” it to Nogami and Maki’s room. When Nogami and Maki open up the box, they find an absolute treasure inside: a rather large collection of porn. However, with dorm inspections coming up, they’re desperate to get rid of it, and so slip it into Hanai’s room to hide the evidence. By accident, the box eventually ends up back where it belongs, though the drama surrounding it will be a memory the boys will keep long after they graduate from high school. Things get back to a sense of normalcy with Maki and Takano…if you could call getting caught at night by an elderly school nun who gives them each a condom just in case (seriously) “normal.” This little “gift” is found by his friends, and Maki begins to feel he’s behind schedule compared to his dorm-mates, causing him to stress out over the status of his relationship with Takano.

Two more very entertaining books from Kaneyoshi Izumi. I wasn’t expecting much from this series when I first learned about it, but I’ve really come to love it to pieces. Izumi makes several comments throughout the volumes about her series not being much of a shoujo series, since it’s about the lives of a bunch of boys, but I think it fits the genre perfectly. It’s sweet, funny, heartbreaking at times, and a real joy to read. Plus, it’s full of good looking guys (and adorable girls). I hadn’t really noticed before, but as it’s more prominent in these two volumes (as a pair) I’ve noticed that Izumi likes her flashbacks and presenting her story out of order. Remarkably (and fortunately), Izumi handles this very well, and it’s easy to follow the story’s progression, which is not something I can always say about a series. It can be a little annoying at times, however, like the cliffhanger ending in volume 4 not getting resolved until the last chapter of volume 5. Most of the plot in these two volumes revolves around relationship troubles. Maki is finally to a point where he’s able to move past his last relationship and move forward with Takano…or he could, if he wasn’t so shy about admitting his feelings, which unfortunately leaves Takano feeling that he must not even like her. Kamiki and Fuyuka are amusing, if a little strange. Fuyuka is virtually obsessed, and a little desperate, to the point where she can be a little uncomfortable to read. I just want to tell her to calm down already and give Kamiki a break, but without knowing more about him as a person I realize it’s hard for her to deal with what seems to be a disinterested guy (just based on his actions…or rather lack thereof). They just need more time to get to know and understand each other. Of course, the most entertaining relationship is Nogami and Fukuhara (the school nurse). Nogami is so bull headed about everything that he’s hard for Fuku to deal with, but they genuinely care about each other. Fuku is still a little hung up on the forbidden aspect of the relationship, but Nogami insists on carrying all their worries alone. It’s obvious he’s trying to be a good man for her, but he’s trying way too hard; on the other hand, so is Fuku, who has been trying to change her image to match with her younger boyfriend. In the end, they have a lot more in common than they might think, and they’re perfect for each other, even though they’ve definitely got the rockiest relationship of the bunch. It’s all good, clean fun (well, sometimes not so clean, like the giant box of porn), and a real treat to read. There is that last chapter where the guys get hung up on sex, but it’s nice to see that Maki realizes it’s not about the sex, but about how he and Takano feel about each other, and that they should take their time getting to really know each other first. With so many sexually charged shoujo titles out there, it’s nice to see one taking it slow.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

A copy of volume 6 was provided by the publisher for review.

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