by Yukie Nasu; adaptation by William Flanagan
published by Viz; $9.99 US
Most of the manga I’ve read have been continuing character-based shôjo stories. This book, in contrast, is more sitcom than soap opera.
The double-length opening chapter establishes the premise. Hasukawa has moved into a dorm at his school. Since he has a huge crush on his brother’s new wife, he thought it best not to continue living at their home. He’s already at a scholastic disadvantage, due to an ulcer putting him in the hospital a month past the start of the school year. The situation is complicated by his placement in Greenwood, a dorm with a reputation for housing weirdos.
His only guides are two handsome older students, and even though the school is for boys only, his roommate is strangely pretty and feminine. Hasukawa idolized his older brother, who raised him ever since their parents died, until his brother disappointed him by becoming the school nurse instead of taking a more respected business job.
There are four other chapters. Hasukawa has to find a place to stay over winter vacation, when the dorm is closed for New Year’s. On his way back, he winds up hanging out with a mysterious sick girl in a story that avoids the dorm setting. Then comes Valentine’s Day, and the last chapter explores the beauty of one of the older students and ends with “to be continued”.
The author plays with conventions of this type of story, setting up stereotypical situations only to make fun of them or their participants. Sometimes there are a few too many assumptions made on her part about the reader’s familiarity; I got lost once or twice, having to reread sequences carefully to understand the joke.
The dialogue, captions, and sound effects are scattered around the images, which make for full pages. As a result, the flows aren’t simple or basic. With the right-to-left direction, some readers may be challenged more than they want to be. The classic figure style kept the characters recognizable, though, and the pretty boys are pretty. (I think of this art approach as the “Maison Ikkoku” style because that was where I was first exposed to it, although this book has a more modern gloss.)
I feel sorry for Hasukawa — he feels his crush so intently, and he’s being so silly. He’ll grow out of it soon enough, but until then, he’s living in a situation similar to The Facts of Life.