Reviewby Lissa Pattillo, Aug 31st 2010
Seiho Boys' High School
On an island surrounded by ocean with only a single boat connecting it to land sits Seiho Boys' High School – an all boys' school where the inhabitants are left lusting for the women they cannot have. Dirty magazines and stories of the shore they left behind can only offer so much after all. But the boys can rest easy (or perhaps quite the opposite) when some girls make their way onto the island. First it's the girlfriend of an unlikely student, then the notice of the school nurse who happens to be female on this apparently female-less island and then finally the boys get the pleasure of meeting the sister of the school's favourite ‘hunk’. But it's not just easy-going oogle time as each female has their own issues revolving around their relationships (or lack thereof ) with the island's inhabitants that the boys of Seiho Boys' High School will do what they can to solve.
This is probably some of the closest material to boys' love Viz Media will release. More than one reader is likely to flip over the book to stare at the spine and double-check it is in fact a Viz Media book. While the initial BL-vibes are only just that, there're only so many blushing peer-invested boys you can ignore in an all boys' dormitory before your minds start thinking something's up. Then again what's a little arousing shampoo sniff between guy friends? It's all about the women here anyway.
The focus of the story is the comical desperation caused by an all male school out on an island, segregated from the rest of the world, and most specifically, from women. The first part of the book introduces us to the focal cast of characters, a circle of friends all living their days remorsefully lady-free in these years of adolescents. The story's lead is Maki, a fairly average young men with an honest personality and a fairly outgoing disposition ripe for the role as a shoujo-male lead. The other notable of the group is Kamiki, who is the school's most attractive, smart and talented individual - thusly he's also the one everyone swoons over. What else can they do with no women around? Their swooning is mostly admiration, gazing at him as the ‘perfect’ male by female standards and revering him most perhaps as a representation of what they themselves wish they could be. It proves notably refreshing though having some same-sex swooning that doesn't default to the girliest-guy-in-school in absence of an actual female.
Ever the topic of conversation, women are often spoken about as if objects but in a way that comes off more idolizing than objectified. The story's a comedy after all (which the cover art unfortunately doesn't denote in the slightest) and one that focuses around how sad and deprived this men are in the dramatic way only teenagers can be. They complain, cry, get frustrated, fantasize and have awkward conversations that range from the emotional to the brief but amusingly raunchy. Unfortunately it's all the comedy you'd expect and delivered so outright that it's never as funny as it wants to be. Despite their repeatedly iterated absence, women being around quickly becomes the story's primary quirk as episodic chapters find excuse to bring a solitary female into their midst.
In the first story we meet a student who speaks femininely and adores surrounding himself with things that are cute and frilly. These are among the things he obviously doesn't want his girlfriend to know about, having spent the duration of their relationship hiding it from her to spare her feelings. Starting an apparent trend of the series early on, his girlfriend is perceptive and mature about it as she comes onto the island to see him by surprise (albeit lacking a whole lot of personality past that), with Maki used as a sounding board for thoughts and a resolution eventually found. Much the same can be said for the next story about Kamiki's sister, the overly-involved family member responsible for his fashionable appearance, who comes to see him before she is married. Cue some sibling incest which feels oddly straight-forward in its execution – no one really finds their love for each other odd as siblings (granted they aren't blood-related), simply unfortunate because his sister is already engaged. Either way it's nice having a story that fleshes out Kamiki (to a point) so soon instead of holding him high on a pedestal for an extended period of time, even if the story itself feels rushed and eager to get his sister out of the way.
Easily the most memorable part of this volume however is Nogami, Maki's roommate. His flamboyance and crude speak-before-think personality makes him a laugh-out-loud addition to the story that transcends most of where the other comedy falls flat. The things he says are so blunt and often so inappropriate that you can't help but find it a bit shocking, and in contrast with his archetypical stern expression and glasses-wearing appearance, a bit hilarious as well. He returns from a trip off the island and promptly shares his experience with how “there are as many slutty women as there are stars in the sky” and proceeds to help make the school's plain looking nurse into a more confident and attractive looking women. This isn't the kind of person most would probably want to try to converse with in real life but as a two-dimensional character on paper, he works his role well enough.
At the book's end there's an unrelated short story about a young man being in love with his little sister (making that two incest stories in the series thus far). He meets a lively older woman and the two start spending time together in an effort to forget their broken hearts. This story is more melodramatic than comedic so it feels a bit out of place at the end of the main chapters but it's still a pretty compelling story in its own right.
Seiho Boys High School has some amusing elements to it however the episodic nature of its storytelling already feels tired by the end of a single volume. The artwork is standard for the shojo genre with a cast of young men who could all be classified as pretty-boys while still looking pretty average – a functional look but not a notable one. It's too bad though the cover art does so little to represent the content as it sports a simple picture of Kamiki looking faintly gaunt-model. Following the antics of these sexually deprived young men proves itself entertaining to a point but it's really going to need more than a girl-of-the-day formula and a few shock-value lines to hook the readers.
Overall : C-
Story : C-
Art : C
+ Candid scenes of boys being boys make for some empathetic comedy; good adaption by Viz Media does what it can for the story
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