• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible

What's It About? 

First year high schooler Junta Shiraishi is a mob character who goes unnoticed even when he's standing right next to you. But his classmate, "heroine-level beauty" Kubo, always notices him and is there to tease him. Anyone can become special to someone, but it might be a little too early to call these feelings "love."

Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible has story and art by Nene Yukimori with English translation by Amanda Haley. Viz Media has released its first volume both digitally and physically for $6.99 and $9.99 respectively.

Is It Worth Reading?

Christopher Farris


So what we have with this one is another entry in the trendy "Cheeky girl annoys nebbish boy" romance genre. The twist, in this case, is that said boy is presented as such an indistinct cipher of a lead that he's rendered straight-up unnoticeable to most of the world at large. And despite Shiraishi being quantifiably that sort of potato, lead girl Kubo just thinks he's neat. That rather quickly lays out the series' central dynamic: Kubo isn't simply harassing Shiraishi because making him squirm is something she finds amusing or endearing, she's actively trying to bring out his presence and engagement with the rest of the world.

A lot of what makes Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible work is Nene Yukimori knowing when to toe the line on the exaggerations and antics of the story. That can mean shifting from making the point that Shiraishi might not be as unremarkable as he thinks to playing up his social invisibility as a near-superpower based mostly on how funny things might be at the moment. Similarly, Kubo's teasing of him never reaches for the intense, fetishized levels of the likes of, say, Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, instead embodying that sort of playfulness that comes out of her apparent affection for this dork and her interest in pushing his specific social idiosyncrasies as far as she can think to. It also helps that the story gestures at the point that Shiraishi actually has a personality beneath his seeming blank slate which Kubo might find appealing, from his caring relationship with his baby brother to the surprising thoughtfulness he put into a Christmas present for her in a bonus chapter at the end. Her reactions and attachments here result in enough obvious chemistry that you probably won't be more than four chapters in before you just want to throttle Shirashi and yell "Come on, dude!"

A one-joke setup like this does mean the overall rhythm of the piece gets a bit repetitive as it goes on. You can only show Shiraishi being unnoticeable or Kubo flashing shit-eating-grins so many times before we get used to the general structure and our minds start to wander in regards to how this relationship might actually progress. A lot of the presentational humor is carried by that propensity for funny faces, or choice descriptions of emotional reactions like "Shiraishi has closed for the day". And it's definitely got the functional appeal of communicating that "Just kiss already!" feeling between the leads that's essential to a story like this. There's just the very vague sense of Kubo advancing her efforts at making her intentions on Shiraishi clearer towards the end of this volume, spurred on by the story introducing her older sister (who rules, by the way), and there's definitely appeal past the romance in the potential to see Shiraishi work his way up to getting roasted by Kubo's entire family. For a first volume though, this makes for a 'cute enough' genre entry to stand out in a field that's increasingly filling up.

Jean-Karlo Lemus


Nene Yukimori's first work to be made available in the US, Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible is a fluffy romantic comedy about Shiraishi, a young man in his first year of high school who suffers from a terminal case of being overlooked. His classmate Kubo is the only person who regularly notices him—usually in the name of playing tricks on him. Kubo's gentle pranks are sweet and fluffy; they bring to mind the kind of teasing you'd see in Tsurezure Children: throughout the entire volume, Shiraishi is blindly fumbling within the palm of Kubo's hand as she finds sneaky ways to hold his hand, take selfies with him, or ask him on Christmas dates. It's cute, but not particularly deep. The art is cute, with Shiraishi looking like a cartoony blob much of the time and devolving into a cartoony scribble when it's funniest. Panels can sometimes be blank and devoid of backgrounds, but I do give credit to cute details like the cartoony geezer of a teacher that oversees Shiraishi's class, or how Shiraishi's favorite manga is “Funter × Funter”. Kubo is drawn much more angelically as she fawns over Shiraishi. We also don't have any real insight into Kubo herself, either, let alone why it is she likes Shiraishi. While Shiraishi is written like any young teenager, loving games and having a terrified-yet- morbid interest in naughty magazines, there isn't much to know about Kubo outside of her frustrated yet playful attempts at trying to get closer to Shiraishi. It all adds up to Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible being a very sweet, sugary treat, but not a very substantial one. A bit more character insight would go a long way, but at least it's really cute and fluffy.

Rebecca Silverman


Shiraishi's the kid I know all too well, because I've been him – the one people turn to in February and say, “Wait, you were in this class?” The main difference is that I felt safe being invisible; Shiraishi doesn't seem to have any strong feelings about it whatsoever, unless it's a situation where an automatic door doesn't recognize him or people almost sit down on him because he's not just off their radar, he's below it. This difference is significant because it takes the story from something that had the potential to be very uncomfortable to a much lighter tale, because there is one person who always knows that Shiraishi's there: his classmate Kubo. And Kubo has no intention of letting him slip through life unnoticed.

It's no great shock that pretty, perky Kubo has a crush on Mr. Invisible, and at times it does feel like she's getting a little too much out of teasing him. She's desperate to have him notice her, and that translates into her actively interacting with Shiraishi even when it's perhaps not the best timing, like when he actually doesn't want to have to answer questions in class. She does realize that he's as oblivious as he is unseen, and again, this is treading a fine line, because Kubo's fairly aggressive in a flirty way in her interactions with Shiraishi as she goes above and beyond to let him know that she's into him. And he's certainly not averse to her, as we see in the chapter where he narrowly avoids an indirect kiss or when he thinks about how much he likes the way she smells. But she does come on strong, and since Shiraishi isn't as expressive about his feelings, that could make Kubo's actions come off as meaner than they're intended to be. I don't feel like she ever crosses a line into bullying – she does make him a bit uncomfortable in a few cases, and the major issue is that she doesn't seem to be aware of it. That's probably more an indication of their age than anything else, because we see her older sister similarly making Kubo uncomfortable when she teases her; Kubo's simply not mature enough yet to put the pieces together.

There isn't much to this volume, but it's mostly fun. The chibis are particularly entertaining and the story has enough sweetness to keep it readable and enjoyable. I'm not sure how many volumes the premise can stretch to, because it's already feeling thin by the end of this one, but as far as mostly harmless rom-coms go, this one is just fine.



Kubo is this season's addition to the rather popular "teasing" genre in manga. If you've read any of my other reviews on this website, then you would know that I am not the biggest fan of this genre. And while Kubo doesn't seem to possess any of the issues I have with similar stories, I also feel like there's still not a lot here. The story basically only revolves around one joke, which is that our main lead is passive to the point where people forget that he's even around. That said, author Nene Yukimori does get a bit creative with that gimmick: Shiraishi's passivity isn't just reflected in people's nonreaction to him – seemingly anything that relies on sensing other people's presence, like automatic doors, doesn't seem to work on him either. And while this naturally feeds into Shiraishi's already very apathetic and unobtrusive personality, I also like that it's not completely one-note, as there are some moments of fun from our small boy. It makes his interactions with female lead Kubo a lot more interesting than I originally thought they were going to be, as she is one of the only people that consistently sees him simply because she always has her eyes on him. and her teasing does come off as more playful than mean-spirited.

That said, I don't think the hook is strong enough to keep me engaged past this one volume. It's definitely not something I would consider bad, and if you were already a fan of the genre then I think it will be very much right up your alley. But if don't really care for similar stories, then I don't think this will be the one to convince you to get interested otherwise.

discuss this in the forum (58 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

back to The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
Feature homepage / archives