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Seiho Boys' High School Volume 1 & 2

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Seiho Boys' High School Volume 1 by Kaneyoshi Izumi, from Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media

Seiho Boys' High School Volume 1

MEN'S KOU © 2007 Kaneyoshi IZUMI / Shogakukan

The Bottom Line

Take a bunch of hot guys, throw them in an all-boys school that's miles from the nearest town and what have you got? Hey, it's not what you think — this isn't a boys love series, nor will a cross-dressing girl be hiding in their midst. No, Izumi Kaneyoshi has other things in mind; something more twisted and bittersweet than your usual cliché-ridden shojo manga series.

Izumi does something fresh and interesting here: she dares to show teenage boys who act like… teenage boys. They're hunky, but they're also flawed, funny and fascinating. An addictive and unconventional shojo series that's well worth a look.

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Pros

  • Features teenage boys who act like teenage boys instead of idealized stereotypes
  • Many stories have hilarious, off-color twists that catch the reader off guard
  • Bittersweet slice-of-life romances that are touching and not completely sappy
  • Female characters are not the usual cookie-cutter cuties, harpies or klutzes
  • Has lots of Abercrombie & Fitch-worthy eye candy, but refreshingly self-aware about it

Cons

  • Two sister complex romances in the first volume? A little bit too 'ew' for me.
  • While mostly endearing, the sometimes bawdy humor is definitely geared for older teens

Description

  • Original Title: Men's Kou (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Kaneyoshi Izumi
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: Vol. 1 - 978-1421537313 / Vol. 2 - 978-1421537320
  • Cover Price: $9.99 US / $12.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Pub. Date: Vol. 1 – August 2010 / Vol. 2 – October 2010
    Japan Pub. Date: Vol. 1 – January 2007 / Vol. 2 – May 2007
  • Book Description: Vol. 1 – 192 pages / Vol. 2 – 200 pages, black and white illustrations
  • More Manga by Kaneyoshi Izumi:

Guide Review - Seiho Boys' High School Volume 1 & 2

Seiho High School is an elite institution, but as far as the students of this all-boys academy are concerned, it might as well be Alcatraz. The boarding school is miles away from the nearest town, and is only accessible by a ferry. As a result, these teen boys rarely get to hang out with girls their age, and it's driving them a little batty.

But before you go thinking that 1) this is a boys love manga or 2) that some cross-dressing girl is going to show up and turn this into a reverse harem story, guess again. Seiho Boys' High School doesn't go down those well-trodden paths. Instead, it goes into the weeds where few shojo manga series dare to go. It dares to feature teenage boys who act like... teenage boys.

By that, I mean that they're not the idealized version of the sweet, charming, goofy teen guys you see in Kimi ni Todoke or Hana Kimi. Noooo. The boys in Seiho Boys High School are horn dogs, they have foot-in-mouth disease, they're fashion-challenged, they're slobs, they have complicated relationships. They're hunks with fab abs and Abercrombie & Fitch-worthy pecs – but they're also flawed, fascinating and endearing.

In Volumes 1 and 2, we meet Hanai, the "girly man" who asks his classmates to help him keep up his macho charade with his visiting girlfriend. We meet Nogami, the brilliant but totally tactless teenage horn dog. There's also Kamiki, the fashion-challenged hunk who can't pull together an outfit without the help of his sister, and there's Maki, a good-hearted guy who can't forget his prickly ex, Erika.

Each guy is easy on the eyes, but it's their personality quirks and how they deal with some awkward situations that make them lovable. Sure, these boys do and say dumb things, and some of 'em are hung up on porn, but Izumi reminds us that they're young guys on the cusp between being kids and adults, and refreshingly, they act like it.

What about the girls? Yes, there are gals here, and they aren't the usual cookie-cutter klutzy cuties, bullies or shy girls either. The girls that the Seiho High boys encounter are manipulative, sexy, sarcastic, awkward, fiercely independent and unpredictable, and when they're with the guys, sparks fly. While Izumi makes fun of the guys' quirks, her approach is egalitarian. She holds up a mirror to her female audience and tells them 'Hey, you drive guys nuts – and not always in a good way.'

The only downside here is the two brother/sister complex relationships featured in Volume 1. I know it's a common plot twist in shojo manga (see Marmalade Boy, Oh! My Brother and Hot Gimmick), but that doesn't make it any less icky for me.

Overall Seiho's upsides (especially in Volume 2) far outweigh this 'ew' factor. Izumi's down-to-earth humor, bittersweet romance and her fascinating, flawed characters makes Seiho Boys High School a very different, very satisfying and utterly addictive read. Only two volumes in, and I'm already hooked — pick it up and see if this unconventional shojo series captures your heart too.

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