Sarah's Reviews > Seiho Boys' High School!, Vol. 1

Seiho Boys' High School!, Vol. 1 by Kaneyoshi Izumi
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's review
Jul 27, 10

bookshelves: manga-wha-hua
Read in July, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Originally posted here at Anime Radius.


A lot of expectations and preconceived notions naturally follow any manga series published under the Shojo Beat banner: a dramatically told love story that is heavy on the romance and drama and told from the female perspective specifically for the female gaze. Seiho Boys High School!, as it stands right now in its premiere volume, is really none of those things. Sure, it has some dramatic moments and the purpose of the series is so its cast can one day find romance, but it's a series about horny teen boys on a secluded high school who see more girls in the pages of magazines than in real life. Hell, at one point two boys end up fighting over the rights to read a pile of porno mags; they are not exactly the dreamy mature lads from series like Hana-Kimi or Boys Over Flowers, not by a long shot - which is good, because I honestly think this series would be dead boring if they were.

Boys like Nogami and Maki don't really live in the world of reverse harems seen in Ouran, and you'd do well to not categorize Seiho Boys High School! as a reverse harem manga: even if the ratio of boys to girls is overwhelming based on premise alone, it's not about which boy will which girl hook up with in the end or even about the girls at all. This series consciously decides to not view the boys' school for a female gaze, showing all of the gross and unkempt things that naturally arise from a ton of adolescent males living in dorms and rejects romanticizing their lives in favor of showing what happens when boys who don't talk to the opposite sex on a regular basis cope when meeting one after a long girl-less dry spell (hint: it is not pretty for anyone involved, as poor Ayako found out the hard way in her respective chapter).

Despite it having a lot of things going for it in terms of being out of the ordinary, Seiho Boys High School! somehow manages to stumble over the starting line by committing a terrible fallacy often seen in series that want to be unique by doing half the work required: it tries to pander to the same characteristics found in so many shojo manga before it, from the fireworks at the beach to stealing a bike and riding off into the sunset with someone else's girlfriend. There's even a smattering of sister complexes that would seem by-the-number if it weren't for the actual characters involved. In the process of embracing some tired tropes, the series self-consciously laughs them all off and occasionally subverts them to humorous effect, but even this can't hide the self-doubt it has in its own message: a manga series about boys for girls that isn't bishonen city 24/7. Sadly, this self-esteem problem routinely manifests itself from the mouth of the manga-ka herself; Izumi doesn't seem very confident in her work, comparing it at one moment to a weed in a bookstore and practically begging her readers to buy her work. This kind of humble-is-me pandering is usually typical in manga-ka's side notes, but coupled with the in-story issues the series already suffers from, perhaps it would not have hurt Izumi to show a little more faith in her own work's strengths.

What exactly are Seiho Boys High School!'s strengths? For one thing, it is wickedly funny, especially the blue humor that shows up during the scenes in the boys' dorms, whether they be fighting over porny mags or yelling at a certain "butt-scratching prince". The artwork works hand-in-hand with Izumi's own sense of comedy, especially when it comes to facial expressions (it seems that the usually low-key Maki gets to wear the best of these, followed by the always overly dramatic Nogami). It takes its time setting up what will probably be the series' usual cast of characters, but there are hints galore that now it is more comfortable in its setting and story foundation, the only direction that Seiho Boys High School! can possibly go is up - and with it, the size of its readership. Only the release of the second volume will truly tell, and hopefully enough people will hang around for it to see how this manga stands on its own two feet.
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