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Review: Seiho Boys’ High School, vol. 1-2

The young men who attend Seiho Boys’ High School are smart, funny, interesting…and completely frustrated by the lack of girls! With the nearest action fifty miles away, how are they supposed to survive for three whole years? And if by chance a girl does turn up on campus, can they keep from acting like complete idiots?

Seiho Boys’ High School, vol. 1-2
Kaneyoshi Izumi
Age Rating: Older Teen/16+
VIZ Media, $9.99
Vol. 1: August 2010, ISBN 978-1-4215-3731-3, 192 pages
Vol. 2: October 2010, ISBN 978-1-4215-3732-0, 184 pages

At first glance, Izumi’s manga series may seem an odd choice for VIZ’s Shojo Beat (girl’s) line. There’s a lot of discussion of porn, sex, the physical attributes of women, etc. Pretty much par for the course for a school made up entirely of boys. At times these discussions veer way over into stereotypes, making the young men look like buffoons driven by their “downstairs brains” and making the women seem like cheap cuts of meat. The second story of the first volume is particularly troublesome, as we watch a young man with an over inflated sense of self badger the shy school nurse about her mousy looks and her big breasts. Supposedly he sees the error of his ways and falls for her, but that resolution is not fully realized, so neither party comes out of the tale looking good.

But there are others stories which more subtly examine the interactions between the sexes. The last chapter of the first volume (before the bonus story) is about a young man and his step-sister. Their feelings for each other are more than familial, but they are unwilling to put their happiness before that of their parents. Volume two starts out strong by looking into the past of Maki, the school’s nice guy and the sort-of main character of the series. It seems that Maki has a secret love in his past, one that he cannot seem to move past. His story is touching without losing the overall humorous tone of the whole series.

Interestingly enough, the boys tend to be rather accepting of homosexuality, despite their sometimes unenlightened views on women. The series starts off with a story about Hanai, a young man who needs to break up with the girl he was dating in middle school because he has finally decided to be who he really is. Like in most mainstream manga, Hanai’s homosexuality is never discussed openly, though it is mentioned in slang, and he is presented as a stereotypically flamboyant, “girly” type man (the characters’ word for his behavior), but he is also allowed moments of strength. Additionally, Maki refuses to allow Hanai to be bullied, which is a nice message to present to teens today.

In addition to the sexual themes of the series, there is some cussing and the bonus story in the first volume features a young man who has feelings for his sister and who gets involved in a sexual relationship with a college-age women. Izumi’s art is nothing beyond typical shojo, though she does lean towards the more realistic end of that scale. But for libraries who can handle slightly edgier manga and who are looking for something a little different for their shojo collections, Seiho Boys’ High School isn’t a bad choice.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © VIZ Media LLC

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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