Shojo manga has prefect the slice-of-life high school stories and that’s continued with Those Not-So-Sweet Boys from Yoko Nogiri, the mangaka behind That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!, a personal favorite romance of mine. Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1 is localized in English by Kodansha Comics , translated by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley, and letters by Sara Linsley.
In Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1, we meet hard-working high school first-year Nanami Midori. On the first day of school, Midori drops her wallet and it’s quickly picked up by an intimidating group of boys. Struggling to get her words out, her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. When she gets to school she realizes that he and his two friends are in her class. But instead of getting to thank Ichijo, she realizes that the tight-knit trio never shows up to class. Having been suspended, the three decide to stay home past their suspension and this leads them directly into Midori’s path.
You see, Midori is a high-schooler with a part-time job and unfortunately, her job’s against the rules at her school. When the chairman of the school board finds out, he makes her a deal: Convince three boys who’ve stopped coming to school to return, and her transgression will be overlooked. In typical shojo fashion, Midori becomes the heroine of the boys’ story, befriending them, bringing them back to school, and doing what she can in order to help bring them back to social fold that sees the trio as outcasts.
Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1 is extremely adorable and wholesome. While there are small hints of a budding romance between Midori and Ichijo, the main focus of this volume is building understanding. The three boys, Rei Ichijo, the heir to the Ichijo Conglomerate, Yujinojo Ieiri, son of the Doctor of the Ieiri Clinic, and Chihiro Goshima, successor to the Goshima Gang. All rich, the three have made a name for themselves as outcasts, mainly due to Goshima’s family being involved in crime. But, their backgrounds don’t matter to Midori. To Midori, they’re just three boys in need of a friend, and someone to help dispel rumors and show the school that they’re not the troublemakers they think them to be.
While Midori initially enters their life out of necessity to save herself, her relationship with the three evolves into a real one. She not only cares about them, but she can see past the assumptions other make. But what makes Midori even more compelling is that these are boys she shouldn’t care for. They, for the most part, have everything because they have money, while Midori struggles to help pay the debt that her “garbage debt” left her family with.
Nogiri does an amazing job writing the characters to showcase the perspective they’re being viewed from. When Ichijo attempts to push Midori away from the trio, we see the wall that he is putting up plainly. He plays the role of a delinquent well but this is balanced through Midori’s idea of him: the guy who saved her wallet. For her, no matter the facade he puts on, Midori knows that someone who doesn’t hesitate to help someone in need can’t be bad. That thread is carried with Midori as she hears rumors and as she’s pushed away.
Additionally, each boy is given a personality that goes beyond “attractive shojo high schooler.” We see their motives and what they add to their group dynamic. But because they are all different from each other, we also see how Midori navigates helping each them.
Overall, Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1 is a joy to read and I can’t wait to see how their friendship blooms. But, I’m even more excited to see how a messy shojo high school romance also plays out given the bread crumbs dropped in the last chapter of this volume.
Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1 is available now, wherever books are sold.
Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1
Overall, Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Volume 1 is a joy to read and I can’t wait to see how their frienship blooms. But, I’m even more excited to see how a messy shojo high school romance also plays out given the bread crumbs dropped in the last chapter of this volume.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.