REVIEW: ‘Play it Cool, Guys’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Play it Cool Guys Volume 1

Play it Cool, Guys started as a webcomic series and is finally available in physical form with two additional exclusive chapters. Released localized in Englis by Yen Press (Originally published in Japanese by Square Enix), Play it Cool Guys Volume 1 is written and illustrated by mangaka Kokone Nata, translated by Amanda Haley, and features touch-up and letters from Lya Blakeslee. This slice of life comedy manga is a thin volume, with six small chapters. The first four focus on each of the “cool guys,” Hayate Ichikura, Shun Futami, Takayuki Mima, and Souma Shiki, with the last two bringing them together.

To put it simply, Play it Cool Guys is just a series of vignettes that showcase the lives of four quintessential “cool guys” who just so happen to be a bunch of clumsy dorks. Attractive and ranging from last year of high school to an established salaryman, each one of them is admired by those around them for having it all together when in reality they’re wearing numbers backward, pushing a pull-door, missing the opening on their coffees, and a forgetting their wallets. As a snapshot of life, Nata does a phenomenal job of clueing the audience into each of the characters’ idiosyncrasies, not just in their clumsy mistakes but in how they handle them.

While Play it Cool Guys is a simple manga, Nata takes their time setting up character dynamics and personalities that also make it a fun character study that pays off when the four of them cross paths with each other. This is done by identifying them all as absent-minded dorks with small variations that keep their personal stories interesting and not too similar.

Hayate is the “embarrassed and introspective type,” leading him to overthink every mistake he makes. A college student with no shortage of admirers, Hayate can’t get out of his own head long enough to feel popular. On the other hand, high school third-year Shun is the “bluffing stoic type,” telling everyone around him that all his mistakes are intentional – playing it cool to get past them.  Next is my personal favorite Takayuki who is the “unaware and unaffected type.” He is calm and completely unbothered by his clumsiness; in fact, those around him worry about it more than him. Something that may come with his age as the oldest of the main characters at 27. Finally, you have Takayuki’s younger brother Souma who, unlike his brother, is very aware of his mistakes but whose optimism makes him the “self-accepting positive type.” Wearing the wrong socks, welp, I guess it’s a fashion statement. While he is similar to Shun, he truly believes that his mistakes aren’t bad, whereas Shun sees his clumsiness as parts of him that he can’t let people see.

But beyond strong solo characters, Nata brings each of their “cool guys” together excellently. At the end of each chapter, Nata has them crossing paths before transitioning into the next vignette. And when Nata brings the characters into each other’s orbit, my BL-loving heart can’t help but flutter, especially when it comes to the way that Hayate and Takayuki hit it off. While this might not come to fruition, it’s an element that I think opens up possibilities for future volumes to explore how each of the characters grows with each other and are influenced by one another. That can happen without romance, but for Hayate and Takayuki, at least, it doesn’t seem like that will be the case.

The intricacies in the character work are matched equally by Nata’s stunning art. Play it Cool Guys Volume 1 is full-color, and Nata uses that to their advantage with each chapter a different color representing the different characters. Instead of being printed on regular white paper, each page background is notably a pastel matched to a corresponding type. The last two chapters of the volume are also different colors.

Overall, Play it Cool Guys Volume 1 is a quick read with a big impact. It’s fun, cool, wholesome, and really really relatable. Ever forget to plug your headphones in? Ever start walking in the opposite direction of where you need to go? These cool guys do it all the time.

Play it Cool, Guys Volume 1 is available now wherever books are sold.

Play it Cool, Guys Volume 1
5

TL;DR

Overall, Play it Cool Guys Volume 1 is a quick read with a big impact. It’s fun, cool, wholesome, and really really relatable. Ever forget to plug your headphones in? Ever start walking in the opposite direction of where you need to go? These cool guys do it all the time.