REVIEW: ‘Toilet-bound Hanako-kun,’ Volume 9

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9

Get ready because Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 hurts, as Yashiro, Kou, and even readers will be faced with an impossible choice. AidaIro tells the story of Nene Yashiro as she works with school mystery Hanako-san of the Toilet. The supernatural manga is published in English by Yen Press and received an anime adaptation in the 2020 winter season. Volume 9 is translated by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley; it is lettered by Nicole Dochych.

The start of Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 might have readers thinking they missed something and double-checking the end of Volume 8, but don’t worry: Yashiro and Kou are just as confused. Both head to school like any normal day, except Hanako and Minamoto, are their classmates. Apparently, the two have been human, and friends with them their entire lives, and no one else knows any differently. Hanako is Amane and struggles to ask Yashiro out on a date. Kou and Minamoto are childhood friends. It all truly is too good to be true, a paradise reality where all the traumas of the story haven’t happened to these kids.

This is what makes Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 so heartbreaking…because it’s happy. As much as readers want to bask in the joy alongside the characters, just like Yashiro and Kou, there is an inexplicable feeling that something is “off.” What that exactly is isn’t explained until a decent portion into the volume. The structure works in this case; dropping the readers right in the thick of things creates a jarring and disorienting feeling. However, instead of taking one out of the story, it furthers the immersion since Yashiro is just as confused. It also forces readers into a moral dilemma alongside the characters, in the vein of stories like the final semester of Persona 5 Royal. Nene and Kou are forced to ask the question: “So what?” Is it actually bad to live in this world if it provides a better life for everyone involved? If the death, murder, and trauma have been erased and replaced with healthier memories?

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 is a pinnacle example of why this series is so special. The distinctive art style and cutesy moments lure readers in before the horror and deeper themes set in. Additionally, this is a series that truly lets the kids be kids. Sure, they are dealing with trauma, but even amid the supernatural, it feels realistic. AidaIro takes their characters seriously and writes AND draws them realistically for their age. They are thirteen and starting high school. They are all at the age where they are both children and trying to grow into adults too fast.

The manga excels in this, even with the humor. The kids have cute crushes, get awkward and embarrassed, but there are also more suggestive jokes and encounters that could arguably be called “sexy.” However, it never feels exploitative, which it easily could since these are children and are definitely drawn to look as such. Instead, these moments give the readers a laugh but truly feel made for the characters. While the cast may not be sexually active, that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of sex at this age, so it is fun to see a series play with that in the humor in a genuine, tenderhearted way. Additionally, some people may get some queer coding out of Volume 9, but since nothing is explicit, that is definitely open to reader interpretation. Personally, I have frequently gotten the impression that Kou and Minamoto may have feelings for one another, but their friendship is also new, and they are young and don’t know how to navigate it. If there is something more, neither are likely aware of it. This volume gives a glimpse into what could have been for them, and readers can choose to take it however they wish. Either it’s two possibly queer kids awkward with each other, OR it is a lovely display of platonic friendship between two teen boys. Additionally, even when Kou’s friends poke fun at his behavior around Minamoto, it is never in a negative context. It truly seems like all the friends are trying to tease out the answer about his feelings. All interpretations are valid, and it makes this a gem.

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 will make readers laugh, cry, and despair. I cannot wait for the next volume, though I know it will be painful. It truly represents everything beautiful about this series and why it should be a must-read.

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 is available now wherever books are sold.


Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9
5

TL;DR

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 9 will make readers laugh, cry, and despair. I cannot wait for the next volume, though I know it will be painful. It truly represents everything beautiful about this series and why it should be a must-read.