Shy boy and a “manic pixie dream girl” are the standard for shonen romances, and Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Volume 1 fits that to a tee. The series is created, written, and illustrated by Nene Yukimori, and is published and localized in English by VIZ Media via their Shonen Jump imprint. Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Volume 1 is translated by Amanda Haley, with touch-up art and lettering by Snir Aharon.
In this series, Junta Shiraishi blends into the background so much that even his classmates fail to spot him. I mean, in order not to be counted absent, he has to go up to his teacher at the end of class every day despite how loudly he yells “present.” His goal is to make the most of his high school years, but that pesky invisibility gets in his way. It’s hard to live life to the fullest when no one around you even acknowledges you exist. That is until Nagisa Kubo notices him and turns his life upside down.
With a crush on Shiraishi, Kubo channels her “like” into playful teasing that increasingly kicks Shiraishi out of his comfort zone. From asking him to stand on his desk to borrowing manga, her teasing becomes a quick friendship, and she obviously wants to become something more.
The progression of Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Volume 1 is a little fast-paced. Told through what feels like vignettes that show their relationship growing rather than one linear story, alá Shikimori’s Not a Cutie, Kubo and Shiraishi’s relationship is an adorable one. When Kubo sits next to Shiraishi in their first year of high school, Shiraishi’s nonexistent social skills get a boost because she pushes him to do more than he thinks he can.
The downfall to Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible is that Kubo isn’t a character who does anything that doesn’t revolve around Shiraishi. Everything she does, she does for her crush. This flattens her personality into just yet another “manic pixie dream girl” in a long line of the trope. While this isn’t bad per se, it is boring, at least from my position. Kubo is cute and reliable, and I’m sure the kind of girl that every shy boy wishes would have come along in high school. That said, I think this clear shonen romance is built for that very specific demographic of experiences. It isn’t bad, but it does make the audience that will enjoy Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Volume 1 a small one.
While I may not be the target audience for Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Volume 1, I can wholeheartedly say that this manga manages to get into the fan-service-lite while balancing a wholesome budding romance at the same time. This balance is maintained because Yukimori takes the time to present Kubo’s perspective on the whole situation. While Shiraishi is our lead, his emotions aren’t the only thing in focus, and that helps keep this manga grounded and adorable at the same time, even if one chapter is all about Kubo sitting on Shiraishi’s lap.
Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible Volume 1
While I may not be the target audience for Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Volume 1, I can wholeheartedly say that this manga manages to get into the fan-service-lite while balancing a wholesome budding romance at the same time.
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.