Story and art: Yoko Nogiri
Genre: Romance, School, Shoujo
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumour has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?
Publication date: 16th February 2021
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Midori Nanami is your typical shoujo protagonist. She’s sweet, well-meaning and kind of an airhead. On her first day of high school, Midori drops her wallet with her family’s weekly food budget in, only for it to be reclaimed by one of her new classmates, Ichijo. Ichijo and his two friends Ieiri and Goshima keep themselves to themselves, and there are tonnes of rumours swirling round school about them, some true and some not so much. When Midori is caught coming out of her part-time job, the highschool chairman strikes her a deal – get Ichijo and co. to attend school regularly, and he’ll help her find a school-sanctioned job.
I’ve read the mangaka’s other work, Love in Focus and That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!, and Those Not-So Sweet Boys does bear some similarities. This is more obvious with That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! with the inclusion of a group of boys that the protagonist gets close to, some more willingly than others. Those Not-So Sweet Boys isn’t a cut and copy though – for one thing, none of the boys can change into animals, or haven’t done yet anyway! The mangaka’s previous two manga feature wonderful characterisation and deep relationships, and Those Not-So Sweet Boys is no different.
Whilst it certainly feels that Ichijo is being set up to be the canon romance, Ieiri and Goshima are also awarded the same development. Whilst the opening volume admittedly focuses on Ichijo primarily, there’s a lot introduced which will open up Ieiri and Goshima in future volumes, making it more difficult for the reader to decide who to root for.
The title of the manga is an interesting one to me, as none of the boys seem particularly ‘not-so sweet’. Once you know a little about their backstories, they all seem to have their reasons for wanting to isolate themselves, and whilst they act a little distant towards Midori, none of them are outwardly cruel to her.
Midori is very aware of the effect the boys have on her early on, which is interesting to see, as normally it takes shoujo protagonists a long time to realise they have feelings for anyone. I hope that future volumes focus on Midori understanding her feelings, rather than rejecting them, and there’s certainly a lot of promise for romance in Midori’s near future.
Volume 1 of Those Not-So Sweet Boys was a great introduction to the story. It made me really care about all of the characters, and I look forward to continuing the manga in the future. Those Not-So Sweet Boys offers the perfect blend of romance, drama and comedy, and was a joy to read.
NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.