Boys Be Vol. 1

by Patrick King

I always appreciate finding something a little different from other titles I’ve read. Boys Be, a romantic title speckled with pleasing little sparkles of fan service, surprisingly falls into that category.

In most bookstores, if you close your eyes, spin around, and put your hand on a random manga title, chances are you’re going to find yourself holding a shoujo release.

Shoujo comes in a multitude of flavors, from adventure shoujo (like Ceres) to pure romance series (such as Boys Over Flowers). The genre’s as common as trees in a forest.

When I first discovered Boys Be, I couldn’t help but think it was going to be just another tree. After reading it, however, I realized something rather significant.

Boys Be is not shoujo. It obviously features tender tales of romance between young protagonists. The artwork emphasizes characters more than scenery, with extra details normally expected to be found within the pages of a given shoujo release.

However, this book focuses on the male perspective of romance rather than the female. Guys in Boys Be aren’t perfect, but they are realistic. The manga is really a collection of unrelated short stories typically revolving around a boy and a romantic experience. Some of these are quite tender (and at least one is slightly naughty – but nothing a teenager can’t handle), treating the featured characters as real people with an impressive amount of depth for a short story.

What’s more impressive is that the author could’ve simply thrown in a few panty shots and called it a day if he wanted to attract a male audience. Instead, the author and artist present in these pages a good mix of playful teasing along with some honestly worthy stories.

Tamakoshi Hiroyuki does well illustrating Itabashi Masahiro’s plots. He instills emotion into his characters and creates an appropriately diverse cast of players in this different sort of romance anthology. Hiroyuki’s style differs from that of other manga artists in that his characters seem a little plumper than the average protagonist. They don’t seem overweight, but certainly appear fleshier than the stick-like figures that populate a typical romance series.

Boys Be is a refreshing series that was written for guys seeking a little romance manga of their own. In that regard, it is easily worth a look if you’re one such guy.

And ladies, don’t feel as if this isn’t a book that would appeal to you. The story might be told from the perspective of the men out there, but they’re equally charming to either sex. Truth be told, a title like this offers a rare and insightful look into the male psyche – and something that thankfully goes a tad beyond “look, hooters!”

Though, to be honest, thoughts like that tend to occupy a disproportionate amount of the male thinking process. At least this book shows that something else is percolating along with the stuff we know is going on in our heads.

About This Item

  • Boys Be Vol. 1

  • Format:
    Right-Left Manga / 216 pgs.
  • Production:
    TOKYOPOP / Itabashi Masahiro / Tamakoshi Hiroyuki
  • Rating:

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