Inu X Boku SS Vol.1-4 by Cocoa Fujiwara
Series: Youko X Boku SS #1-4
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Shounen, Romance, Humor, Paranormal
Synopsis: The Shirakiin house’s daughter, Shirakiin Ririchiyo, who has a complex about being unable to live independently and unprotected, feels the need to move out and live on her own under the condition of residing in the mansion named “Ayakashi Kan.” In this mansion, only those who have cleared a very strict examination could reside in it, and for each resident, they are accompanied with one agent of the Secret Service (S.S.). Although Riricho has rejected the company of the S.S., while residing in the mansion she finds out that the agent dedicated to protecting her is actually the Fox Spirit whom she previously rescued.
I first found out about Inu X Boku SS because of the anime adaption, which aired last year. I was sort of enamored by the whole show so I decided that reading the manga wouldn’t be a terrible thing to do, despite the suggestive and highly embarrassing covers. I’m glad I did. Inu X Boku SS is now one of those manga that I always revisit whenever I feel down and want to bust out laughing more than a few times.
Inu X Boku SS is far from being a perfect manga–so, so far–as sometimes the storytelling is a little messy and the paranormal aspect that is promised only shows itself a few times. But there is a certain loveliness that the series contains. The manga is funny, well-meaninged, and often times heartwarming, even with its flaws. Also, I consider the first four volumes as one complete series (hence the ‘kind of’ in the post’s title), since the mangaka decided to take a huge U-turn with the story (apparently, the first four volumes were only the prologue) and I didn’t like it very much.
The story opens up with Ririchiyo, a closed of girl with a sharp tongue, arriving at the Ayakashi Kan Mansion, a place for people with demons blood to reside, in hopes of becoming more independent and to escape her family. Unfortunately, it turns out that the mansion is filled with a bunch of weirdos, including an overzealous bodygaurd, that just won’t leave her alone. But strangely, Ririchiyo starts to realize that she might actually like them and even be breaking out of her shell.
I usually find that manga whose purpose is to make readers laugh tend to heavily rely on a simplistic premises and really, really over the top but easy to love characters. Inu X Boku SS is no different. It has a simple “I’m living with wackos and becoming a happier person because of it” story that is very flexible and characters that are extremely, well, weird and can still be loved. You can’t exactly complain about anything, unless you only like realistic characters, which you are SO not going to get here.
The residents of the mansion includes a pervy yet still awesome lady named Nobara, a quiet girl who can always be found munching on something (until she can have food, she wants food) and can turn into a gigantic skeleton named Karuta, a boy who is absolutely determined to be a bad boy, but just can’t do it properly, named Watanuki, a guy with bunny ears who is an endearing, random troll named Zange, a carefree guy who can turn into a freaking carpet named Renshounen, and a sadist who is obsessed with S&M named Kagerou. These supporting characters and their interactions with each other alone are enough to make a person laugh. And this isn’t even including the two main leads.
Ririchiyo and Soushi, her bodygaurd, are the spotlight of the series and are perfect example of the seriousness Inu X Boku SS can have of it wanted to. In the beginning, Ririchiyo seems like an anti-social person with a bad habit of insulting people but want to change and desires to be independent. I can’t exactly describe Soushi without making him sound like a complete creep… He is clingy, obsessive, and worships the ground Ririchiyo walks on. Simply put, he’s kind of a parody of all the clingy boyfriends out there. These two personalities often clash, normally causing hilarity to ensue.
In reality, though, the two are similar. Ririchiyo’s insults are part of an automatic defense mechanism (that she tries hard to change) that came to be because of the harsh bullying children put her through and the neglect from her family. Soushi, also bearing a bad childhood, had no self-esteem, zero self-worth, no emotions, and very vague sense of self, due to the terrible way he was raised, until he ‘met’ Ririchiyo. This is not only sad and gives extra depth to the characters, but it is also very unexpected from a romantic comedy manga. They will still make you laugh a lot, but you will always know that there is more purpose to them than just being comedic.
My favorite part of Inu X Boku SS is Ririchiyo’s story of meeting the people living in the mansion, befriending them, and coming out of her shell. They accept her for who she is and she accepts them for the crazy people they are. Her story is heartfelt and I loved it. Plus, the interactions she has with all of the residents are hilarious.
The romance in this manga is an aspect I am conflicted on because of the seven year age difference between Ririchiyo and Soushi, and Soushi’s… clinginess. I can’t hate the romance, though. The two really do help each other change for the better. So awhile I can’t say Soushi is boyfriend material (I think that many will agree with me), I wouldn’t say his relationship with Ririchiyo is unwelcome. There is also a little romance between Karuta and Watanuki, though it is mostly Watanuki blushing whenever Karuta says something sweet to him. It’s adorable and I totally ship them 😛
Fujiwara’s art is beautiful, with pretty characters and backgrounds. The only problem I have with the character designs, which are stunning, is the shortness of the teenage girls, Ririchiyo and Karuta. They aren’t so short that it is laughable, but compared to the most of the guys in the series, they look like preteens, which does make the relationship between Ririchiyo and Soushi, who actually looks his age, a little harder to accept. As a whole, though, the art is gorgeous and expressive.
Inu X Boku SS is one of those manga that I just can’t stop revisiting over and over. The comedy, characters, story, and art make it a lovely manga that will make you laugh, smile, and occasionally “d’awwwww” to no one in particular. It isn’t the greatest manga I have ever read, but I love it all the same. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone, since the comedy can get a bit sexual at times due to a couple of the characters being, well, perverted, and Soushi may rub people the wrong way, though I liked him.