Author and illustrator Yamasaki Haruta is known in Japan for their popular LINE messaging app stamp series such as the classic “Glasses Boys” and the unforgettable “Heartthrob Black-haired Glasses Boys.” At long last, they decided to take their illustrative skills and produce a manga series aptly titled My Boss Is Good Looking. From the cover alone, it was immediately clear to me that this series would quickly deliver on its premise. But was it going to be more than a pretty face? I am pleased to report that the answer is a resounding yes.
In fact, there are quite a few pretty faces in this manga. The story begins with a recently-hired employee at a design firm named Aoyama. Her boss Hayami is quite a good-looking fellow, a fact that does not escape the other women (and men) in the office. Although he’s rather friendly and intelligent, Hayami is also extremely absent minded. Aoyama, by contrast, is much more put together and tends to babysit her boss when he accidentally breaks his own glasses or gets off at the wrong train stop. It initially seems that this dynamic duo will be the center of the story, but the next chapter shifts to Aoyama and Hayami’s coworker, the bookish and handsome designer Anzai, and his interactions with his cute next door neighbor Sasaki. The third chapter shifts once again to another department at the same company, where the lovestruck college intern Hosaka attempts to romance her attractive and quick-witted boss Kanzaki.
The quality of Yamasaki’s illustrations means that the bosses in My Boss Is Good Looking are, in fact, quite good looking. The character designs for all of our office lovebirds are fantastic. My Boss Is Good Looking is an office romantic comedy full of pretty people, which is always a good initial draw. It’s no wonder Hosaka wants to date Kanzaki; after all, he has a jawline that was probably sculpted by Adonis himself.
But it’s not all about the exterior appearance, and it’s not only the character designs that make My Boss Is Good Looking a memorable read. Much like 2017’s much-lauded anime Tsuredure Children, My Boss Is Good Looking switches back and forth between multiple pairs of potential couples, and the stories of each of the three pairs introduced in this volume were satisfactorily humorous and heartwarming.
This is because My Boss Is Good Looking doesn’t hesitate to move beyond the obvious, such as my and Aoyama’s initial observation that Hayami is a good-looking man, and instead defines the characters by their actions, and in doing so conveys their feelings subtextually. Despite Hayami’s absent-mindedness with some of the minutiae of daily life (such as making sure his tie isn’t crooked), he is a beloved boss because of his genuine kindness and concern for his coworkers’ well-being. Aoyama sometimes has to clean up after Hayami when he spills his coffee all over himself, but she also knows she can trust him when it matters. My Boss Is Good Looking revels in outward beauty, but it also offers a critique at the limiting nature of obsessing over good looks. Aoyama notes in the very first page that Hayami seems to keep looking over at her, and on the next page Hayami notes the very same thing about Aoyama. However, as the volume progresses it becomes clear that they aren’t just checking each other out; Hayami feels that he can trust Aoyama to help him out with difficult situations at work, and Aoyama knows that Hayami pays close attention to her emotional concerns. To just focus on their external appearances would lead one to miss the depth of their actual feelings for each other. Their various playful and serious interactions make for good chemistry, and it wasn’t long before I was cheering for them as a couple.
Aoyama and Hayami may not immediately have overtly romantic feelings for each other, but some of the other characters introduced in later chapters do. Anzai and Sasaki are both blatantly head over heels for each other, but they are also a bit nervous about potentially overstepping their bounds. Both of them wonder: am I just being obnoxious? Do they actually like me? This dynamic is relatable, to say the least, but it’s also made even better by the swapping of perspectives every couple of pages between Anzai and Sasaki. My Boss Is Good Looking frequently transitions back and forth in perspective for each of its couples, and the dynamic viewpoint accentuates the dramatic irony to really give readers that feeling of “Just ask them out already!” that every good romantic comedy generates.
Fortunately, we aren’t left waiting for too long. Even in the short 140-odd pages of the first volume, the relationships in My Boss Is Good Looking are anything but static. There is romantic progression, but there is also development that goes beyond just romantic plot. Aoyama’s relationship with Hayami is further fleshed out in later chapters by flashbacks to her first day at work and the introduction of details that provide further context to character reactions earlier in the volume. It also provides context to some of the humor. When Hayami gives Aoyama coffee as an award for a hard day’s work in the first chapter, I laughed when Aoyama admitted she can’t drink coffee and pawned it off to Anzai. But later, it becomes apparent that that scene was not the first time Hayami had tried to give Aoyama coffee, making beverage preferences another thing that Hayami is exceedingly forgetful about. The subtle development of these running gags in parallel with the developing relationships of the cast is another one of the many ways that My Boss Is Good Looking goes beyond initial appearances to offer something more.
I must admit that it is refreshing to read another office comedy about actual adults. My Boss Is Good Looking is, much like another genre stalwart Wotakoi, a romantic comedy about working adults with numerous humorous gags, but it is also very real and relatable in ways that high school romantic comedies sometimes don’t accomplish. The characters are attractive, and mangaka Yamasaki doesn’t hesitate to point this out, but it’s also a surprisingly down-to-earth story of love between working adults. My Boss Is Good Looking delivers exactly what it promises and much more, and for that I highly recommend it. You may come for the heartthrob black-haired glasses boy on the cover, but in the end you’ll stay for the character behind those glasses.
Thanks to NomadicDec for proofreading!
English: My Boss Is Good Looking
Author: Yamasaki Haruta
JPN Release: July 25, 2019
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