Adjusting to a new school is already hard enough without having to deal with the hijinks of a pack of beast boys...
Komugi Kusunoki moved to Hokkaido to live with her father after some traumatic experiences soured her on her old school, and she’s content to simply go about her high school days without much attention. This doesn’t go so well for her after class heartthrob Yu Ogami tells her that she smells good, but the biggest shock of all comes when she finds out that he’s really a wolf! It turns out that Yu isn’t the only one who something to hide, and now Komugi finds herself having to contend with a pack of beast-boys to make sure she doesn’t reveal their secret.
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In what is sure to be a commonly-made comparison, yes, That Wolf Boy is Mine! is similar to immensely popular shojo manga Fruits Basket in its premise being a girl falling in with a cast of transforming pretty-boys. That said, That Wolf Boy is Mine! is more understated in its take on this premise, and this leads to the series getting off to a slower start in creating a compelling situation out of it all. The first two chapters proceed in efficiently if predictably in introducing all of the requisite story elements you would expect here: Komugi attends her new school, meets pretty-boy Yu Ogami, and learns about the boys’ secret. While the introduction felt unremarkable because of how predictable it all was, the first couple chapters still had a number of moments that made for a funny and enjoyable read such as Yu playfully sniffing Komugi straight out of the blue in class. There isn’t anything too new here to see, but it’s still a fairly enjoyable beginning to the series.
The predictability of the first couple chapters was a little more difficult to swallow because the characters themselves weren’t the most compelling early on. The cast of beast-boys tick off the usual character tropes, and although some of them had stronger personalities, I didn’t feel like they really add a whole lot to the plot in this volume as a whole. By contrast, although Komugi and Yu’s respective personalities are a little on the blander side early on, but I found Komugi’s quietness and Yu’s confidence complemented each other quite well in terms of introducing some romantic chemistry to the story. I also enjoyed the way that Yu and Komugi’s relationship was introduced and quickly built up in a heartwarmingly understated way as she confides a little in him, and I was pleased that their interactions felt natural. The volume was much stronger when it focused on Komugi and Yu compared to her interactions with the rest of the beast-boys, and I hope that this continues to be as strong of a focus as it became in the stronger second half of this volume.
Although That Wolf Boy is Mine! gets off to a bit of a slow start in setting up its premise, I became more and more impressed as the series began to hit its stride in the final third of this book. I really liked that we got a tangible sense of Komugi’s development through her interactions with Yu, and I was pleased that we could see how she was able to overcome some of her inner issues because of her experiences in learning about Yu and the boys. This was illustrated very nicely in a strong final chapter that saw her relationship with the boys progress in a satisfying moment of inner strength for her, and this succeeded in getting me more interested seeing her grow with them in the future. This also presented some interesting romantic questions as Komugi and Yu begin to show signs of being attracted to each other, and I really enjoyed that this segment managed present this attraction in a sweetly understated manner. The volume ends off with an interesting cliffhanger that definitely made me eager to see how Komugi and Yu’s relationship might proceed, and I really have to say that the way the romantic aspects were slowly built up over the second half of the book was very satisfying to see.
Much like the overall plot of this volume, That Wolf Boy is Mine!’s art is unremarkable at first glance but picks up strength as things proceed. The art is generally well-presented and cleanly drawn, but it veers a little bit more on the bland side in the early going. The character designs aren’t anything to really marvel at, and the beast-boys in particular look fairly similar to the types of designs seen in many other similar series. That said, the panels are quite well-composed on the whole in utilizing a wide variety of layouts to cleanly present the art, and this was most notable when art begins to take on a little more character as the volume progresses in a few of the more showier romantic moments. I liked that these moments were presented with dramatic closeups but with a lighter contrast which gave a slightly ethereal feel to the proceedings that that felt entirely appropriate in complementing the underlying supernatural aspects of the series.
That Wolf Boy is Mine! is a tantalizingly understated slice-of-life romance with an interesting supernatural twist, and this series walks a comfortable middle ground between these in elements in a way that will have wide appeal to romance fans. Although the first couple chapters were a little bit on the slow side in terms of establishing the characters, the final two chapters are much more interesting because of the character development shown on Komugi’s part, as well as the romantic plot picking up in an engaging way. This volume definitely gets better as it goes along, and I’m definitely excited to see where it’ll go from here as the series picks up speed.
That Wolf Boy is Mine! Vol. 1 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on August 16th, 2016. Authored by Yoko Nagiri, the series ran for 4 volumes in Kodansha’s Aria magazine. Volume 2 will be published in English on October 18th, 2016.
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