Manga Review: Invisible Boy (vol 1)

"If there's no place for Nagi at home... it must be doubly painful to feel that he's unaccepted elsewhere as well.  And yet, he can't bring himself to open his heart to others, either.  If only he'd hurry and realize that he can - and deserves to be - loved..." - Yuushi

"Invisible Boy" revolves around the the members of the student council at Ouka Academy, a group of impossibly good looking and talented boys who have the distinct responsibility of basically running their prestigious school.  Although the manga touches on all the boys in the student council, it mainly focuses on the president, Yuushi Kitou and the secretary, Nagi Tokieda.  Yuushi is one of those typical nice guy characters who always tries to do right by others at all times, and he is very concerned when he hears about his friend Nagi's troubled home life.  Nagi, it turns out, has pretty much been abandoned by his parents.  His mother left him when he was a child, and his father is gone for weeks at a time and has absolutely no time for his son.  Nagi's disappointment in his father has slowly turned to self loathing over the years, and even though he's always alone at home, he never involves himself with his classmates and friends out of fear that he isn't good enough to be friends with them.  Needless to say, Yuushi does not accept this, and goes to extreme lengths to prove to Nagi that his impression of himself is wrong.  The last part of the book focuses on a few of the boys in the student council on their day off on the town.

I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought that I was going to.  I was expecting a little more romance, because there was pretty much none at all, but it was still a very enjoyable read.  When I was reading the book, I couldn't help but draw comparisons between this and Gakuen Heaven, another manga that focuses on a group of boys in an all boys school.  However, where I felt Gakuen Heaven failed, I think this manga succeeded.  Both books had a large cast of characters, a meek character who didn't feel worthy of being there, the leader of the school having a crush on that character, an athletic competition (sort of), and all the students were attending a top ranking school where all the characters are incredibly perfect.  Many of those reasons were why I didn't enjoy Gakuen Heaven, so I find it interesting that I liked this book.  I guess it just took the subject matter being handled in a different way for me to appreciate it.  And I absolutely love Hotaru Odagiri's gorgeous art, even if Yuushi and Nagi could pass for Yuichi and Wataru's (from Only the Ring Finger Knows) twins!  One thing that did bother me was how a few of the characters were very difficult to tell apart, and how since there were so many characters, a few were left very underdeveloped.  I think that having a second volume will help in this area, though, because we'll get to see a little bit more of them to find out what they are about.  I really liked the friendship between all the guys, and how they all banded together to help out one of their friends when he was going through a rough time.

I am not a huge fan of high school tales or student council stories, but I am very glad that I picked this book up anyway.  Although, it's not like the boys were ever shown doing any schoolwork, and I doubt that there is a school that has a student council that has so much power over the school, but it doesn't really matter, because I can enjoy it for the very sweet story that it is.  Although I'm hoping for a little more romance in the next volume and a little less of hearing everyone talk about how perfect and wonderful Yuushi is!  I think we got it after the first ten times...

- Liz