- Mangaka : Natsumi, Chorisuke
- Publisher : Seven Seas
- Genre : Comedy, Slice-of-life, romance, shounen
- Published : Oct 2021 - present
When talking about "shounen", most people often associate it with the action and adventure genres. But one of the most popular genres in shounen that always garnered lots of attention is actually "romantic comedy".
From "Nisekoi'' to "Horimiya", there have been multiple shounen romcom manga that achieved a high level of mainstream success. And a new title that strives to follow in the footsteps of those massive titles is "Hitomi-Chan is Shy With Strangers." Here’s our review of the first volume!
Hitomi Takano is a high school freshman. She is tall, has a larger build than the other girls in her class, and she is also exceptional in sports. She stands out in all sorts of ways among other people around her. But that is not what worries her every day.
You see, despite her outgoing appearance, Hitomi Takano is actually a very shy girl. And whenever she's nervous, her smile looks like the grin of an angry demon lord. This manga is all about Hitomi Takano's bashful school life and how she learns to open up to other people, find some friends, and experience a wholesome high school romance.
1. Relatable Characters
Everybody has been at that position where what you said or did ends up being misunderstood by the people around you. And that feeling of awkwardness and losing your composure when talking to a stranger may not be a trait shared by many people, but for most introverts, that is an everyday occurrence.
That is precisely what makes the characters of this manga so relatable. The experiences of the main character and the people around her can be easily understood by the readers. This relatability is what makes it so easy to feel an emotional connection to the characters.
The perfect example of this happens right at the beginning of the manga. Hitomi notices Usami Yuu wearing the same uniform as her. Since this is her first day in a new school, she wants to ask him to be her guide, but Usami suddenly runs away. Confused, Hitomi decides to dash after him.
But from Usami’s perspective, what he sees is a tall girl who’s been glaring at him for a while. And when he decides to stay away from her, she runs after him instead. He genuinely fears for his life. A simple misunderstanding that could’ve happened to anybody.
2. Tasteful Use of Ecchiness
The main character is a high school girl with a relatively big bosom. And in the world of manga, especially shounen manga, that is the one attribute that will be the source of various lewd situations. Fan service involving big-chested girls is nothing new in shounen.
But that is not the case here. Sure, there are scenes that are meant to emphasize the ecchi element of the story, but all of them are rather tastefully done. There are no sudden boob flashes or lewd physics going on here. Everything is done in a reserved manner and yet it still has that alluring feel to it.
One of the most stand-out moments of this is when Hitomi and her classmates are changing clothes for PE class. Amazed with her figure, one of Hitomi’s classmates asks if she could touch her body. But rather than going for the chest area like most shounen manga, Hitomi’s classmate ends up touching her stomach and admiring how toned her abs are.
There are tons of ways this scene could’ve turned into a very lewd moment. But instead, Natsumi-sensei managed to present a comedic situation while still providing subtle and tasteful elements of ecchiness at the same time.
1. Formulaic and Repetitive
Following the daily life of Hitomi Takano and how everybody initially misunderstands her only to realize her good points later on is all fine and quite funny to see. But a whole volume full of nothing but that? It can get boring sooner than you might think.
In the first chapter, we see Usami misunderstand Hitomi’s attention and it gets resolved in the end. In the subsequent chapters, we see her classmates, her teacher, and even some neighboring kids misunderstand her and then everything is resolved at the end as well.
The author has found a simple storyline that manages to emphasize the comedy, the romance, and wholesome feelings and keeps on using that strategy in every chapter… which is why the story ends up being so formulaic and repetitive.
Hitomi-chan is Shy With Strangers is a new addition to a long list of romantic comedies in shounen manga, and it has lots of great things going for it. The characters are highly relatable, there are no over-the-top ecchi moments, and the art in every panel is always beautifully drawn.
But since the story follows the same trajectory in every chapter, there's little to no plot progression in this first volume. And, frankly speaking, things get quite boring about halfway through.
But that is to be expected of a new series. Romcom manga rarely blow your mind with their first volume. You need to read more volumes to decide whether you should follow this series or not.
Or maybe you have read "Hitomi-chan is Shy With Strangers" and already made up your mind about it? Please share what you think about it in the comment section below.