Author: Ozaki Akira
Genre: Shoujo, Comedy, Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, School Life
Atashi no Banbi is a four-chapter series that centres around the peculiar relationship between first-ranked student Haruko Nanase and hoodlum Hachiya. After he tries to extort money from her after she witnesses him fighting on a train, she runs away. Unfortunately, her peaceful world is put in jeopardy when she learns that he is in the same class. This begins a comedic coming-of-age tale about a nerd and her future boyfriend.
To begin with, this series shares a lot of similarities with the shoujo series My Little Monster in regards to the archetypes of the leads and to some small degree the setup. However, that is where the similarities end. As much as I adore MLM, Atashi no Banbi places higher because of how much more relatable the male and female leads of this series are portrayed. They aren’t unnecessarily “broken” and this is where Atashi no Banbi manages to surpass many in the Shoujo rom-com genre. It also manages to do so without a single kiss or “love” scene. Weird, huh?
Hachiya and Haruko are so adorable together but their growing fondness for each other isn’t dragged on beyond what it takes for them to acknowledge and express their mutual feelings for each other. There is the right amount of embarrassment and anxiety especially from Haruko as she comes to realise her feelings for Hachiya. These two characters are really fun to watch because of how well nuance is balanced with the in-your-face silliness of school life. It is easy to root for this pairing because of the way that the self-professed “idiots” complement each other.
Whilst this series uses the backdrop of study sessions to develop Haruko and Hachiya’s relationship, it provides the right amount of shenanigans to make for some entertaining scenes. They are also joined in their efforts by Misawa Akira, a girl from another class who is hoping to win the heart of her long-time crush by getting good grades. We see major character development for Misawa on account of having two friends who support her. Whilst she still remains a flawed character, seeing her view of herself change is compelling to watch. Sometimes, a simple word of encouragement can turn your life around.
It is through these relationships that Horuko realises that she really does need human connections and changes her priorities in order to be happier in her own skin. Whilst Hachiya has his own degree of character growth, it is nowhere near as subtle as that of Haruko. This is okay because people have different issues to contend with. In any case, this makes for a compelling read that I can foresee reading again in the not-so-distant future.
In conclusion, I really liked this short series. I felt that it said what it needed to say and also delivered on the promise made in the first chapter to change the dynamic between two relative strangers that happened to be on a train at the same time. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a coming-of-age rom-com that doesn’t rely on sex or fan service to tell a compelling story. It is sure to entertain those looking for a short but impactful series as well. So, if this sounds like a story that would interest you, then be sure to check it out.