Originally a light novel series, Higehiro has had a rise in popularity this year largely thanks to an anime adaptation which streamed on Crunchyroll. Now we have a manga take brought to us from One Peace Books. Yoshida is just your average salaryman, drowning his tears in booze. On his way home one night, he finds a runaway high school girl sitting on the street. She offers to sleep with him in exchange for a place to stay – but he more honourably offers her work instead.
Whilst the premise might initially cause alarm bells to ring for some readers, this manga is surprisingly wholesome. There is subject matter that could easily become unsavoury, but Shimesaba has instead steered it in a more fun direction. It helps that the dynamic between the two lead characters is very strong and doesn’t veer into romance.
Both are somewhat damaged individuals that have something the other is lacking. Yoshida is a cynical man whose salaryman job brings him no joy, and now has to deal with the fact he has just been rejected by a female colleague he was crushing on who happens to be his boss. Teenage runaway Sayu – whilst having a brighter disposition than Yoshida – is not only clearly holding onto some heavy emotional baggage, but is also highly naïve and doesn’t realist the danger she has been putting herself in by using her body to get shelter. It is when Yoshida takes Sayu in that we see the mutual benefit their living arrangement brings, with Yoshida teaching Sayu how to behave in a more acceptable way and do normal teenage things, whilst she helps bring a less cynical side out of him and change his approach to work and other people. It is obviously far from conventional, but it is a breath of fresh air compared to the direction some other series would go in with these plot points.
There are some strong supporting cast members too, with Yoshida’s aforementioned boss Airi – who has an awkward relationship with him following her rejection of him – and his trainee Yuzuha – who appears to have a soft spot for him. Everyone gets a solid introduction and add some extra dimension to the series. Imaru Adachi proves to have a strong handle of the cast in his adaptation of Shimesaba’s light novels and does wonders transferring boota’s character designs and illustrations to the manga format.
This is a fun manga that takes a potentially troubling subject matter and manages to avoid any negative tropes that could take the story in an unpleasant direction. With some great characters and intriguing plot points, it’s an easy recommendation.
Higehiro Volume 1: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway is out now from One Peace Books (9781642731446, p/b, £11.99)
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