Thursday, April 29, 2021

REVIEW: Toilet-bound Hanako-kun (manga, vol. 1) by AidaIro, translated by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun is a supernatural comedy (at least in this first volume, and according to my googling). It's licensed by Yen Press. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.


The students at Komome Academy have many rumors about the school's supposed "Seven Mysteries," the seventh of which is Hanako-san of the toilet. It's said that Hanako-san haunts a particular toilet in one of the girls' bathrooms, and if you summon her and give up something precious, she'll grant you one wish.

Nene Yashiro wants Hanako-san to grant her wish to have her crush fall immediately in love with her. She's shocked when she learns that Hanako-san not only truly exists but is actually a boy, Hanako-kun. She adjusts quickly, though, and finds herself getting tired of what she views as Hanako's overly slow and not terribly effective efforts to help her. When she tries to get a bit more magical help from Hanako, however, she ends up biting off more than she can chew and is forced to become Hanako's assistant. Together, they investigate multiple supernatural mysteries, including thieving "faeries" and stairs that act as a doorway into a dangerous other world.

I haven't seen the anime based on this series, although I plan to. So far the manga seems decent, but I feel like I haven't read enough to be able to judge it very well. Its tone is a little tough to nail down. There are comedic elements, like Yashiro's "anyone good-looking will do, even though I keep saying I'm actually in love with these people" attitude towards getting a boyfriend, the whole toilet thing, and Kou Minamoto's overconfidence in his own exorcism skills. However, there are also signs that this could get dark: the bloody nature of several of the supernatural rumors, and Hanako hinting that he's a murderer. Also, I found Hanako's eyes and facial expressions to be a little unsettling for some reason. His frequent lightheartedness seemed overdone, possibly forced. (But maybe I'm reading too much into it?)

Hanako is potentially a very interesting character. Yashiro's obsession with cute boys and romance may quickly become tiresome, but I did get a kick out of her reaction to her daily life as Hanako's assistant (spending nearly every free moment cleaning toilets at the school). My main impression of Minamoto was that he was shouty.

I like the way supernatural stuff in this series works. The rumors humans tell each other about supernatural beings are always true, whether the supernatural beings involved want them to be or not. So if humans whisper to each other that a particular ghost will kill you if you look at them, that's what has to happen, even if the ghost in question would normally be nonviolent. I enjoyed poor Yashiro's horror when her best friend (who was completely unaware of Yashiro's new connection to the supernatural) gleefully told her gruesome new rumors.

I'm not 100% sold on this series yet, but I'm interested in reading more of it.


One full-color illustration, an extra comic on the inside front cover, a drawing on the inside back cover, a 2-page bonus manga about the main characters' ideal figures, and a page of translator's notes.

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