Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 1

By Cocoa Fujiwara. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Gangan Joker. Released in North America by Yen Press.

I hear there are spoilers for later volumes. Please don’t discuss them in comments.

A lot of times when there is a series that piles up a lot of cliches – be they plot, character, action sequences, or all three – you have to pick your tolerance level. I’m I’m going to be reading this, what’s the big draw that pulls me in and allows me to tolerate some otherwise generic stuff, even if it is well-written? In general, for me if a heroine is grumpy and sarcastic, I’m willing to forgive it a lot. And dropping such a heroine into a world of butler bodyguards is the basic premise of Inu x Boku SS, which also manages to be a yokai manga to boot.


I have to say it – I kept thinking that the heroine was Rika from Higurashi. It doesn’t help that this began in Gangan Joker around the same time the final Higurashi arc was going. Rika was never quite as cutting and vicious as this, though. Ririchiyo simply can’t stop herself from saying what she thinks, and what she thinks is usually acidic and nasty. This has led her to have few friends. (Perhaps she should join a club… wait, wrong manga.) She moves to a high-rise complex, but finds that it comes with a loyal servant and bodyguard who will do anything for her. He’s nice and sweet to her, slowly coaxing her out of her shell of disinterest and loneliness, but he also has a dark secret which is hinted at towards the end of Volume 1.

See what I mean? The description of that bodyguard could fit any one of 2,000 shoujo manga. (This is shonen, but Square Enix has never quite been as caring about genre as the other companies, and I’d argue the pretty butler is as much a draw for female readers as Ririchiyo’s show of thigh is for the males.) We also get a goofy older brother guy, a perverse lesbian (well, faux-lesbian – because she’s perverse, nothing really ever happens. But one assumes…), and a quiet, shy girl. Also, one of the bodyguards is Walker from Durarara!! with bunny ears. (DRRR is also a Square Enix title… sometimes it’s really easy to notice the incestuous nature of the business as you read things.)

That said, this is quite competently drawn and written. You care about Ririchiyo, and want to both have her improve her social skills while not losing the biting retorts that make her interesting. The manga doesn’t take itself too seriously (at one point two of the male bodyguards flirt, and the yuri girl goes “eeew, disgusting”, a lovely hypocritical moment called out immediately), though there is also a hint that there is much darker stuff still to come. It’s just… there’s a lot of stuff here you’ve seen before in many other titles. If you enjoyed those types of works, Inu x Boku SS is definitely the manga for you. If not, I think it depends on how much you like Ririchiyo. I quite liked her, so will see what another volume brings.

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