The Quintessential Quintuplets, Vol. 1

By Negi Haruba. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Steven LeCroy.

Deserved or not, it has to be said that sometimes Kodansha in Japan has a certain reputation for making series that are very similar to series published by other publishers. The most obvious example is Fairy Tail, which is “Kodansha’s One Piece”, but there are a few others. So when Shueisha started releasing a series in Weekly Shonen Jump about a poor high school student who is blackmailed into tutoring a bunch of eccentric, mistrusting but gorgeous young women (We Never Learn), I raised an eyebrow when I saw that Shonen Magazine, precisely six months later, has debuted this title, in which a poor high school student who is blackmailed into tutoring a bunch of eccentric, mistrusting but gorgeous young women. (It’s also not hard to think of Araragi from the Monogatari series when looking at Futaro, and I think the author was on the short list of manga artists considered for that adaptation.) That said, unoriginal does not equal bad, and I found the first volume of this series enjoyable enough, though these girls are VERY mistrusting.

Futaro is our hero, a somewhat misanthropic young man who gets excellent grades but has a “loner” personality. His family is in debt, which may explain why he’s so gloomy, though his bubbly younger sister seems fine with it. He’s told that he can get his family out of debt by tutoring some girls, all of whom with grade issues, from his school. Imagine his surprise when he finds that one of them is the new transfer student he met the previous day. In fact, all these girls seem familiar… that’s right, they’re quintuplets, all in the same school, having left their previous school for low grades. And they are all pretty low. How he has to figure out a way to teach them so they retain it, while also dealing with the fact that they’re either unmotivated, airheaded, stubborn, or just plain malicious. Is there any way he can do this?

Well, we know the answer to that one right away – the manga debuts with a flashforward to the wedding of Futaro and…. one of the quintuplets. They look very alike, and sometimes try to “switch” to another sibling to fool Futaro, so there’s no guarantee that it’s Itsuki he’s marrying simply because she’s the first one that he meets. (That said, this is a shonen romantic comedy, where “first girl wins” holds quite a lot of weight.) Actually, the bulk of the character development in this first book goes to Miku, the middle sister, who’s the “quiet one” of the siblings and also has an obsession with the Warring States period. This allows Futaro to figure out a way to tutor her, and they bond a bit. Others may prove harder. Futaro getting literally drugged into unconsciousness by Nino, the angriest of the five sisters, was going a bit too far for me.

If you like reading shonen romantic comedies and arguing about who is “best girl”, well, we have five siblings who look a lot alike but have differing personalities, so you should have a lot of fun here. That said, this seems like the sort of series that gets better in future volumes. This was an okay start, but only okay. It has several more volumes out digitally, though, and is getting an anime soon.

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