My Boyfriend in Orange – When Orange Looks Bland (manga review)

I’m a liar when I said I was done with high school aged shojo. I’ll admit that right now. But this time I didn’t read this for funzies, getting suckered by a pretty cover, or someone’s stellar recommendation. My Boyfriend in Orange is getting a live action movie this July, and guess whose playing the leading man?

No my friends, it is not my beloved Iwata Takanori, but it is in fact Iwamoto Hikaru of Snow Man. Who happens to be my favorite member of said group, and it is his first leading role by himself as a debuted talent. Therefore, you can eagerly anticipate that upcoming review of the film. However, for once I have decided to actually read a bit of the manga being adapted before watching the live action adaptation. I know, you’re all so proud of me for that one!

But I’ll be clear right now – My Boyfriend in Orange (MBIO) is not my thing, and even if it was it’s honestly just not that great of a series. But that’s being a bit harsh, so let’s actually look at the premise.

Strong start – I really do mean that.

Sasaki Moe transferred high school’s due to the untimely death of her father and is not adjusting well. She laments his loss on the rooftop while smoking, she is startled by a fireman approaching her and informing her she should have evacuated the building for the drill! Embarrassed, she is hoisted down to safety, and by happenstance continues to run into him!

Now I’m going to be very honest, aside from the actual first chapter MBIO is boring even for shojo standards. In a mere eight chapters, only the first two volumes; I’ve read enough to get where this story is going to spin out both forms.

A lot of them stems from the fact that Moe has no personality. The troubled, brooding teen who misses her father of the opening scene is discarded by page twenty five. She is replaced with the most common troupes of a pure hearted maiden, without even one of them being exaggerated to some degree to make a makeshift personality. Moe’s only motivation the entire story so far is to ‘get to know Ebihara Kyosuke’, the fireman who hoisted her down to safety.

The extended problem is Ebihara Kyosuke isn’t much to write home about either. He’s a hot older fireman who happens to keep saving Moe in all the whacky hijinks she’s written into. There’s hints that he has more to him. Perhaps there’s a reason he became so embarrassingly tsundere but in eight chapters, that there is in fact a backstory. At this point despite Ebihara’s story despite being the focus, this element isn’t elaborated on nor does it seem to be a priority.

So much promise… but so little return in two volumes.

As for the secondary characters they’re all shojo staples. Sayumi is Moe’s classmate and closest person to a friend she has. Ryu is Moe’s younger brother who serves as an excuse since he’s obsessed with firefighters, for Moe to keep going to firefighter events. Kyosuke’s co-workers are good natured stereotypes of manly men. A classmate is introduced as a potential rival for Moe’s affections but looking at the title… why did the author bother unless it was going to be a different firefighter?

On top of it, while the covers look fine the art isn’t great. More then once the close up’s for characters are disproportional. Heads look swollen (most obvious with Sayumi), on top of necks and other limbs being elongated where the balance is noticeably off. This happens to all characters. Once, maybe twice would be acceptable but this occurs multiple times throughout the first two volumes. The background art is par for the course, texture and tones all are shojo standards. There’s a stray odd angle or two, but nothing so weird that I’m mad about it.

Now to talk the potential icky part, the age gap. I’m actually surprised and almost thankful that MBIO actually takes the time to address this. In chapter six, one of Ebihara’s co-workers remarks how normal Moe looks when she’s with the boy rival her own age. Clearly that was an observation, and a small dig at Ebihara in general, but it does show that the firefighter collective have some awareness about the difference in age and how weird it could be.

Oof… Ebihara looks called out in that panel.

To make sure I wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill, I did my best to piece together how bad the gap is. Neither protagonist’s age is confirmed so I’m assuming Moe to be about seventeen, and Ebihara to be about twenty-five. Ebihara’s age guessimation being based on my brief research about the most common age to become a qualified firefighter in Japan. It’s still off-putting, but at least the mangaka had the decency to make at least a quip about how weird it is.

As I said before, I’ve read enough of My Boyfriend in Orange. I’m sure this story is titillating to it’s preteen/teen demographic, it got green lit for a live action after all, but it’s not for me. My Boyfriend in Orange is as entertaining as an electric candle, and that’s fine. Not the greatest outlook for the live action either. At least I know I’ll get some great fan service curtesy of Iwamoto Hikaru.

2 comments

  1. Oh wow, that’s kind of disappointing. With a title like My Boyfriend in Orange, I thought it would be a little more interesting. I was really expecting it to be a pun, like the boyfriend was an orange farmer or something. Congrats on getting to see a celebrity that you like in his first film, I hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, firefighters have so much potential but this was a bummer. And thank you! I’m excited to see him in it, but… I’ll be tempering my expectations with it too lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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