Book Review: Hitorijime My Hero

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Boys Love and Teacher/Student Romance

Hitorijime My Hero tells the story of Setagawa, a runner for a small time gang. He doesn’t have a strong family life and the gang he runs with basically uses him for his cooking skills and ability to do things for them as a gopher. He’s burning the candle at both ends when he meets Ooshiba, a high school teacher who is also known as “The Bear Killer” for his intense fighting style. Ooshiba takes Setagawa in as he’s already friends with Ooshiba’s little brother, and he tries to get him away from a life of crime. Setagawa starts coming over more often and cooking for the family as Ooshiba promises to take him in as his underling and keep him safe.

Somehow they have crushes on one another. I’m not really sure how it happens. The characters are pretty underdeveloped so when the big reveal of their crushes happens, I felt like it’s a bit out of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, their relationship was cute, but I just felt like there wasn’t a ton of interaction or moments between the two in order to solidify having a crush of some kind.

I had a real struggle being able to tell the difference between the characters in this manga, aside from our main couple. Setagawa and Ooshiba were obvious, but it took me until the near end to realize one of the other kids Setagawa was friends with happened to be Ooshiba’s brother. Maybe it was said earlier in the volume and I missed it but it threw me for a loop for a bit.

There is a significant age difference between our two main characters and honestly, I didn’t pick up on it at first. I knew Setagawa was a student and Ooshiba was a teacher, but until there was a scene of them in the same school I assumed Setagawa was older than just another high school student. I also assumed (wrongly) that Ooshiba was a young teacher, one perhaps just out of school, but in looking up the show/manga a bit it seems like their age gap is much more significant, like 12-15 years. I didn’t process that while reading, so it didn’t influence how I thought of the book much, but now I feel much more torn about it.

I found out that this is a manga adaptation of an already popular anime, so I’m assuming the crossover just didn’t translate as well to paper as it does as a show. I also believe that the manga and show itself is a spin off of another series which follows Ooshiba’s younger brother Kensuke and his relationship with his friend/boyfriend Asaya Hasekura, who appear in this series. The translation may also contribute to why I found this so hard to follow in English and perhaps made things just a bit more clunky to read. The general romance was cute and I really enjoyed Setagawa as a character, it’s just a little underdeveloped overall.

In terms of “Boys Love” manga’s this one was one recommended we order for my library. It does not include any graphic sexual content that some of the other BL manga’s I have read contain. This one has some kissing and illusions to having sex, but the art does not reflect any sex between the characters.

Title: Hitorijime My Hero
Author: Memeko Arii
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781632367716

Three descriptions: LGBT+, Forbidden Love, Teacher/Student.

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