When author, Asumiko Nakamura, was writing Classmates: Dou Kyu Sei she says, “I wanted to go with something cliché, almost hackneyed. The idea was to make it the “f” of fundamentals, the “b” of basics, something naïve, reckless, impatient,” and she succeeded. Wildly. However, I was personally underwhelmed.
Classmates does have all of the fundamentals down for sure. For starters, pretty-boy band member Hikaru finds himself attracted to another boy at his all boy’s school. He’s the outgoing type while the object of his affection, Rihito, is the smart and studious type with glasses and not many friends. Hikaru happens upon Rihito practicing alone for an upcoming choir performance, and once the show comes to an end, the two strike up a friendship which becomes more. This tease sounds like it could be the beginning of any budding romance, but it’s what happens afterwards that dropped me out of the story. Within just this first volume one full year passes, and neither boy has any real character growth. They stay exactly the same. Meanwhile the plot is pedal to the metal at progressing their “relationship,” but nothing ever really happens. I felt like there was so much potential for emotional moments which were instead glazed over. I almost felt like the multiple kissing scenes were there just to please fans, and sometimes even the characters themselves seem to objectively remark about certain aspects of the boys’ love genre – like using manga as a how-to guide. It would all be amusing if the overall story had a stronger backbone.
One thing that did stand out to me was Nakamura’s art style. The boys are all gangly but their body lines are drawn with smooth, simplistic strokes. The backgrounds are actually pretty empty, but you can still easily tell where the boys are and what’s going on around them. There are also plenty of tight close-ups where facial expressions elevate Nakamura’s art. Her art style is reminiscent of some of CLAMP’s work, but with more accurate body proportions.
If you’re not much into requiring a deeper, emotional plot I can see how Classmates is easy to pick up and simply enjoy. It’s not that I disliked it. I just wanted more from it. Perhaps Volume 2 will slow down and give me more of what I want? Suppose I’ll have to wait and see.
Hikaru always thought his classmate Rihito was kind of a snob, until he stumbles across Rihito secretly practicing a song in an empty classroom. Hikaru agrees to become Rihito’s music tutor, and with each lesson the two boys grow closer. But when Hikaru realizes that he’s fallen for Rihito, will they stay classmates or become something more?Add to CartLearn More