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Play It Cool, Guys Manga Volume 1 Review

Play It Cool, Guys Manga Volume 1 Review

-Written by: Chris T.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you read something, and it just hews a little too close to your own life experience? I had that happen after reading the first volume of Kokone Nata’s Play It Cool, Guys.

Hayate goes shopping for snacks at a convenience store (Play It Cool, Guys Volume 1, pg. 20).

About a week ago, my girlfriend and I spent a nice Saturday afternoon running errands. We grabbed lunch outdoors, did some shopping, and dropped off some dry cleaning. All in all, it was a nice, productive day. We decided to cap it off by stopping at an ice cream shop, when I panicked. My debit card had gone missing. I had used it to buy lunch, but I have a bad habit of not putting it back in my wallet after use, then slipping it back in when I get home and leave my wallet on the kitchen table. For about the next half hour, we retraced our steps, returning to stops we had made, searching the ground near where we parked, but coming up fruitless. My girlfriend asked, “You’re sure it’s not in your wallet, right?” I had scoured every slot in my wallet and found nothing earlier, but I went back in to double check. And of course, that’s when I found my card in the not-so-obvious slot I never use on the front of the wallet. I didn’t remember doing so, but I apparently stowed the card there after lunch, then didn’t even bother to check the slot. I had to laugh at my momentary stupidity, and she reveled in dragging me the rest of the day for my aloofness.

Mistakes like mine are totally commonplace for the leads of Play It Cool, Guys, as this is a book all about everyday errors. The book opens in an anthology style, with each chapter revolving around one of the book’s leads. The four young men of varying ages all live different walks of life, but are united by one thing: they’re constantly derailed by making small, everyday slip-ups. Each guy handles their foibles differently. College student Hayate rolls with the punches, high schooler Shun sells his mistakes as intentional and bold, office worker Takayuki acts like nothing happened, and aspiring graphic designer Souma cracks up at himself, like I did after my debit card fiasco.

Hayate (top left) and Takayuki (top right) muse about small animal cafes (Play It Cool, Guys Volume 1, pg. 102).

Each chapter is light and breezy, establishing the characters’ personalities by placing them in everyday situations, before eventually weaving together small threads from each story into a loose plot that brings the four guys together for future volumes. Through their mistakes, you learn how they handle their problems, both externally and internally. The book is warm and fun, a classic slice-of-life story that doesn’t deal in drama, instead giving you a good time by watching handsome guys bumble about.

Much of the warmth of the book is brought by Nata’s art. Each of the guys has a cool, comfortable look, with each having a style all their own. While it has classic shojo leanings, Nata’s artistic touches ensure you don’t get any of the characters mixed up. This is also helped by something you don’t see in manga often, a full-color presentation. The book’s settings are lightly detailed, but highlighted with warm, pastel colors throughout, making the characters pop with darker and bolder colors. It gives the guys and the people they interact with extra life, adding a nice energy to their story.

Play It Cool, Guys is a light, buoyant read sure to pick you up on a bad day, radiating warmth through both the playful goofs and the soothing art. There’s no major dilemma driving the story, but you’re probably not here for deep drama anyway. You’re here to watch guys screw up and see how they handle it. You will easily relate with the characters and their everyday errors, especially if you’re like me and make the same kind of errors day in and day out. In the end, you won’t be thinking you made a mistake by checking this book out.

Play It Cool, Guys Manga Volume 1

Play It Cool, Guys Manga Volume 1 features story and art by Kokone Nata.

Enter: a bunch of cool guys who look like they got that unapproachable swag. But let's be real - that's not the true them. They're just a bunch of dorks who've got the act down pat. So sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy watching a bunch of goofy guys try to look cool all day every day.

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