It's always a shame when a promising premise in a manga is derailed by its own creator. Today's review is just one of many examples of that in BL.
HEY, CLASS PRESIDENT! (Seito Kaicho ni Chukoku), by Kaori Monchi. First published in 2005 and first published in North America in 2009.
Chiga can not believe it. His spacey teammate Kokusai got elected as class president and Chiga was made vice president! What this means for Chiga is that he spends his days running interference between Kokusai and everyone who tries to molest him, be it fellow students, teachers, and even random strangers on the train. Kokusai even manages to get molested in his own home while sleeping! As Chiga tries his hardest to keep Kokusai on track, he finds himself being drawn to Kokusai romantically and having to resist his own urges.
I was so disappointed with this series. The first couple of chapters suggested that this was going to be a comedic sort of manga, one where Chiga has to constantly guide Kokusai through a daily gauntlet of perverts. Handled well, that could actually be pretty fun in an outrageous sort of way. Instead it quickly devolves into a middling mess of conflicted feelings and lack of communication.
Maybe I was just projecting because it's not often that we get genuinely funny BL. Most books tend to be so serious and overly dramatic that I find myself wanting a bit of levity once in a while. It's not like this series didn't have a good starting point. Monchi makes it clear early on that Kokusai is perfectly average in every way. He's not extraordinarily handsome, bright, or talented, but has some unknown quality that lures men to him in droves, regardless of their orientation. Worse still, Kokusai is completely oblivious to their intentions. He just presumes that every guy who tries to get their hands on him is simply really friendly. I can't be the only one who looks at a character like that and sees comic gold. Like the song goes, though, they had to go and spoil it all by making the protagonist say something stupid like "I love you."
After those first few chapters, Chiga ends up falling hard for Kokusai because he's so helpless and naïve. That's right: Chiga falls for him because he's just too damn moe. The rest of the volume is thus spent watching these two dance around their feelings, as Kokusai starts to fall for Chiga himself. The only other thing that happens is the half-baked mystery around who molested Kokusai in his own home. Then the story completely forgets that drama shortly after it happens so we can enter a neverending circlejerk of jealousy. Even after Chiga and Kokusai finally talk to one another about their feelings, Kokusai starts getting jealous of Chiga's ex-girlfriends, his classmates are jealous of all the attention that Chiga lavishes on Kokusai, and Chiga is jealous and overprotective of Kokusai because that's pretty much what he's been doing since the beginning. Worse still, there are no quirks or foibles to counteract all this jealousy, and the student council angle is dropped so quickly that one wonders why Monchi bothered in the first place. In that case, you have to wonder why she bothered with the comedy if all she was going to do was a bunch of tedious jealousy-fueled drama like everyone else.
Monchi's art is also all too typical of BL as a whole. Her character designs are weirdly lanky and long, which means just about everyone has giraffe necks and spidery hands. Chiga in particular is so lanky that he's constantly slouching just so his back and arms can stay in frame. The only thing that does work about the character designs is Chiga's rather stylish haircut (complete with long bangs and the occasional headband) and the thick, tasteful frames on his glasses. At least he's fairly distinct, which is more than can be said for the rest of the cast. Otherwise the art is very mediocre - nothing notably wretched, but nothing remarkable either This is true whether the pages are about jealousy drama or actual sex. The sexual bits aren't sexy by any means, neither are they a disaster of limbs and invisi-peen. By the low standards of BL, it's pretty average looking.
Hey, Class President! starts strong but slides down fast thanks to pointless drama and rather middling artwork. Thus it goes from OK to completely forgettable, just like the majority of other books under DMP's label.
This series is published by Digital Manga Publishing. This series is ongoing in Japan with 7 volumes available. 5 volumes have been published and all are currently in print. The first volume is also available as a e-book through emanga.com.