Mizuno Minami is a fairly new shoujo mangaka and the impression I got from reading two of her three previously published works is that the art is delicate and beautiful and the stories are sugary sweet, but ultimately forgettable. They didn’t stand out from the mountains of pretty shoujo manga. Nijiiro Days (Rainbow Colored Days) is a tale of adolescent fun,
idiocy silliness, mischief, and a touch of romance–it sounds like it would fall into the same pattern. But the colorful personalities and hobbies of the boys keep it fresh.
Natsuki is the main character and fits the shoujo manga lead mold fairly well–he’s all smiles, bright, and innocent when it comes to romance. He recently got his first girlfriend and asks two friends for Christmas date advice. He’s immediately rejected because Tomoya is too busy figuring out how to juggle his 5 girlfriends in the same day and Keiichi is too busy fielding a phone call from his, pointing out she was not given permission to call him and must be punished (to which she happily consents to)… and the tone is set for this manga. Natsuki’s friends include a playboy, a sadist, and an otaku whose fetishes occasionally creep out. All this in Betsuma?! In comparison, they think Natsuki has a pure maiden heart and tease him relentlessly for it, but they ultimately look out for him. This manga is all about their (sometimes dubious) friendship and (mis)adventures in love.
Natsuki is the romantic and dreamer of the group and sometimes those dreams are shattered. He’s dumped on Christmas, left alone to cry and clutch his rejected gift, a cute scarf. He gives it to a girl dressed like Santa who offered him tissues. Later, he spots the same scarf at school–who is she, why is she wearing that scarf like it’s special? Is she thinking of Natsuki? His imagination spinning completely out of control, eventually the boys learn the truth about the girl with the scarf. No, she didn’t fall in love at first sight with Natsuki–she just liked the scarf and once she found out it was from Natsuki, tries to politely return it. Anna is a cute character–she’s calm, quiet, often expressionless, but smiles nicely. She’s an oasis in the midst of all these crazy personalities. Thankfully, their story isn’t over–Natsuki is drawn by Anna’s quiet smile and they become friends.
In contrast to Natsuki’s innocence, you have Tomoya–the playboy of the group who we often see act/speak like a complete scum bag when it comes to women (which his friends readily point out). He loves women and the validation that the chase and catch bring. He seeks their attention, they seek his. He doesn’t handle rejection well, so he’s taken aback when confronted with the man-hater, Mari.
Mari is Anna’s friend, so she and her loud insults are unavoidable. Mari puts the TSUN in tsundere, constantly spitting venomous words at any man and even tries to sabatoge Natsuki’s gift to Anna. While Mari’s personality is abrasive to say the least, Anna is chill and accepting. Mari doesn’t appreciate these disgusting men hovering over Anna and makes that known. It seems like Tomoya wants to tame this girl… despite the fact it’s implied she’s a lesbian. Tomoya does have a redeeming quality or two if you squint, like how he will look out for his friend. Although sometimes that’s after teasing and making him miserable.
Keiichi seems like the nice guy of the bunch… until he busts out that whip he always carries (where does he hide it?!). Keiichi is a sadist and his odd tastes and nature creep out into conversation, disturbing his friends. He’s proud that he keeps it to one girl at a time, unlike Tomoya. His older brother is a teacher at their school and they share similar “hobbies.” Oh boy.
Tsuyoshi (nickname: Tsuyopon) is an otaku. He’s aloof and does things at his own pace to the point he is incapable considering the situation and feelings of others around him. He just processes things differently. He gets the brilliant idea of inviting Anna to their study session but neglects to inform Natsuki that his crush will be there. Like the other two friends, his interaction with women is a bit off. He has a girlfriend who’s into cosplay, but almost breaks up with her because she dyed her hair to match a character. Black is moe for him and you don’t mess with the moe points of an otaku.
Even though the three guy friends often act like tools, it’s a pretty entertaining read. The craziness works with the tone of the manga. It similar to Morinaga Ai’s writing style, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. It’s not your standard sweet shoujo manga. It’s a bit crude, but there’s no malice or ugliness. There is an extended preview available online, so you can judge for yourself. The story has sweet moments. Natsuki and Anna begin to realize they enjoy being together by the end of the first volume. Tomoya might calm down a bit if he decides to aim for Mari, but she will be screeching the entire time, so plug your ears. Tsuyopon seems happy enough with his girlfriend not to break up over his moe disappointment. And perhaps Keiichi will find the perfect M someday…? In this manga, expect idiot boys doing idiot boy things. They may look all cute and innocent, but there’s a lot of mischief going on.