Shonen-Ai manga His Favorite (アイツ の 大本命）burst onto the Boys Love scene in 2009. The series earned first place in the Boys Love Watch List (この BL が やばい, literal translation ‘These BL are dangerous!’), garnering author, Suzuki Tanaka, enough attention to earn re-printings of her older series. So, between the cute drawings and the sweet high school setting, what makes this series so special?
Story & Art: Tanaka Suzuki
English Release: 11 September 2012 (10 volumes – ongoing)
English Publisher: SuBLime
Page: 174 pages
Yoshida Yoshio’s everyday school life is anything but relaxing. Each day he’s hounded by girls, frustrated at his close relationship with school ‘prince’ Sato Takahiko. But Yoshida has never even talked to Sato before. Sato just uses him as a convenient excuse to get out of dates! When Yoshida’s crush begs him to find out who Sato’s ‘favorite’ is, Yoshida can’t help but agree to the request. But the answer Sato gives him is completely unexpected…
You should be happy. See, you’re my favorite.
On the surface, His Favorite seems just like 80% of Boys Love manga out there. You have the high school setting with a slow romantic build up and a few gags thrown in. What makes His Favorite stand out is the dynamic relationship between Sato and Yoshida. They continually take on different roles. Sato can tease Yoshida but also relies on him for support, just as Yoshida can feel a bit inferior to Sato but also be his champion. The two work together to build one another up and support each other through thick and thin. There is a depth to their relationship which is often missing from Boys Love series. Their relationship is so realistic as it builds on their past and present. You can even imagine their future together.
While first looking at the character designs, you may think that they are a bit simple. But honestly, this simplicity is the manga’s strongest feature and allows more dynamic facial expressions and focus on each panel; there isn’t any noise to get distracted by. While Yoshida was created as an ugly character, I actually find him quite cute, and I believe this is where the manga stumbles a bit. Seeing Yoshida being teased for his looks seems ridiculous, as to the reader, he looks fine. I almost feel like many mangaka are a bit scared to truly make an ugly character but instead create ones that are still adorable with just a mark or two to distract from their appearance. I’d have loved to have seen Suzuki Tanaka be a bit braver with Yoshida’s design.
On to some quick negatives of the series. I do get quite bored with the school prince/princess ‘trope’ that is worshipped by other students. Personally, the unrealistic fanaticism of the girls surrounding Sato ended up frustrating me more than making me chuckle. Especially when they turned on Yoshida and became nasty. On another note, I found that some side characters were thrown in just to stir up trouble without any proper background or character development.
Themes & Trivia
I love you, but I also love teasing you: The series features a pretty common trope in Japanese pop culture, the idea of teasing the one you love (see the many types of dere characters). Sato identifies himself as a sadist, but he knows Yoshida’s limits and is ready to stop when things get too far.
Body Image & Weight: The series does touch on the effects of ‘fat shaming’, especially at a young age, for two of the series’ characters. On top of this, Yoshida is often bullied by the other girls about his looks. Unfortunately, there isn’t a big attempt to make a statement about this; Yoshida’s experience of being bullied is just used as a plot point for Sato to tease him or act lovey-dovey.
Live Action: To celebrate the release of the Vol.9, Japanese company Libre Publishing released a series of live action commercials. Each commercial is told from the POV of Sato or Yoshida. You can watch them with English subtitles ere.
A Hiragana Face? Those familiar with Japanese characters may have spotted the strange ‘mo’ (も）shape of Makimura’s nose. His face is based off ‘henohenomoheji’, a silly face Japanese school children draw, often on scarecrows or teru-teru-bozu.
Let This Series be Your Favorite!
His Favorite is a series that will always remain close to my heart. While its basis seems quite cliche, the wonderful characters really make this series a gem. This series is perhaps a bit more of a ‘fluff’ or comedy series. For those interested in something more serious I’d recommend checking out a series like Ten Count. Let me know in the comments what ‘your favorite’ boys love series is!
- Character expressions are dynamic and really add to the comedy of the story
- Yoshida’s friends (Makimura and Akimoto) are developed into full fledged characters,in later volumes, and are not just random stand-ins
- The relationship between Yoshida and Sato is paced well enough to keep readers engaged but also keep a bit of tension
- An excellent series for beginners to the boys love genre
- The flippancy of bullying scenes may be off putting or upsetting to some readers
- The series seems to have been on hiatus since 2006
- The series does tend to just be fluff with a lack of serious topics/ scenes