The latest issue of Bessatsu Friend (Betsufure) showcases a relatively new mangaka named Kumaoka Fuyu (熊岡冬夕). From the moment I saw the tiny thumbnail picture on Kodansha’s site, I knew I had to pick up this issue! The story is actually right up my alley (though may be hackneyed and tired for other readers):
Sakashita Nanase is an erudite high school girl and she also is the class president. Straight-laced and dependable, even her teachers count on her to pick up after their slack! She’s quite content living out her high school days as a model student, but she can’t help but to be drawn to Hana-kun, who is the school’s resident troublemaker. He was suspended recently due to using violence within school grounds, and is on probation but still has to come to school to complete his studies in confinement (-__-;;). Nanase is minding her own business in the school yard when all of a sudden, Hana-kun pops up from the basement into the yard! Shocked, Nanase is about to yell out when Hana-kun quickly covers her mouth and tells her that if she tells anyone, he’ll kill her. Nanase is too shocked to even squeak at that point. After Hana-kun quickly runs away, Nanase regains her composure and thinks to herself, “WTH! He’ll be expelled if he’s caught! Idiot!” She then finds that he dropped a mysterious small box…
The next day, a nerdy boy calls Nanase out and confesses to her, for the umpteenth time. Nanase is in process to reject him when the nerdy boy becomes a bit forceful. All of a sudden, Hana-kun pops out from the basement room again and quickly intervenes by ordering Nanase to help him with his homework. Dejected, the nerdy boy runs away with his tail between his legs. Nanase realizes that maybe Hana-kun intervened to “save” her from the nerdy boy. She starts to thank Hana-kun but he quickly says, “I guess he must really like you…” Nanase is at a loss for words and Hana-kun asks her, “What makes your heart flutter?” Taken aback, Nanase thinks for a moment, and then starts a long laundry list of all the “romantic stepping stones” that lead to marriage and Hana-kun looks dumbfounded and says he regrets asking her, since it’s clear to him that she has no real life relationship experience!
Nanase realizes the next day that she still has the small box that she found near where Hana-kun was. She sees him and asks him if he dropped the box. He hesitates, and said that he has no need for it anymore. He then says that the person who he was going to give it to will think it’s too childish…It was supposed to be a present for a person that he likes.
Nanase is a bit shell shocked upon hearing this. When he leaves, she opens the box. A teddy bear pops out like a jack-in-the-box and sings Happy Birthday! Nanase thinks it’s cute and smiles at first, and then she feels as if she’ll cry…
The next day, as Nanase is at school, she hears a group of teachers talk about Hana-kun and how he was wandering around outside during his suspension and how this may lead to his expulsion from the school. Shocked and nearly in tears, Nanase quickly tells the teachers that Hana-kun had a good reason and desperately tries to diffuse the situation.
The next day, as Nanase is sitting in class, the door slides open and it’s Hana-kun! “Osu,” he says, and smiles at a surprised Nanase. As the chapter comes to a class, Nanase wonders to herself, “I don’t know why, but I want to learn more about Hana-kun. Almost as if…”
Annnnnd! That’s it! It’s not super-polished but I really love the art and the premise (bad boy + goody-two-shoes girl). I’m not sure if I’ll regularly get Betsufure from here on but this is definitely on my radar!