Inu x Boku SS vol. 1 – Cocoa Fujiwara

3 out of 5

Intrigued enough by the anime to check out the source material, I am reminded how much effort can go in to adapting these things – that sometimes it’s just “copying” dialogue and panels but very often, as with Inu x Boku SS, it’s about digging out some core elements that actually work for an animated series – and also brought to question whether or not I’d be reading this without memory of the series.  Creator Cocoa Fujiwara’s style, which is very bubbly, and often chucks out backgrounds and any scene setting to go in close on her lithe, under-emotive characters, takes a while to warm up / to warm to, making the first few chapters of this book rather jumbled in their blending of narrative (Ayakashi – sort of a spirit – enhanced Ririchiyo moves in to the exclusive Maison de Ayakashi to be surrounded by those of similar enhancements, and is then plagued by a hate/love relationship with her obsessed bodyguard, Soushi) and comedy, and though the latter is often pretty successful – lots of chibi characters and overlapping dialogue and antics – it feels wholly separate from the actual story, meaning Inu x Boku SS never quite gels as an experience, so much as a series of gags interspersed with teen girl fantasies and worries.

I commented a bit on the emotional aspect when reviewing the anime; the creator was female, and started in the business young, and I’d guess that lead Ririchiyo’s tsundere personality – snapping at everyone, then privately doubting her actions / reactions – had some personal connections, but it’s not really a character type I enjoy reading about, unless given some more intriguing reason to do so, which, with the sort of mixed up writing style, doesn’t come across here.  The anime, meanwhile, doubled down on the comedy and counterplayed the dramatics off of it effectively, allowing me to be distracted by laughter while getting to know Ririchiyo.  Towards the end of this volume, that balance starts to come into play, suggesting Fujiwara might’ve found more focus in subsequent volumes, but the overall pace of the story and unlayered art didn’t grab me enough to continue on to find out.