Bokuben: All Caught Up

Back in Winter I went ahead and marathoned all of Kaguya-sama and then caught up with the manga soon after up until the Ice Kaguya personality took over and something similar happened with Bokuben as this post was written up at least 3 weeks ago but I was waiting on Jojo to finally end before I posted it.

Turned out Gotoubun aired a season before Bokuben did with a somewhat similar plot and I’ll probably get into that since the two girls I’m interested in seem to be in the run for the most popular girls to begin with, fancy that. While Bokuben hasn’t finished yet, that second season is coming and while I realize certain parts of some decently important character-building chapters were not adapted, I can only hope that we get to the better chapters of the series to really make it come onto its own. But before that, let’s go over some of the later, more focused parts.

When I look back at the other romcoms I’ve involved myself with, I always remember some disappointing dip in the series that put me off on it, be it an ending or an especially annoying arc near the end that just puts a damper on my experience.  For example, School Rumble had the author rewrite his ending a number of times and have many cite the conclusion to the series as inferior to the rest. Masamune-kun’s Revenge almost did a bait and switch with Yoshino but also had that unnecessary “I’m allergic” thing that stopped the main duo’s relationship dead in its tracks for however long it went. Nisekoi is a funny example where the author of Bokuben was the assistant and was heavily involved with the spin-off. Anyways, plenty of stuff went wrong with Nisekoi but the most notable one was the abundance of insignificant characters, the inconsequential key and lock plot-line, and just ignoring most of what the early chapters established. I guess you can throw Hayate no Gotoku in there too where it’s disgustingly long Mangaka arc and its “we’re getting too self-aware” comedy in the final arc where things got serious again wasn’t all that funny, a far cry from when the series got to Athena properly.

Bokuben has yet to reach that point in its run that has seriously disappointed me aside from a particular character’s big arc but even then it did not discourage me from the series in its entirety like most others. It helps that the series isn’t basing itself on dumb tsundere antics that involves abusing the MC in some way aside from the handful of times it happened because of certain misunderstandings but decent interactions from the cast and their attempts to gain higher grades. Speaking of which, Nariyuki’s active role in the plot and the overall theme of events beyond highschool give the series a bit more depth than your average romcom that only focuses on the now. His agency to be involved in the live of the girls he’s around stems directly from their shared goals of graduating successfully and getting into the college they am for. Can’t get any more relatable than that.

So far we’ve had all of the girls getting a major development arcs covering their backstories which add some much needed depth to enjoy their characters beyond their cute antics. The anime had mostly covered Uruka’s little scenes the most with how both Yuiga and Uruka affected each other’s work ethic which clued in on how Yuiga’s own development will look like, which we also see a little glimpse of in the final episode where despite his efforts in teaching them, Yuiga has very little idea on how to work towards the future himself. So far though, Uruka’s arc hasn’t been concluded as of yet as she has yet to make a full decision about studying abroad away from the main cast after graduation.

Asumi’s arc struck closer to home than I was expecting, and honestly, this entire series dealing with the prospect of futures through studying resonates with me a lot. Asumi’s arc revolves around her studying a subject that she currently shows little progress in to inherit the family clinic and she is struck with the news that her father is planning on shutting down the business due to his own heath issues. Nariyuki helps identify the reasons as to why ASumi is so set on inheriting the clinic as well as convincing her that her wishes to make people happy with her line of work goes well beyond just inheriting a small clinic. It’s a mixture of seeing her smug exterior crack as well as knowing the pains of pursuing  such a high bar that strikes me as being really relatable.

Perhaps the most serious of the arcs belongs to Fumino, whose arc covers the death of her mother and the subsequent abandonment from her father. Fumino’s mother was a mathematics prodigy and her career, in time, would become one of the most brilliant minds in the world and Fumino’s father was there to see it through and help the world with her brilliance. An illness however cut that future short and Fumino’s father despaired, devastated not only at the loss of his wife but by the loss of the potential future she could have helped usher in. Not even Fumino’s innocent and heartfelt attempts at wanting to help her father and honor her mother’s wishes was able to pull him out of the depths of his loss, going as far as to strike Fumino during her attempt to console him. This divided the two as family and they’ve been estranged ever since. The arc begins during parent-teacher conferences when Fumino’s father arrives mostly in fascination of Rizu because she showcased her mathematical talents in a university visit a couple chapters back and the ensuing argument between them has Fumino live with the Nariyuki family for a time before Nariyuki convinces her to confront her father instead of continuing about their broken relationship as is. One of the definitive arcs for the series as it is one of the longest story arcs but it does have a rather convenient ending.

Kirisu’s arc is one of the more realistic ones, where it explains her hard-headed style of education stemming from her experiences as an up and coming figure skater who longed for something else in her life. The topic of discussion pops up around the time Yuiga decides to forego his initial goal of graduating with the VIP recommendation and wanting to pursue a future in teaching. At this point of the manga, Kirisu is given the chance to go back to figure skate and she is at a loss of what to do but she also disapproves of Nariyuki’s decision. His decision turned out more similar to Kirisu’s life than we thought as it was none other than Nariyuki’s father who was her highschool teacher that inspired her to change course and become an educator, much to the dismay of her family.  Her lack of experience however in her TA years had her push one of her students to pursue music in college but the harsh realities of a competitive school had her in despair and Kirisu blamed herself for a future ruined by her naivety. From there, Kirisu’s stubborn but understandable objective of focusing on a person’s natural talent was the cornerstone of her teaching methods but lo and behold, Nariyuki tracks down that one student who she deemed as her greatest failure to reveal that she’s happy and well, pursuing her career as a musician in an indie band and that she holds no contempt to her teacher. In fact, she’s glad that Kirisu gave her the extra push in the first place. This shit is straight out of a galge route, we might as well be in sensei route as the succeeding chapters, and the very arc’s final panels have Kirisu acting incredibly different towards Nariyuki.

So after some solid arcs, Rizu’s arc mostly lost its impact on me greatly. So her biggest hang-up in her life revolves around her grandmother who is the reason she enjoys board-games so much because she used to make them to play with her. Rizu’s ineptitude at the game had her grandmother jokingly tell her to come back when she got better at the game but this was right before she passed away, leaving Rizu a bit scarred since she was also terrible at reading people and understanding what they meant aside from the obvious. Rizu’s hang-ups, to be fair, are a common for her archetype but I feel that reading everyone else’s arc before her’s was a misstep since it’s rather weak and lacking in any impact compared to everyone else’s problems. It provides a decent explanation for her character and wanting to better understand people because of it but the other arcs’ payoff come off more rewarding than Rizu’s.

I went into the anime first hoping for an Uruka win but now Mafuyu is up front and center for my preferences but Uruka is still in second place. It’s still up in the air how she handles her eventual arc but I still find her cuter for Nariyuki to be with.  Rizu, despite how much I like her, had a relatively disappointing arc and Fumino doesn’t seem to have accepted the fact that she’s in the race for Nariyuki too. Asumi is really cute but I don’t think the relationship is going to advance that far. I pray to the gods that Bokuben doesn’t end up like those series I mentioned at the start, I hope it ends well.

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