Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun Volume One takes supernatural concepts and presents them in a light-hearted manner.

Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun Volume One
Written by: AidaIro
Publisher: Square Enix Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: January 28, 2020

Volume One introduces a character named Nene Yashiro, a first-year in the high school division of Kamome Academy. The school has seven mysteries, and the seventh is Hanako-san of the Toilet. It’s said that Hanako-san can be found in the third stall from the end of the girls’ bathroom on the third floor of the building. The ghost story goes on to say that if you summon Hanako-san, she will grant one wish.

Nene decides to check out this story for herself, and when she summons the ghost, she’s surprised to find a boy instead of a girl. The first chapter establishes Nene and Hanako as characters, as well as sets the ground rules for the series. Unfortunately, Nene does something without thinking about it, and it ends with the fates of these two characters becoming intertwined.

In the third chapter, a new character is introduced: Minamoto Kou. He’s a third-year middle school student at Kamome Academy, and he comes from a renowned family of exorcists. He’s made it his goal to exorcise Hanako. Obviously, he doesn’t succeed, because otherwise the story would come to an end.

Over the course of the stories in Volume One, Nene finds herself getting intertwined with the supernatural happenings that are taking place at her school. In the final two chapters, it becomes personal for Nene when her friend Aoi disappears and no one else remembers that she ever existed. Minamoto finds himself accompanying Nene and Hanako to the netherworld to try to rescue their classmates who disappeared. The final story in this volume doesn’t conclude here, so you have to read Volume Two in order to find out what happened to Aoi and the other students that disappeared.

Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun is done in a light-hearted manner, and this tone works for the stories that AidaIro is conveying in this series. Admittedly, the main characters can be a little on the one-dimensional side at this point, but considering the tone and humor of the series, they kind of need to be one-dimensional in order for the humor to work. Nene is the lovesick teenage girl who also has some interest in the occult, Hanako can be mischievous, and Minamoto is brash and hot-headed. Their combination of their personalities help to fuel the humor that appears in Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun.

I appreciated the fact that at the back of Volume One, the translators included a page of “Translation Notes.” In addition to the usual explanation of honorifics, they also explain some of the Japanese cultural references that appear in the volume. I thought it was interesting to learn that the legend of the ghost Hanako-san is based on a famous school ghost story in Japan. I know there have been references to school ghost stories in some of the manga I’ve read and the anime I’ve watched, but I had no idea if any of them were based on actual Japanese ghost stories. Now that I know that Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun is based on a real-life ghost story, it adds an interesting layer to this series for me.

When it comes to the art style, it has kind of a “cute” look to it. I hesitate to call it a “chibi” style, but it’s based more on chibi than on realism. But I think this art style works for a light-hearted series like Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun. There are occasional panels of Nene, especially when she’s in her thoughts, where her character design looks more inspired by shojo manga. But these shojo-inspired designs for Nene are rare in the volume.

When I borrowed Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun Volume One from my youngest child, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, after reading this volume, I found that I enjoyed the light-hearted storytelling and the progression of the story. I also found Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun to be a quick read. My youngest also has the second volume of the series, so I hope to borrow that from her at some point so I can see how the series continues.

If you enjoy manga series with supernatural elements that are told in a light-hearted manner, then you will likely find something to appreciate in Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun Volume One.

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