Rainbow Days Volume One focuses on four high school boys: dreamer Natsuki Hashiba, self-centered playboy Tomoya Matsunaga, winsome guy Keiichi Katakura, and awkward nerd Tsuyoshi Naoe.

Rainbow Days Volume One
Written by: Minami Mizuno
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 6, 2022

This is a slice-of-life shojo manga featuring four high school boys going through their time at school. A lot of the focus is on Natsuki, who has just gotten his first girlfriend. The prologue takes place right around Christmas, with Natsuki, Tomoya, and Keiichi getting ready for dates on Christmas Eve. But poor Natsuki… after finding what he thinks is the perfect gift, his girlfriend turns her nose up at it. She only went out with him thinking he had money because of a fancy watch he was wearing (which was just a hand-me-down from one of his siblings). After being dumped, Natsuki encounters a girl handing out tissues in front of a karaoke place. He notices she’s cold and gives her the scarf that his now ex-girlfriend refused to take. This one action sets the stage for what happens to Natsuki going forward in the volume.

In the first chapter, Natsuki discovers that the girl he gave the scarf to is a student at his high school, and he finds himself falling for her… but he’s too shy to approach her. However, they have an unexpected encounter at the karaoke place where she works. When Anna (the girl) finally approaches him to return the scarf, things get awkward when her man-hating best friend Mari butts into what appears to be a blossoming interest between Natsuki and Anna. This volume seems to be depicting that Mari is a lesbian who is attracted to Anna and is jealous of her getting closer with Natsuki. It doesn’t help that playboy Tomoya kisses Mari out of the blue at one point, flustering her and causing him to wonder why he did that in the first place. If there’s an “antagonist” in this series, that title would have to go to Mari.

Right at first, Tsuyoshi doesn’t seem to be an important character. However, after it’s revealed he has a girlfriend who is a cosplayer, he becomes more integral to the stories that appear in this volume. It’s because of him and his girlfriend’s desire to do “reverse chocolates” for Valentine’s Day (guys giving them to girls instead of girls giving them to guys) that we get a story of the guys learning how to make truffles from Tomoya. It’s kind of amusing if you think about it, that the playboy is the one who knows how to make sweets, especially since he comes across as a guy who wants girls to make food for him.

I haven’t talked about Keiichi yet, because to be honest, there isn’t a lot to say about him. He’s depicted as being into S&M and domination, and he’s shown with a whip on a rather regular basis. I haven’t seen too much more to his character outside of this, and I find myself wondering why he’s even included in this series. I’m hoping that maybe he’ll becomes more of a character in future volumes and become more important to the overall series.

When it comes to the art in Rainbow Days, our four protagonists all have a bishonen look to them. Mizuno knows who her target market is for this series, and it shows through the character designs. While the girls who appear in this volume look decent, you can tell that Mizuno went to a lot more effort in the design of the male leads. The use of screentone in this volume also makes it clear that this is a shojo series.

Rainbow Days is a shojo slice-of-life series, which means that its tension comes more from misunderstandings and emotions than anything else… which is typical for this kind of a series. However, from what I’ve seen, it appears this series ran for 15 volumes, and to be honest, I’m not sure that the series’ premise and execution can continue to be as strong as it is here. While it’s an enjoyable enough story, I’m just afraid that it’s going to wear itself into the ground before reaching that final volume. It’s interesting to note that this manga began serializing Japan about a decade ago, and that the last tankobon volume was released in 2017, so I’m wondering why it took VIZ Media so long to license this title for an English release.

However, if you enjoy shojo manga with high school boys experiencing their school days, then Rainbow Days might appeal to you.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Additional posts about Rainbow Days: