Ririchiyo Shirakiin has just moved into the exclusive apartment building Maison de Ayakashi, a.k.a. Ayakashi Hall. Ayakashi Hall caters to those from old, rich families who are genetic throwbacks to the ayakashi—mythical creatures with whom their ancestors intermarried. The building provides Secret Service bodyguards for its tenants, but Ririchiyo wants to be independent. With this in mind, she has declined the Secret Service, but upon her arrival, she discovers that she has been assigned a bodyguard anyway: Soushi Miketsukami. In spite of Ririchiyo’s initial rejection, Miketsukami manages to secure his position in her service and attends her with the dedication and selflessness of a loyal dog. As the story progresses, the dark past Miketsukami is hiding from Ririchiyo is revealed, even as she struggles with her budding feelings for him.
Readers looking for a romance with depth and humor will enjoy Inu X Boku SS. The supernatural aspect of the story adds flavor to the characters and creates a foundation for their emotional struggles, but is not the main purpose of the story. Ririchiyo and Miketsukami both have very human problems, through which they must work if they are ever to have the lives they desire. The story is peppered with a colorful assortment of other ayakashi misfits who add humor to a tale that is often tragic, including a laid back guy who turns into an ittan-momen (cloth monster) and a boy who insists he’s a delinquent, despite his transformation into a cute mamedanuki (miniature raccoon dog). These characters forge humorous connections to the Japanese folklore employed by the story’s creator.
Cocoa Fujiwara’s artwork is beautiful and readers will enjoy both the human and ayakashi forms of the characters. In Ririchiyo’s ayakashi form, the artist creates a modern twist on a traditional outfit that is both feminine and awe-inspiring. Combined with the physical aspects of Ririchiyo’s transformation, one is left with an impression of the delicate strength she possesses without realizing it. Conversely, Fujiwara uses the powerfulness of Miketsukami’s ayakashi form to emphasize his deep vulnerability. These techniques are employed throughout the manga, creating a visual atmosphere that is as poignant as it is beautiful.
There are a few “pervert” characters of which librarians should be aware: an adult male who categorizes everyone as an “S” or an “M” for sadist or masochist, and an adult woman who fawns over the “smexy” high school girls, posing inquiries such as “May I try to loop a finger over the tops of your thigh-highs?” In addition, Miketsukami’s dark past includes life as a teenage gigolo. As such, this series is not advised for young teens; it would be better suited for older teens and adults.
Inu X Boku SS, vols. 1-2
by Cocoa Fujiwara
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9780316243131
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9780316322072
Yen Press, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)