MANGA REVIEW | "Toilet-bound Hanako-kun" - Volume Two
AidaIro’s Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun has some of the most original and eye-popping visuals I’ve seen in any recent manga. It’s one that seems rough around the edges, but on closer inspection it is both smooth and brimming with personality on every page. Fortunately, it also has quite the fun and deep supernatural story to pair the art style with, as evident by Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun’s second volume.
Leading off where the first volume ended, Hanako-kun, Nene, and Kou are roaming through the realm of school mystery #2: the Misaki Stairs. After finding the pieces to (poorly) build a human body, the trio face off against a destructive spirit wanting to bring an important person back together. Meanwhile, a new rumor about confessing your love by a certain tree has Nene worrying that Hanako-kun will show romantic feelings for her, despite her claims that she only likes him as a friend. If that doesn’t sound too troublesome, the arrival of Kou’s older brother Teru could spell the end of Hanako-kun’s time on Earth.
The thing I appreciate about Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun is its means of reading a situation. Despite some of its more humorous parts, AidaIro doesn’t always go for the laughs. Quite the contrary, it knows when to let Hanako-kun, Nene, and Kou show a little heart and emotion when the time calls for it. In this second volume, these moments of deep reflection come often, giving way to some kinder reveals from these characters.
One of the best examples of this comes during “The Confession Tree” chapter. Nene gets worked up thinking that Hanako-kun is about to tell her he likes her, only to be crushed when it was just for a way to bring out a bad supernatural. Although somewhat relieved, Nene is still heartbroken over how Hanako-kun decided to use her for his mission. The look of regret on Hanako-kun’s face showcases a deep apologetic emotion towards Nene, giving way not only to some deep character development, but also a truly standout moment in both Nene and Hanako-kun’s relationship.
This could also be said about Kou’s friendship with Hanako-kun, which evolves greatly when he helps the spirit find and return items that the Mokke have stolen. Although he doesn’t still trust him completely, Kou finds that Hanako-kun’s intentions aren’t exactly bad. However, with his past involving a murder, one can wonder why he aims to do good in this world before completely passing on. But knowing the kindness he’s capable of, Kou goes so far as to side with the spirit, even as Teru attempts to exorcise him.
Volume Two of Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun not only delivers a stylistic school-grounded adventure, but also a lot of deep character evolutions. How Nene and Kou’s relationships with Hanako-kun have grown through this singular volume alone demonstrates the strengths of AidaIro both as a writer and visionary. There are plenty of mysteries left to be unveiled, and Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun aims to solve them with a delicious dose of wit, humor, and heart on every page!
Promotional consideration provided by Erik Jansen of MediaLab PR