Title:Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle Vol. 1 Author: Hiromu (Story), Bobkya (Art), raemz (Characters) Publisher: Yen Press Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 227 Genre: Shounen, Battle Publication Date: July 12, 2022
Chitose is a man-slut shithead… aka… one of the most popular boys at school. He has been blessed with good looks and the ability to have nearly any conversation he wants. After taking the role of president of year 2, class 5, he is tasked by his homeroom teacher, Kuranosuke Iwanami, to bring an otaku shut-in named Kenta back to school.
That’s literally it for the story side of things. It doesn’t really get much more straightforward than that.
This is probably the shortest Story section I’ve written because there literally is nothing else to it than that. So how did they cram a short synopsis like that into 200+ pages? Easy… they built this series on its characters.
This is the section that’s going to take a while… hoo boy….
The first volume does give us a great introduction to Chitose and his friends… two of which are guys (Kaito and Kazuki) and three girls (Yua, Yuzuki, and Yuuko). So, let’s break them down.
First off, our main star is Saku Chitose. I have never seen a mixed bag of a character like him where I didn’t end up hating him. In other words, he has to be one of the most dynamic slice-of-life main characters I have seen in quite some time. Not only does he have great looks and popularity, but he has a gilded tongue that allows him to take control of any situation. He’s cocky and arrogant, always firing back some quick-witted responses, and has a bit of snarkiness to him, he’s confident, but also on the flip side, he’s caring as we get to see in the back half of the volume.
It’s almost as if he has this internal switch that he can flip on and off at will. He knows exactly when to be snarky, when to be funny, when to be serious, when to be caring, when to be flirty, when to be confident, etc., etc. No matter what situation he’s put into, he always knows how to handle it which might make him sound like some overpowered main character from an isekai fantasy series but when you apply and ground all of those attributes in real life, you get Chitose.
One thing you also get with him is the dark side to being all of that. Through Chitose, you get to realize that being popular and good at stuff comes with a price. You always have to make sure you are at the absolute top of your game every single day to stay that popular… but… it also teaches you that you should never take your popularity for granted. Truly popular people don’t try and lower themselves to others, nor do they expect others “beneath them” to raise them up to their standards. Even if they are popular, one should always see everyone on an equal playing field. Chitose even admits that he only considers people his friends and, therefore, popular, if they are good-natured and down-to-Earth.
For someone who starts off the series as a very brash character, he also exhibits a philosophical side, too. This is why he’s such a mixed bag but I love this character because most times, a mixed bag character is mixed for the sake of trying to shake things up. Chitose feels like he has direction and purpose. He feels balanced and well-rounded despite having so many traits. He is, so far, a fantastic main character!
This is where the interesting aspect of the characters stops until we get to Kenta. Everyone else seems like they are just along for the ride and that might be true since one of the criticisms from Kenta was that all of Chitose’s friends hang onto him just because he’s popular. The fact that they write the other main/supporting characters in such a way and then call attention to it makes the series a bit self-aware but in a non-obvious way. It was a careful line that was walked here and it makes you look at people like Yua, Yuzuki, Yuuko, Kaito, and Kazuki in a different light.
I mean Kaito and Kazuki are just sports guys. They each share the same kind of personality as the brash version of Chitose while Yuuko is described as being a flirt and an airhead but she doesn’t really exhibit those qualities. She just seems like a normal friend to Chitose. Maybe something like that will come into play later?
I’m sure that we’ll all have a chance to get to know the cast more but this volume seemed to focus mostly on Chitose and Kenta.
Speaking of… Kenta is your typical otaku shut-in. I won’t spoil the reason revealed, but he doesn’t want to go to school anymore and has a thing against popular kids. After Chitose finds a way into his room and has a conversation with him, Kenta begins to realize that being popular isn’t what he imagined it to be. He slowly comes to understand the way things are and it makes him rethink his beliefs.
There is still a lot to learn from Kenta, though. The effects of peer pressure, social status, and perception can be just as impactful as being bullied. It can cause us to think a certain way and, sometimes, isolate ourselves from others. Once Kenta opens up and you get to know him, he becomes very relatable. Although, things do take a bit to get there because, as you can imagine, he’s very difficult to deal with. It’s like his mind is on a one-way street and it can’t turn around but if you keep showing it the way, it’ll eventually find that turn to get you back on the right road.
I’m not sure where they are going to go from here with Kenta but the promise he wants Chitose to make with him sure opens up a lot of possibilities for the next volume.
That was quite the wild ride. To be honest, when I first heard the name Chitose… I thought it was a girl. So reading the synopsis and seeing it was a guy took me by surprise. Then reading the book and seeing his personality blindsided me. This wasn’t going to be your cutesy main character that was timid, shy, couldn’t talk to girls, got bullied, etc., etc. This was a main character that had a set on him that wasn’t afraid to speak his mind nor was afraid of what anyone thought of him.
It was really refreshing to see a different approach taken as you don’t see it all too often in this type of setting/genre. While I had hoped to see more from the other mains, focusing on Chitose and Kenta was the right call as it really set the stage for what this series is going to be about. The fact that this is going to be the journey of a lonely otaku into the realm of popularity makes this stand out a bit from your typical fare of slice-of-life offerings.
With Chitose being such a mixture of traits, I wonder how this is going to translate onto Kenta going forward? That’s the hook being used here to set up the rest of the series and it’s a pretty good one. All I know is that I’m invested and ready to read more!