Title: Rainbow Days Vol. 1
Author: Minami Mizuno
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
Rainbow Days centers around four high school boys and their trials and tribulations with love. While all four have their own unique scenarios, the manga focuses on our main character, Natsuki Hashiba.
When the manga opens, the three we are introduced to all have girlfriends. In fact, Tomoya Matsunaga has five of them because he’s a giant playboy and is never satisfied with one girlfriend. Keiichi Katakura only has one girlfriend but he’s way into masochism! Natsuki, on the other hand, is unlike either of those two. He’s pure, innocent, thoughtful, and caring… unlike his girlfriend who turns out to be a gold digger. When Keiichi and Tomoya try to tell him the truth, he doesn’t want to believe them because they never take anything seriously.
Well, on Christmas Eve, Natsuki finds out the truth the hard way. Sobbing on a street corner, he’s handed some tissues by a girl dressed in a Santa suit who was doing promotional work for a karaoke bar. After accepting the tissues, he mistakes a promotional item for genuine concern and gives her the scarf he was going to give to the gold digger, figuring he didn’t need it anymore and that she could use it to keep warm in the cold winter air. Natsuki later discovers that she goes to the same school as him but she’s protected by a loud and obnoxious friend named Mari Tsutsui.
With this roadblock in play, he must find a way to discover who she is and overcome his nervousness when it comes to asking her out. The first volume focuses on this and sees Natsuki and “Santa” (whose name is revealed as Anna Kobayakawa) run into each other multiple times. We also go through the typical Valentine’s Day chocolate tradition and the more they run into each other, the more Anna just wants to be friends until… she gives off a hint that she doesn’t!
As I described above, Natsuki is the normal one of the bunch. He’s about as pure as pure can be… almost to a fault. It’s because of his pureness that he’s quick to believe anything at face value, making him really naïve. He didn’t believe his friends when they tried to warn him about his girlfriend. He simply refused to believe that someone so sweet to his face about ever stabbing him in the back. Well, that’s inexperience for you because he did get stabbed and stabbed hard! Instantly falling in love with Anna over a scarf just shows he’s a bit shallow on the intelligence side as well. Still, it’s that innocent playfulness that he has that makes him an interesting character. You kind of want to root for him but you also want to bean him in the head whenever he does something dumb. If you ever did anything stupid or something outside of your comfort zone because a girl made you feel that way then consider Natsuki your avatar because that’s exactly what he is.
Tomoya is a mixed bag of a character. On the one hand, he’s a playboy. He has no shame whatsoever and will kiss a girl without warning… and without their consent, because that’s just what he does. On the other hand, it’s obvious that he genuinely cares about his friends. Even though he and Keiichi always tease Natsuki (and one another), they all have good intentions and a strong bond. Tomoya is just one of the two comic relief characters in our quartet. Like Natsuki, you think he’s cool in some moments, and in others, you want to smack him upside the head.
Thinking on it… I might be repeating that last line a few more times…
Keiichi is just like Tomoya in the “cares about his friends” department but he has absolutely ZERO SHAME in letting people know that he’s a masochist. Whips, spilling hot chocolate on himself, etc. If it causes pain, it turns him on and it leads to some pretty hilarious situations. While I’ll get to our fourth character in a second, I should say that the fourth character has a cosplaying girlfriend. When she was invited over to study, she brought a real whip with her for one of her cosplays. Keiichi was more infatuated with the whip than anything else. He’s just that type of person and out of the four, as far as comic relief goes, he’s the best. I’m going to enjoy this character quite a bit… I just hope the running gag doesn’t overstay its welcome and get old.
Lastly… the fourth! Tsuyoshi Naoe (no relation to Riki). While everyone else is just a bundle of sunshine and stupid rays, Tsuyoshi is dark, gloomy, short-spoken, and a bit misunderstood. He’s an otaku and quite unpredictable but despite this… out of all four of them, he’s the only one in the group with a stable relationship… or so we thought. He seems to only like black hair so when his girlfriend dyes it orange for a group cosplay, he got mad at her and even thought about breaking up. Despite that, he got over it (somewhat) and things are on the mend. It’s a typical lovers’ quarrel over differing opinions which every couple goes through. In that aspect, it is quite normal.
This manga is off to a great start. I love the difference in character traits among the four members of the main cast. They play off of each other so well and the words on the page easily show that Minami Mizuno had a great time writing them. In most romance series, everyone is so plain and vanilla that if it weren’t for their character designs, they would sink into the background and get lost but not here. Every character is unique, stands out, and would make you believe that they would mix like oil and water but they don’t. Despite how drastically different they are, they gel really well together.
The love story between Natsuki and Anna is just so pure and innocent. Anna has her own issues which I didn’t want to touch upon because it would give away some of the plots of the volume but we’re seeing her overcome those issues little by little. I don’t expect a full turnaround in the next volume and, in fact, I would really hate it if that were the case. This seems like a slow-burn relationship build and I really love those. I want to see the two of them connect. I want to see Mari overcome her abrasiveness and accept Natsuki. She’s mislabeled him hard due to being associated with his friends who are known creeps in the school There’s so much to build on here that it’s just one of those stories that seem as if you can sit back, enjoy the laughs, and watch it unfold naturally.
These are the romance stories I love the most and it’s so refreshing to see one with an actual standout cast of characters rather than four cookie-cutter vanilla archetypes that you’ve seen a million times over. I was a bit surprised to see that this manga already ended in 2018 and that it had an anime back in 2016 (granted they were 13-minute episodes). But as they say… If I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me! Just from the first volume, I can really tell that I’m going to enjoy this one!
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media