Having received an anime adaptation earlier in the year, Pretty Boy Detective Club is sure to be a name you’ve come across once or twice. Vertical has already been releasing the original light novels for the series, but now they’ve also brought the manga to the West! Does it prove an interesting read? Let’s find out!
Mayumi Doujima is a second-year student at Ybiwa Private Academy and she’s on the hunt for a star she saw as a child. We meet Doujima on the day before her fourteenth birthday, which is a day our protagonist has been dreading for some time now.
The star Doujima thought she saw ten years ago inspired her to become an astronaut, but now, unable to find it again, she’s been told by her parents to give up her dream, should the star not reappear before her fourteenth birthday.
It’s just as Doujima is about to give up on her search that she’s approached by Manabu Sotoin from the Pretty Boy Detective Club. Manabu asks Doujima if she’d like the club’s help in finding the star she seeks, to which our protagonist agrees – after all, she has nothing to lose at this point.
The club is made up of five members: Manabu, Hyota, Michiru, Nagahiro and Sosaku. The group are the most popular boys at Mayumi’s school (apart from Manabu who’s actually from the nearby elementary school) and are known for being involved in a variety of crazy problems. To Doujima it all seems a bit shady, especially when the rules of the club mean to be a part you must be (1) pretty, (2) a boy and (3) a detective.
Before Doujima has much of a chance to rethink her decision to ask for the club’s help, they whisk her away to the scene where she first saw the star. As eccentric as the members might be, Doujima is impressed by their earnest feelings and how willing they are to put an incredible amount of effort into finding the star. Slowly but surely, she begins to become friends with these boys.
As previously mentioned, Pretty Boy Detective Club began as a light novel series written by NISIOISIN. This manga adaptation has been handled by Suzuka Oda and I have to say that I think this is a better introduction to the series compared to the novels. This is partly because the visuals help you keep track of who all the characters are, but the story is also well suited to a more visual medium (as the anime proved).
On the whole, I like Oda’s art, which is busy and has to fit around quite a lot of dialogue boxes while showing off these attractive characters. There are some nice uses of two-page spreads in this release and even outside of those, each panel is always nicely detailed with plenty to keep your attention. However, the most interesting thing about the artwork is actually how different the character designs are, compared to both the light novels and the anime.
Despite being in middle school, the cast all look like older teens. They’re certainly better built and moderately more attractive than they were in either the light novels or the anime, which perhaps make sense for a manga that ran in a shojo magazine. It does take a while to get used to if you’re otherwise familiar with the series, but if this was your first time experiencing Pretty Boy Detective Club then it certainly won’t pose any problems.
Volume 1 of Pretty Boy Detective Club comes to the West thanks to Vertical and has been translated by Winifred Bird, who also works on the original light novels. The translation reads well with no issues to note and having the same translator helps in keeping character voices consistent with the original novels.
This book itself is an omnibus of the first two volumes of the Japanese release, which works well since they effectively cover the whole of the first novel. The sad thing is that the series is complete in Japan at five volumes, which means we’ll probably only see one or two more of the original stories in manga form. Vertical have Volume 2 of the series scheduled for release in October with the third and final English instalment in November.
Overall, if you’ve yet to experience Pretty Boy Detective Club in any form then this manga proves a perfectly adequate starting point. However, existing fans may find it distracting, given how different the cast look and, as fun as this initial story is in the medium, I’m not sure the series, on the whole, is all that promising with so few volumes left to cover the future content.
A free preview of the manga can be found on Kodansha’s website here.