Readers may remember the name Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took In a High School Runaway thanks to the popular anime adaptation that aired in the Spring 2021 season. Now the manga adaptation is also making its way to the English market, thanks to One Peace Books, and I’m here to check out Volume 1!
The story begins with 26-year-old Yoshida walking home from work, having just been rejected by the woman he’s in love with and gotten drunk to drown the misery. On his way, he comes across a lone high school girl called Sayu sitting under a lamppost. With nowhere else to go and no friends to room with, Sayu offers to sleep with Yoshida in exchange for being able to stay with him. Of course, as an adult with no feelings toward a high schooler, Yoshida instantly refuses her advances but he does let her stay with him for fear of her putting herself in danger with whoever might happen upon her next.
From here, Yoshida suggests to Sayu that she stay with him so he can give her a safe environment. All he asks is that she earns her keep by doing the housework while he’s out at work. Sayu accepts but, given her past experiences, she can’t fathom why Yoshida would let her stay without wanting sex in return.
Of course, Yoshida hasn’t made this decision lightly, he knows if anyone finds out about Sayu staying with him he could get into a lot of trouble – including being accused of kidnapping. But he can’t just leave her to fend for herself, so instead, he talks to his coworker Hashimoto about how to look after her and find a way to get her back on her feet.
Volume 1 of Higehiro spends most of its pages introducing us to its large cast of characters. Not only do we have Yoshida, Sayu and Hashimoto but there is also Yuzuha Mishima (Yoshida’s trainee at work) and Airi Goto who is Yoshida’s boss and love interest. The cast is varied and although all three of the female characters are obviously attracted to Yoshida, they all have things going on in their lives that don’t just revolve around him – which is important.
Sayu, as the central member of the group holding the whole story together, certainly has the most depth. As of the end of Volume 1, we still don’t know why she’s a runaway nor what her life has been like up to this point, but mangaka Imaru Adachi leaves plenty of hints to help us piece it together. The art also does a good job of showing Sayu as a happy-go-lucky young girl, but there is always the feeling that her smile is fake which is something that is finally pointed out to her toward the end of the book.
I also appreciate the fact Yoshida so strongly rejects Sayu’s sexual advances because, while there are some suggestive scenes in the book, you know it’s never going anywhere and is used instead to show that Sayu’s way of thinking is down to her past experiences. Even Hashimoto never once suggests Yoshida should or could start feeling anything more for Sayu than wanting to help her.
Having successfully dodged any risk of a blossoming romance, Higehiro can focus on being a character drama. As I said earlier, Sayu has a lot of depth to her which in turn means the whole series has much to offer as we get to the bottom of both her story and how Yoshida is going to grow from the experience of looking after her. The only downside to the manga compared to the anime (and I’d guess the original light novel) is that Yoshida’s character design looks more like a teenager than someone in his mid-twenties. It doesn’t seem as if Adachi struggles with drawing male characters because Hashimoto certainly does look like an adult, so I’m not entirely sure what’s going on there. Having said that, it’s not a major issue, it’s just something that threw me off in a couple of scenes.
As previously mentioned, Higehiro Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to One Peace Books. The translation reads well and the only minor issue I had with the localisation is the fact the lettering sometimes blends in with darker scenes making it difficult to read at times. The manga is on-going in Japan at five volumes and One Peace currently have Volume 2 scheduled for an English release in December. Kadokawa will also be releasing Volume 1 of the original light novels in October if you’re interested in checking out the source material.
Overall, Higehiro takes on a difficult subject matter and manages to handle it well without falling into any pitfalls such as forbidden love. Although this instalment spends a lot of its time introducing us to the cast, it also offers just enough to keep the reader interested and eager to find out how Sayu ended up in the position she’s in. Definitely one worth checking out!