Before Toilet-bound Hanako-kun became the series we’ve come to know and love, it first had a three-chapter mini-series that ran in Monthly GFantasy in 2014. Those chapters have now been combined into a new Volume 0, which gives readers the chance to see the origins of these characters for themselves. Does it prove worthwhile? Let’s find out!
The story begins in the same way as the main series, with the protagonist Nene Yashiro looking into the rumours of a school mystery. It’s said that a female ghost called Hanako-san haunts the third-floor girls’ bathroom and will grant your wish should you find her. Nene seeks out Hanako-san and is surprised to find the ghost is actually a boy known as Hanako-kun, but that doesn’t deter her from making her wish…
As it turns out, Nene’s first love dumped her because of her “chunky radish legs” and now she wants to curse him to death! Hanako-kun is more than happy to grant this wish and sets out to kill the ex-boyfriend, but Nene quickly realises that what she wanted wasn’t to have her wish granted but someone to talk to about the situation.
Chapter 2 switches focus to Nene becoming friends with Hanako-kun and they also introduce Kou. As in the main series, Kou is an exorcist who hopes to exorcise Hanako-kun before he can bring harm to any of the students. The two fight bitterly, but perhaps Nene can prove a worthwhile intermediator who can prevent them from harming one another.
The third and final chapter is more light-hearted and tells the story of Hanako-kun granting a different wish for Nene, one in which she wishes she was able to see the supernatural spirits around her. Hanako-kun warns her that having this ability may put her in danger, but Nene insists on it regardless!
While the relationships and personalities of our cast are a little different to what they eventual become, it’s clear that the things that made Toilet-bound Hanako-kun special were already present even in this mini-series. Mangaka team AidaIro’s artwork and storytelling may not be as polished, but what’s on display here is still unique.
This is especially true of the artwork which retains the busy style of Aidalro’s later work where there is a lot jammed into each panel, but it never feels like too much. The thick outlines used for the characters make them easily recognisable at a glance and the action is easy to follow because of this style.
The biggest change is that Hanako-kun doesn’t seem to have the same emotionally charged backstory as his later counterpart does, but for a mini-series that has no time to explore it, that’s not a bad thing. Nene and Kou are more or less the same as their later selves, right down to Nene hating people teasing her about her legs (a gag that I have always enjoyed). Even the rabbit-like supernaturals called Mokke make an appearance and are up to no good, as usual.
Being so similar to the main series means this is an easy read for those already familiar with the world or setting. With so few differences this simply feels like more of Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, which is no bad thing. Another incentive for fans of Aidalro’s to pick up this release is the inclusion of an unrelated one-shot called My Dear Living Dead.
My Dear Living Dead is from 2013, a year before the team started work on Toilet-bound Hanako-kun. The story is set in a world where zombies roam and the protagonist is a necromancer sent on missions from the church to eliminate them. This is a much darker story than I’d have expected from Aidalro, but it proves engrossing all the same. The artwork for this one isn’t as good as in Toilet-bound Hanako-kun (either the main series or these three chapters) but it’s still very detailed and captures the fight scenes and emotions of the cast well. If you’re a fan of Aidalro’s work then this is worth the price of admission on its own, especially since it takes up just under half the volume by itself.
Toilet-bound Hanako-kun Volume 0 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley, who also work on the main series. The translation reads well and there are useful translation notes included at the end of the book. Also included in this release is a colour page at the beginning.
Overall, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun proves itself an attractive purchase for fans of both the series and Aidalro’s work as a whole. There is plenty of fun to be had in seeing the humble start of this fantasy series and once you’re done with that, the included one-shot will be there to provide something completely different.