Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how we feel about someone. Is it friendship, love, or enmity? It is even more complicated when you are young. In Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1, two high schoolers in a senpai and kohai relationship discover they may be more than friends. At least, that is the case on Kagi’s side. Created by Shou Harusono with translation by Leighann Harvey and lettering by DK, the Yen Press manga has similar beats to other rom-com stories. Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1 takes time building their friendship as they room together for the year but has nothing memorable about their relationship or either character.

Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1 Begins In A Good Spot

This volume has four chapters plus a bonus chapter. The book begins with readers in the middle of things since they have been living together for a while. Hirano and Kagiura’s relationship is less romantic in this first volume. At a glance, it seems more like a parental relationship. Hirano always cares for Kagiura from waking him up for school or training to caring for him when he is sick. The flashbacks are a bit helpful in showing Kagiura’s initial impression of Hirano. He thought Hirano was a thug because of his piercings and dyed blonde hair. But this volume shows Kagiura’s realization that he might like Hirano. 

Who Are They Minus Their Affection

Still, their relationship, especially on Kagiura’s part, is more possessive than anything. After all, if someone keeps caring and looking out for you, you do not want to lose them. Kagiura’s crush is innocent and prone to mistakes. So it is unclear if he likes Hirano or just wants to keep Hirano close to care for him. There is less comedy in Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1. The volume tries to build reader’s attachment. As such, they spend a lot of time together. And when apart, they think about each other which is cute, but there is little else. 

Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1 manga cover of Hirano and Kagiura seating by each other at a school desk.
Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1 from Yen press cover art

While sweet, I did not feel as invested in the characters because nothing about either stood out. Kagiura is the person trying to hide their feelings. Hirano is the one who does not notice the other’s feelings. Some moments reminded me of other series, like when Hirano is on a class trip and wondering what gift to bring back to Kagiura. That gave me Nodame Cantabile flashbacks of Shinichi Chiaki figuring out a gift to bring Nodame that does not scream girlfriend. 

Side Characters Have More Personality

The scenes with other characters, Masato Hanzawa and Juuya Niibashi, are memorable and more enjoyable. Because Juuya knows how Kagiura feels about Hirano, and Masato suspects how he feels. Masato is the insider who knows more than one of the main characters, but it is also unclear whether he is a good guy. Though his character could be more precocious than anything, not enough happens in Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1 to be sure.  

I am never a big fan and stories that are just romance, but even less-so when there is nothing about the characters outside of their love interest. Hirano and Kagiura Volume 1 delivers a BL story that drags for the most part, with side characters standing out. When Hirano and Kagiura are not together, they often think about each other, which is a bit dull. The story needs more than sweetness and blushing to get readers rooting for the pair. Yes, Hirano’s laidback attitude that does not notice Kagiura’s feelings could reach levels of Lovely Complex hilarity, but nothing else about him stands out so far. Fingers crossed the next volume steps it up. 

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