My Best (♀) Butler Volume 1 Review

3 months ago 76
My Best Butler Volume One cover

Rui’s life has been one disaster after another lately: her single father recently went into debt, lost the family business/home, and has headed for Tokyo looking for work, leaving Rui and her brother Kyo to stay with family friends. Kyo has stopped going to school after confessing to another boy and being bullied about it, and Rui is worried about all the strain this is placing on their family friends as well. While looking for a job, Rui’s classmate tells her about a job where young men provide conversation to clients and Rui is so desperate that she’ll accept even something that sounds suspiciously like “compensated dating,” and crossdressing while doing so.

Predictably, her first client nearly drags her back to a hotel room when another passing young man intervenes and buys off her attacker. Much like Rui’s attacker, rich-boy Tohma doesn’t buy that Rui isn’t a girl at first, not because her crossdressing is so convincing but because he’s allergic to women! Rui is the first women in years he hasn’t had an allergic reaction to and it’s intriguing so, after hearing the rest of Rui’s circumstances, Tohma proposes that Rui become his new, live-in butler (in-training) and enroll at Tohma’s all-boys school as well to better serve him. Kyo is welcome to move in too and, with the amount of money being thrown around, Rui decides to accept for what will possibly be the wildest year of her life.

Believe it or not, those entire two paragraphs up there are just the first chapter of this overly trope-stuffed story (and at under 60 pages it’s not even the longest first chapter I’ve ever encountered in a manga).

But wait, there’s more (tropes)! The way that this comedy takes some queer-adjacent trope just feels extreme; the fact that Rui’s (gay) brother makes a better (crossdressing) maid than she does feels like another dig at Rui’s masculine appearance but considering how feminine Rui and every single actual male character in this series looks it comes off a little weird. There’s also Tohma, and now Rui’s, all-male school where all of the boys (in the humanities and arts track at least) identify as “masc” or “femme” in what seems to be a clear uke/seme sort of way and the teachers practically have gay sparkles coming off of them. It’s as if someone inverted the Class-S yuri trope and then turned it up to 11. I’m not laughing because it’s not nearly as unique (or funny) idea as Souko Masaki seems to think it is.

And then there’s Haruki, Tohma’s cousin and most likely rival for Rui’s affections (since I’m sure this series will become a love triangle) who has an introduction nearly as long as the one above. A teenager with anger issues so intense that background characters casually mention him putting people into the hospital, when he finds out Rui’s secret identity Haruki is happy that there’s secretly one women at the school and then claims that with women around he doesn’t go crazy and “snap” like he normally does (and honestly given the premise of this manga I’d believe that he was being completely truthful here). I’m usually not a fan of playboy characters but, since Rui is quite into him and his antics from the beginning of their relationship, I don’t mind it here and they have good chemistry together. I have no idea where this will go however, especially since I can’t shake the feeling that the endgame for this series is Rui and Tohma.

My Best Butler spread

Frankly I don’t know where this series is going at all; in many ways it reminds me of Ouran High School Host Club but with a far messier, overly and unnecessarily messy, premise. And to top everything off, the characters are suffering from a major case of same face syndrome, to the point where you have to be careful not to get Rui, Tohma, and Haruki mixed up with each other! If any of the background characters are meant to be reoccurring characters then that’s news to me, Masaki’s character designs are so bland that I can’t tell at all. Like there’s not even much in the way of shading/screen tones to give the characters different hair!

While stories of gender-bending antics are often my thing, My Best (♀) Butler was too much of a mess for me to get invested in and I think this is where I end my journey with this story.

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