Natsuki, Tomoya, Keiichi and Tsuyoshi may be very different from one another, but there’s one thing these friends have in common: They’re in the halcyon days of youth and they plan to make the most of it. Beyond hanging out together and getting over the recent stress of exams, the main way they pass the time is, naturally, in the ever-tangled pursuit of romance. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it’s a little awkward, but it’s always entertaining in Minami Mizuno’s Rainbow Days manga.
When we first meet Natsuki, Tomoya and Keiichi—Tsuyoshi is off somewhere else sweating his Comiket deadline—they’re all in relationships. Actually, Tomoya is juggling five and Keiichi is a little too open about his sadomasochistic recreational activities with his current partner. Meanwhile, Natsuki is trying to figure out how to best please his very first girlfriend, though we soon find out she isn’t all she’s cracked up to be. Before we know it, and for entirely separate reasons, our leads are single again, and that’s when the fun really begins.
It doesn’t take long for Natsuki’s loss to turn into a potential gain, as he quickly finds another girl to be infatuated with. To help him along the way, his always questionable friends attempt to push him in the right direction to woo this potential new love interest, but can they really be relied upon to make him look like anything other than a lovelorn doofus?
The answer to that question isn’t cut and dry, because Rainbow Days holds pretty true to the way many high school boys play off one another. There’s an unpredictable nature surrounding the interactions between our various leads, and they’ll do anything to crack one another up, often at the expense of Natsuki. None of it is truly cold-hearted or malicious, though. These are just kids having fun while they still have time to enjoy it all.
Beyond the attempted romances, Rainbow Days is at its heart about a very specific, if brief, window of time that inevitably leaves an indelible impression on one’s life. Mizuno’s artwork is suitably approachable in that regard, immediately bringing readers into the friend group with attractive designs and warm layouts. Volume one gets sweeter as it goes along and we see more more of Natsuki’s budding relationship and the memorable moments that pop up along the way. There are also a bunch of charming author notes from Mizuno throughout, and the first volume closes with a brief but fun side-story.
If you’re looking for a series to cozy up next to over the holidays, Rainbow Days is off to a good start. The series inspired a TV anime adaptation by Production Reed and director Tomihiko Okubo, so if you’re familiar with that you’ll also find a nice opportunity here to see where it all began.
Story and Art: Minami Mizuno
Publisher: VIZ Media
Translator: Max Greenway