Thigh High: Reiwa Hanamaru Academy is about a private school where “young blossoms enjoy their high school lives.” If that sounds feminine, that’s the point. But it’s an all-male school and all the boys wear women’s clothing.
Most of the boys wear miniskirts, but class rep Kiritani Yuuma wears a skirt that goes past his knees, and he can’t figure out how to make himself popular. Kiritani is often anxious, desperate to please, and usually self-sabotages his best efforts. The manga chapters are episodic as he attempts to make himself fit in and interacts with the different boys. He especially keeps his eye on Harumi, because even though Harumi isn’t big and buff like some of the other boys, he still fits in. Kiritani isn’t big and buff either, so he tries to figure out what it is about Harumi that makes him so special.
The manga never explains why this Japanese school has the dress code it does, because it doesn’t matter. The setup is spoofing many of the anxieties often experienced by teenage girls (feeling a need to fit in, feeling pressured to diet, being harassed about your clothes) except it happens to an all-male cast. Kiritani is even harassed because he doesn’t wear a bra and all the other boys do. That gets into all this talk about the importance of wearing bras that sounds reminiscent of real talks back in middle school.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for well-meaning Kiritani, but at the same time, the manga is very funny, and better than you might expect. It’s a gag manga through-and-through, with purposefully ridiculous scenarios and over-the-top reactions. And the boys usually do look pretty good in their miniskirts, bikinis and bras.
Thigh High receives a 13+ age rating because while it could go in many different directions with its setup, it’s mostly just humor about feeling like an outsider at school. In this sense, it can be relatable to just about anyone. Thigh High: Reiwa Hanamaru Academy is a fun take on growing up and how awkward it can be, no matter what you wear.
Story & Art: Kotobuki
Publisher: Seven Seas
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.