Initially I thought I wouldn’t write a review for this one but then I went “well, why not!” considering my last post. People always request I review more stuff that has actually been scanlated so here you go. Also, now that the book finally arrived in the mail I can do my own scans and feel a little less uncomfortable since I won’t have to use someone else’s. And also, the extra story was so charming that I can’t not talk about it. So.
Konbini-kun is Junko’s fifth book, but her first through Chara. It was only released a week ago so it’s hard to tell how fan reception is, but on Chill Chill it doesn’t have anything less than ‘moe moe’ status and on Amazon.jp it has yet to get anything other than five stars. That’s pretty damn good. And from what I recall, English fandom seems to have fully embraced the story in Konbini-kun as well.
The story goes like this: Nakaba-kun get’s a job at a convenience store after getting a pity!offer from his uncle to get him out of the house. The thing is, due to an undisclosed incident he’s trapped himself inside ever since middle school and he’s never attended even a day of high school even though he’s already 16 years old. So, realizing how much he’s making his family worry, Nakaba decides to take this job and pump up his social and life skills and start anew! However, there’s one catch: his new coworker, Yamai, is absolutely terrifying and intimidating. With a towering body and a sour face and a personality to match, he’s exactly the type Nakaba has the hardest time dealing with.
But that all changes one day when Nakaba witnesses Yamai saving a kitten that’s stranded in the road. It’s like a classic scene from a manga: caring teenage yankee saves innocent hurt kitten at the risk of his own life. Yamai tries to play it tough the next day but loses his cool when Nakaba confesses that he saw Yamai’s random act of kindness—but his attitude does a one-eighty when Nakaba says he thinks he can give the kitten a home. Next thing he knows Yamai is in Nakaba’s room with the cat, and they’re talking like friends.
But that’s before Nakaba’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of a group of teenage boys from his previous school who appear to now go to school with Yamai. The cat is out of the bag and now Yamai knows exactly what happened to Nakaba: he fell in love with another male classmate and was the laughingstock of the male population of their school. Terrified of their ridicule, Nakaba stopped attending—and now Yamai knows all about it. But even though Nakaba is so horrified by this fact that he doesn’t want to face Yamai anymore, Yamai’s reaction is pretty underwhelming. “So that’s all that happened?” he says nonchalantly. And then the next day when those boys show up at the store again to bother Nakaba, Yamai beats them up and almost gets fired.
Nakaba can’t help it—he starts falling in love with Yamai. But with his feelings growing more and more each day, he gets uncomfortable facing Yamai and starts to feel like he’s betraying Yamai by seeing him that way. Nonetheless, since Nakaba is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve his feelings are pretty damn obvious. He jumps every time his fingers brush against Yamai’s hand, and he stares at Yamai every time he doesn’t seem to be paying attention to Nakaba. But that doesn’t mean Yamai doesn’t notice.
With various other scenes such as Nakaba being apologized to by the boy he used to have a crush on, and the growing love between Nakaba and Yamai, this is overall a very sweet story of getting over your fears and moving on with your life.
Then there’s only one side story, with Itou and Mahiro. Mahiro is only in high school but was able to catch himself a gorgeous six-years-older boyfriend who is a salaryman, Itou. But more and more, when they meet up Itou seems sleepy and uninterested. Mahiro asks the advice of a classmate who then goes on to say Mahiro’s lover is likely cheating on him, causing Mahiro to become insecure—and this isn’t helped by the fact that one night he calls Itou only for another man to pick up the phone. Mahiro rushes to Itou’s apartment the next day and, sure enough, he’s with another man. Which causes a huge argument. From there, they don’t contact each other at all no matter how much they want to—that is, until Mahiro runs into the man he caught Itou with and is told Itou could use some loving care due to being incredibly fatigued from work. It turns out Itou was definitely not cheating—he’s only a hard-working salaryman trying his best every day. Mahiro goes to Itou’s bedside and they’re able to make up and fall asleep together. The end! Suuuper cute.
Personally, I really love this book! It’s just so ridiculously sweet—Nakaba-kun is the most adorable character type ever, unsure and afraid but always wanting to work hard for those he loves. I also liked how, even though he was a shut-in, Junko didn’t make Nakaba absolutely clueless about social interaction—just very, very timid about it. It made him much more relateable as a character. Yamai, of course, was also incredibly charming. I mean, who isn’t a sucker for those ‘bad boy on the outside, sweet and caring young man on the inside’ types? These two were just too cute, as separate characters and as a couple.
I loved how Yamai knew instantly that Nakaba was in love with him, and he was just such a straightforward character that he didn’t beat around the bush about it. And it was also so charming how he didn’t even fret about it for a second. He found Nakaba cute as well, as so he went for it. No worries. I think he’s exactly what Nakaba needed in a friend and lover: someone who wouldn’t have huge inner struggles about his feelings and wouldn’t play games. They’re opposites, with Yamai focusing more on logic and Nakaba focusing more on feelings. But in the end they balance each other out so perfectly that this doesn’t hinder their relationship in the least.
Also, can I just admit I’m happy Chara let Junko go at least vaguely all-out with the H scenes? Usually Chara is a publication that’s uh… really vanilla. So I was shocked when I read chapter five and saw it was pretty much dedicated to them having sex for the first time. Granted, it wasn’t nearly as hardcore as Junko’s usual work, with all the actual anatomy being hidden by shadows and Junko just alluding to what was happening instead of just drawing it out. But it was still really enjoyable nonetheless.
Overall I really loved this book. It’s getting harder and harder to pick a favorite from everything Junko has released—I just love everything she does. Like Kojima Lalako, she’s just one of those artists who can really do no wrong in my opinion. And Konbini-kun is more proof of that fact.