Author: Tachibana Venio
Illustrator: Kitahata Akeno
Since the English title is printed on the cover, I will leave the title in English but the kanji reads: Shiritsu Sakuraoka Gakuen Koutou Ryou. For BL lovers, all boys private school dormitory = heaven because it means there many opportunities for beautiful young boys to unleash their adrenaline on each other, for the better or the worse . This is the first book in the Sakuroka series but it actually takes place after the second novel. The funny thing about this series is that depending on which book you read first, your impression of the character might change. I was forced to read the first book then the second because when I read the first, the second was not on sale yet. However, I personally recommend reading it the other way round because that will make the first book more exciting but that’s just my own preference.
The first book took place when Karasuma Asahi and Itachi Kouki were second year students at Sakuraoka High. The kanji of the first name of Karasuma actually means “crow” and that’s why some people just call him “karasu” or “crow”. For the rest of this review, I’ll just call him “Karasu”😀. As for Itachi, most people refer to him as the “prince” because some of his ancestors were from Russia and it seemed the Russian blood in him was quite strong so he looked more European than average Japanese. Also, since he was quite “capable” and popular at school, he got the title and I’ll stick with this title throughout my review. Please note that the “naming” is quite important in this series and so I’ll also stress a bit on the names of each character.
The first story was really quite simple. Karasu had transformed from a normal student who would smile to a rather sullen and isolated individual. The cause of the transformation was the many sexual harrassments he got from his roommates . For some strange reasons, he seemed to be quite attractive among males and after four reports of him being harrassed, there was rumor that he “seduced” his roommates and so he finally moved in with the head of the dormitory, Himegi Shinobu but then rumors broke out that he “did” it with Himegi as well. That concluded his first year. In the second year, he shared room with a very cute boy Mio Junya and Mio became his only friend in the dormitory. One day, on his way home he saw prince waiting for the rain to subside. Karasu loved rain and so he gave prince his umbrella and went home dancing in the rain. The prince chased after him and in the end both got themselves wet by the time they returned to the dormitory. When Himegi, Mio, and the “demon of Sakuraoka HIgh Dormitory” Matsushima saw the two returning together, Matsushima sarcastically remarked that this time, Karasu had eyes on the “prince”. Karasu was upset and he did not go into the bath with the prince. Actually the other students also warned the prince of Karasu’s notorious reputation for “seducing” men but the prince paid no attention. In fact, the next day when Karasu got ill, the prince came to visit him. Gradually, the prince and Karasu became closer and closer because the prince treated Karasu very nicely. The prince was popular and many “guys” would also confess to him but he instead confessed to Karasu, wishing to go out with him. Karasu agreed but Karasu himself was also in danger. That was because one of the guys who formerly tried to rape him, Mitsumizou was still angry at Karasu and was trying to find a way to get revenge at Karasu. In fact, Mitsumizou joined forces with Shouno to attack Karasu. Shouno had a huge crush on Matsushima and since Matsushima openly declared he hated Karasu because Karasu wanted to be protected by other people all the time during lunch break one day, Shouno also hated Karasu. Together, the two got another two boys (one from another school) to attack Karasu. Unfortunately, Mio returned at the time and so the guys knocked out Mio and tried to rape him in front of Karasu. Matsushima then barged into the room and ordered Shouno to go report the incident to the head of the dormitory. Unable to refuse, Shouno did as told and in the end, the four boys were disciplined. However, when trying to save Mio, Matsushima said the prince approached Karasu because he was a member of the fuuki inkai (or disciplinary committe) and Karasu was a “trouble maker”. Karasu’s heart broke when he heard this “truth” and so he broke off the relationship with the prince because he thought it was not “love” but purely “sympathy”, something he did not think would fit a romantic relationship with the prince.
Things almost came to a halt and just when Karasu finally started smiling again, it all collapsed and he returned to his old sullen self. However, Himegi tried to help the couple by making the prince the next head of the dormitory after his graduation and Karasu the “checker” of the dormitory, someone who had counseled students, offered them advice, etc. Since the checker would usually share a room with the head of the dormitory, that meant Karasu would share the room with the prince. However, the icy relationship between the two made living together “hell”. Worse was the fact that Karasu overheard Mio’s phone conversation and mistook he was having an affair with the prince. Sank to the bottom, Himegi had no choice but to call Mio, Karasu, and the prince to his office. He then told Karasu that he did not ask the prince to approach Karasu as a member of the disciplinary committee. The prince approached Karasu because he fell in love with Karasu, something which the prince would soon have to make clear. Also, what Matsushima said was all a misunderstanding because when Mio saw Himegi asking the prince a favor, he thought it was about Karasu. Truth was it was Himegi was asking the prince to be the next head of the dormitory🙄. Himegi also told Karasu that the “love conversation” he overheard, it was between him and Mio as they had been dating each other since middle school. When all the misunderstandings cleared up, karasu finally confessed to the prince and a happy H and happy end .
This is Tachibana sensei’s novel debut and it also made her instantly famous because of the unique way she writes. Her writing style is unique because she’s not the type who wastes words. She is very precise and uses a minimal of adjectives. Yet, she manages extremely well to create a beautiful, transparent, and romantic mood. In short, her novel is a bit closer to ordinary “literature” and she should fare very well not only in the popular literature genre but in traditional literature as well. Her story is also simple and clean, which is perfect for a school setting because what really can happen in a boy’s dormitory that’s isolated from the world? Not much aside from sexual harrassment and a few lovely or tragic romances.<br><br>With regard to the characterization, I’ll talk a little more later but I must point out that one reason why I suggest reading the second book before the first because Himegi and Mio play a pretty important role in this novel and so if you read that novel first, you will have fewer “question marks” when it comes to this novel. If you like question marks, very well. If not, reading that first will make life a lot easier.
I used to like Karasuma when I was reading the first novel because he was a bit helpless and tragic and I like the sullen types. HOWEVER, after reading the second novel, my impression of him altered because I felt he was TOO USELESS. Compared to him, Matsushima who was in a similar condition was much “better” and you will know why when I discuss the second novel. Having said that though, I think I understand why he was always attacked by his roommate. This boy was really “seductive”. I’m not sure if it’s because of Kitahata sensei’s illustrations, he looked very seductive in bed. Looking at that face and the “I’m a princess, please help me” aura he released, he was also partly to blame.
As for “the prince”, what can I say, he’s pretty “flat” because he’s not really saying enough. I don’t understand why he doesn’t try to justify himself more when Karasu broke off the relationship with him. If I were in his position, I would try harder to solve the problem and not to leave it to Mio and Himegi to solve the problem. He probably was just as useless as Karasu (this hopeless couple). However, he’s extremely good looking so that adds a few points.
Somehow the name Shinobu forever resonates with the Shinobu in Honey & Clover for me but his personality is not similar at all. In fact, Himegi is your “perfect man”. He’s talented, he’s gorgeous looking, he’s smart, he’s popular, and he is kind to everyone. But when he’s your perfect man, he’s as well everyone’s perfect man (hint hint). In this novel, he pretty much is the key person to unite the prince and the crow (sweat) and so we still don’t know much about him… but we will in the second novel.
CUTE!!!! And that’s all I have to say about Mio. Mio surprisingly is the type who’s cute and yet likable. I usually don’t like sweet and cute guys and go for the sullen type but Mio here is very likable. My problem is the “smoking” bit… I mean he’s so cute and angelic (the image) but he smokes three cigarettes in such a short time (sweat). Sorry, I’m anti-smoking and I really hope he will quit ASAP. Mio also has a talent to like people who’re hated by the crowd, like the sullen Karasu or the “demon” Matsushima, whom I’ll describe next.
I ADORE MATSUSHIMA even though everybody (both students at Sakuraoka) as well as the audience HATE HIM. Of course, he get BIG FANS (like myself) but the majority dislike him. I suppose it’s because he’s a bit too “DEVILISH”. From the first scene to his last, he was hurting Karasu over and over again and he was the one who seemed to drive the couple a step backward everytime. HOWEVER, the truth is Matsushima is actually very likable (especially if you have read the second novel). I will reserve my opinion for Matsushima when I describe the second novel. As for the voice, I pick Kamiya Hiroshi not because his voice fits but because HE IS A LIVING VERSION OF MATSUSHIMA (just a milder and kinder version, laughs). Like Matsushima, he’s also got a “POSIONOUS TONGUE” which made his fellow seiyuu Suzumura call him the “demon on earth” (sweat) (Source: Cyberphase Radio #3). However, deep inside Matsushima is really kind and gentle (trust me on that). I adore Matsushima and frankly, everyone seemed to have forgotten but it’s not Himegi or the prince who came to Karasu and Mio’s rescue when the two were in trouble, it was Matsushima! Equally weak physically as Mio and Karasu, he managed not only to protect himself but others because of his notorious reputation (sweat). He also got the perfect queen aura as reflected by the examinations from the disciplinary committee. I’m a sucker for men like him and I must say without him, I might not even have liked this series a third as much as I like it now. Matsushima’s my star and so don’t hate him, please (laugh).
As I mentioned before, the superb writing style coupled with an interesting cast of characters (actually the only fascination for me is Matsushima *ahem*) makes this a very pleasant read. The story may not be the most original or creative but as a debut work, Tachibana sensei has a lot of potential. I’ve already become her fan (because of Matsushima) and hopefully in the third novel, Matsushima will be the main and hopefully his story will be the best! I’ll EMS the novel I swear should it be out. I’m very looking forward to seeing Matsushima mellow!!