A title can throw you for a loop sometimes. If you’re like me and you’re reading library usually consists of such hard to decipher titles as “Chainsaw Man” or “Spy X Family “, Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun can be quite the problem. Who’s tied up? WHERE? And that cover doesn’t give too much away either. Bar a few positive remarks on the grapevine, and from all accounts a fairly well-received anime adaptation, I was relatively unaware of what I was getting into before cracking this volume open. However, sometimes the best stories are the one that surprises you. And, in just five chapters, this volume certainly did that! Still, the mystery remains, is Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun worth reading?
This school has seven mysteries
Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun takes place in a seemingly ordinary High School that is, in fact, a haven for the supernatural. More specifically, the seven supernaturals, known as the mysteries of the school. Hanako himself is one of these seven mysteries, found in the third-floor bathroom of the girl’s toilet. You can summon him by knocking three times and calling his names.
The fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on what page you’re on, really) soul who invokes him at the start of this story is our protagonist, Nene Yashiro. A lovestruck 1st year willing to try anything to win the heart of her true love. Yashiro is desperate at this stage, to the extent that she’s willing to summon a spooky legend to help her achieve her dreams. Hanako isn’t exactly what she expects, seeing how he isn’t a girl as the legend suggest. However, the two still strike up a budding partnership nonetheless.
The unlikely duo tries every conventional method to steal some hearts, even a few unconventional techniques too. Of course, things take a turn for the super-supernatural. Yashiro learns some harsh life lessons and the pair find themselves bound to each other in an entirely unexpected manner! In the course of just a few chapters, Mangaka Aidalro successfully crafts charming chemistry between these two. As Hanako’s playful and mischievous ways constantly bristle with kind-hearted Yashiro’s patience. But just what does Hanako want with our heroine?
It’s more like we’re friends, right?
Our boy Hanako is a riddle, mystery and enigma all rolled into one. And it seems poor Yashiro is stuck with him for the time being. It’s not all bad, though. A sweet friendship between the pair starts to blossom, as they encounter wacky “Monster of the week” scenarios with a sprinkle of supernatural spookiness for good measure.
Initially, you might think a smitten high school girl might not be suited for supernatural showdowns. However, Yashiro has quite a pivotal role to play in all these spooky shenanigans. You see, the supernaturals of the High School are governed by the rumours that surround them. They can’t help but act the way they do, even if it’s harmful to others.
As a human generating these rumours, Yashiro has the ability to change them, and the nature of the supernaturals in the process. It’s quite an interesting dynamic, as it makes Yashiro omnipotent against these supernaturals if she wanted to be. Thankfully, her adorable self is content with changing the rumours so the supernaturals and highschoolers can co-exist in peaceful harmony. Yashiro has no dark designs for Hanako, though the same might not be able to be said for him!
Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun volume 1 spoilers
About midway through the volume, Hanako faces a dangerous foe in the form of Kou Minamoto. A fiery little underclassman to Yashiro, and, more importantly, a descendant of legendary exorcist Minamoto No Yorimtsu. He’s a fun little fluffball, and his driven personality and hotheaded nature would make him a perfect Shōnen protagonist in another manga. But this is Hanako’s manga, of course.
Minamoto reveals his family was responsible for Hanako’s sealing, and that Hanako’s signature knife was used to kill in a previous life. Hanako then effortlessly dispatches the rookie, before playing some mind games with Yashiro. If it wasn’t clear before, it’s crystal now: There’s a lot more to Hanako than initially meets the eye. I’m very intrigued to see what else lurks behind that pleasant smile that he wears. I hope we see in future volumes.
It’s time for class
The volume wraps with the most challenging foe for our trio yet (Minamoto decides to tag along to keep on eye on Hanako, much to Hanako’s chagrin). The latest Supernatural they face is also the most dangerous. Their crimes are far more concerning than a few misplaced belongings. We also get a little backstory on the history behind their legend. Aidalro does a fantastic job on cranking up the tension towards our cliffhanger, which certainly makes for a thrilling read.
Haven taken the time to establish our core trio throughout the volume, throwing them in a dangerous situation now that we care about them is a simple, but effective move. Jujutsu Kaisen Volume 1 pulled a similar manoeuvre, and I loved it there too. Can’t these cute little supernatural sleuths (and Hanako, when he has that cute facade on at least) catch a break? At least it works in keeping you hooked for volume 2!
Is Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun volume 1 worth reading?
It’s a thumbs up from me! Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun is fun little supernatural series. It’s super cute where it wants to be and super spooky everywhere else. It also helps that the art that depicts both the cuteness and the spookiness pulls it off effortlessly, as I hope the panels above have shown. It’s a fine line to strike a balance on, but Aidalro executes it effortlessly.
My lasting impression is from Hanako. The intrigue on the mysteries that surround him would be enough alone to keep me invested for more. The fact that a charming and hilarious heroine flanks him in Yashiro and a boisterous discount protagonist in Minamoto is just the icing on the cake. Count me in for more spooky surprises and too-cute chuckles!