That Wolf-Boy is Mine!
私のオオカミくん (Watashi no Oookami-kun)
Shoujo – Drama, romance, supernatural
4 Volumes (complete)
Kodansha Comics USA
Komugi has transferred to a new school in hopes she won’t end up a social outcast again. That’s going to be hard to do when one of the school idols, Yū, suddenly announces she smells good and keeps sniffing her! But just as Komugi and Yū start to grow close, she discovers his secret: he’s actually a wolf!
That Wolf-Boy is Mine! has been compared to Fruits Basket a lot. Personally, I think it’s closer to The Demon Prince of Momochi House. Yes, Fruits Basket also involves a group of animal boys (and girls), but Tohru was more saint-like and Kyo very hot-blooded. The Demon Prince of Momochi House, like That Wolf-Boy is Mine!, has a small set of guys who are really supernatural creatures, and, like Aoi, Yū is a relaxed, friendly guy who doesn’t understand the concept of personal space. Komugi is not as energetic as Himari, but both girls want to try to just be friends with the ones they love.
Anyway, moving on.
- Girl moves to a new town.
- Girl meets boy who is actually a wolf.
- Girl finds out his friends are also animals.
- Girl falls in love with wolf who rejects her.
- Confusion arises.
The end. (Although you can pretty much guess what #6 would be.)
My first impression of That Wolf-Boy is Mine! is that it’s a one volume series spread out over four. Well, my suspicions were confirmed when Nogiri mentions the series was supposed to end after the first volume. Each volume — nay, each chapter — has parts that just scream they were part of an extended one-shot, and other parts that are superfluous to extend the series. If I were to tear the books apart, I bet I could paste together That Wolf-Boy is Mine! into a single volume without losing much of the story.
Take the love triangle for instance. Much of the middle volumes is spent on Yū trying to figure out how he feels about Komugi as she spends more time with his friend Rin. It’s a standard setup, but it takes almost two full volumes for Yū to come to a decision about what to do about Komugi. This is where I am torn on That Wolf-Boy is Mine!: I don’t find it too unreasonable for a supernatural creature with a sad past to take a while to realize how he feels about a girl. Komugi at least tries to just be friends, and the manga hints at deeper mysteries surrounding Yū and friends’ guardian. On the other hand, Rin never really had a chance considering the manga’s title. Plus, was there anything in these volumes that had to be deeply explored, anything that couldn’t have been explained in a chapter or two? Answer: no.
That’s why I’m mixed on this series. That Wolf-Boy is Mine! is cute, but it’s kind of at an awkward length. The series is about a volume or two too long to be a really quick, relatively inexpensive series where a lot of the usual tropes and coincidences can be forgiven; it’s also a volume or two too short to be a more in-depth manga, one where it could have had Komugi truly interact with all four ayakashi and make her declaration in Volume 3 actually carry some weight. Nothing in the story is groundbreaking (heck, Komugi and Yū of course end up as seatmates, Shoujo Coincidence 101), and even the final revelations try to hammer that Komugi and Yū were Meant To Be.
However, if nothing else, That Wolf-Boy is Mine! stays out of the shoujo garbage pit thanks to the main characters. Yū, the titular wolf-boy, is sweet, caring, and friendly. His friend Rin is more of the typical grumpy guy. I always find it refreshing to see a typical love triangle flipped on its head. As for the protagonist, Komugi is pretty rational; when she discovers Yū’s secret, she knows there’s no point in telling everybody because no one will believe her. (The guys have the power to hypnotize people, but Komugi is immune for reasons they don’t know.) She doesn’t hate her father, but she also doesn’t know how to interact with him after being separated for eight years. I also like having a cast where everyone doesn’t overreact, crying like it’s the end of the world when they get dumped or start yelling in jealousy. The whole story has this soft, easygoing feeling to it, and this is the heart of the manga.
The visuals are perhaps best described in one word: wispy. The art’s relaxed feeling goes perfectly with the low-tension atmosphere of the story. Komugi has long, straight hair, and she always wears it down. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy. That’s how it is for everyone and everything. The girls’ uniforms are a typical sailor style. The lunchroom is made up of typical square- and circle-shaped tables. The grey tones add to the subdued feel of the story, and the darker colors fit when most of the story takes place in fall and winter. The boys’ animal forms are done in a realistic style, not some goofy cartoon versions of wolves, cats, etc. I liked seeing the tanuki actually look like a tanuki and not like Tom Nook of Animal Crossing and, of course, the wolf-boy actually being both a wolf and a boy.
Honorifics are used.
I have to first say I don’t really care for the title. That Wolf-Boy is Mine! sounds really clingy and makes Komugi seem like she just glomps onto Yū and tries to bully anyone who comes close. My Little Wolf probably sounds a little too close to My Little Monster, but there had to be something that sounds less forceful. I mean, yes, My Wolf is a pretty bold statement to make, but I still don’t like That Wolf-Boy is Mine! as the title. The Wolf and Me? My Secret Wolf?
Lots of translation notes are included. They explain everything from the usual “using personal name” stuff to explaining Japanese folklore. Otherwise, there were just a couple of minor quibbles I had. Like when Yū says Komugi she smells good, the text reads ドン引き. I probably would have went with “backing away” or something similar instead of the “so turned off” the English version uses. “So turned off” makes it sound like Komugi was already interested in Yū and had her feelings change. Even something like “creeped out” makes it a little more clear what her first impression was. Both deal with ruined moods, but it’s just the tone that makes a difference to me.
That Wolf-Boy is Mine! is very likable, but the manga definitely feels like an extended cut of a single volume series. If that sounds like your type of series, it’s hard to beat That Wolf-Boy is Mine!, especially since Yū is not any type of tsun/kuu/yandere. If you like meatier romances, then That Wolf-Boy is Mine! is probably a series you should borrow rather than buy.