My Boy in Blue
PとJK (P to JK)
Shoujo – Comedy, drama, romance
16 Volumes (complete)
Sixteen-year-old Kako is pushed into a group date and has to pretend she’s in college. While she feels awkward there, Kako is happily surprised when one man, Kota, is interested in her. But his attitude completely changes when she blurts out her real age, as he’s a police officer! Is this the end for Kako’s love?
Does the idea of a police officer dating a high school girl disturb you? Or perhaps you just are rolling your eyes at the outrageousness that only a manga could get away with?
Well, buckle up, because My Boy in Blue gets even crazier and yet somehow more acceptable in society’s eyes.
Kako goes to a mixer to fill in the numbers at the urging of her best friend (Mikado), and while people are egging her on to drink, one attendee, Kota, gulps it down so she won’t be pressured. This leads to a chat afterwards, and Kota bluntly says he’d like to get to know her more. But Kako, as evidenced here and repeatedly throughout My Boy in Blue, is an idiot and reveals she’s 16, not a college student. Kota quickly sends her on her way, and she can’t understand why he did a 180. She then realizes he’s an officer patrolling the area, and although Kako knows she should stay away from Kota, she either checks up on him or ends up in some kind of situation that requires help. Kota finally admits he’s been charmed by her and asks her to marry him so that their relationship is acceptable in the eyes of the law.
So My Boy in Blue isn’t about Kako pursuing Kota until he gives in. Because he does… quickly. As in he proposed at the end of the first volume. So this doesn’t just turn into a secret relationship manga but a secret marriage one. As such, audiences have to be okay with both a fast romance and an age gap.
The marriage has rules though. Kako still has to go to school and go by her family’s name, and no overnight visits or hanky panky. In other words, much like a normal high school age gap love story. Because they never went through a proper dating relationship, much of the manga is about the two of them getting to know each other and what being in a relationship is like. Well, the latter applies more to Kako — it takes several volumes for them to even kiss, which is a rather slow pace for any romance manga, let alone one featuring a married couple. So there’s a bit of irony here. Most romance stories, getting married is the ultimate goal or final step — here, it’s the first step, yet while the two are happy to be together, the pace is slow. Kota allows himself a few indulgences, but he’s determined to maintain some boundaries.
Of course, that a 23-year-old officer of the law decides to marry a 16-year-old he barely knows is going to repulse many manga readers. I mean, it’s a double whammy of virtual strangers and age gap involving a student. Even if audiences know the relationship is rather chaste, in the real world, it would be disturbing. The manga could also give the impression that getting married is something to rush into, but like in a lot of fiction, hopefully fans aren’t taking romantic advice from this protagonist.
What works in My Boy in Blue‘s favor is that it has heavy comedic aspects to it. Kako, for instance, is easily lovestruck by Kota. Mikado, Kako’s best friend, is billed as “Kako’s partner in crime”. Both are fun-loving girls who aren’t good at academics, and as the only one outside of Kota and Kako’s families and some of Kota’s colleagues who knows about their relationship, Mikado loves to mess with both of them. Tired of best friend characters who act like therapists or counselors? Well, Mikado just might fit the bill. Jiro, Mikado’s childhood friend, is another idiot, one who loves his bunny suit (LOL). I’m surprised the three of them don’t have a nickname like the Baka Trio. It’s kind of a nice change from manga who always feel they have to have a group of friends who are so different from each other.
Meanwhile, Kota’s partner is a kind older man who also loves to enjoy himself and is perhaps more hip than his younger coworker. Kako’s parents appear sporadically, mostly the typical “dad busting in to protect his daughter from the evil man who’s taking her away” situations. Kota’s sister makes a few appearances, and she’s more entertaining since Kota can’t win against her.
At its core, though, My Boy in Blue is about a girl’s first love that turns out to be requited. Rather than being some kind of passionate, destined love, it’s more like a relationship with a comfortable warmth. They just want to be together, and marriage is the method they choose to be together as they “date”. For instance, as Kako learns more about her husband’s past, she tries to give Kota the happy experiences he missed out on. Kota can be strict and a bit of a workaholic, but to his credit, he does care for Kako as much as she does for him. In fact, he was the one who took an interest in her first. You don’t see a lot of guys hitting on the female protagonists in shoujo manga. (Well, not without being a rival or a random stranger who is about to get his butt kicked by the real love interest.)
However, the romance and ridiculousness are punctuated often by serious arcs. Drama is featured right in the first volume when Kako gets injured by a delinquent youth named Heisuke. Heisuke is remorseful about his rebellious nature causing Kako to be injured, and they become close. Heisuke still doesn’t like cops though, even one that is Kako’s relative (Kota). Of course, Kota is just looking out for his wife, but as we learn, he’s also looking out for Heisuke. The two are alike, which causes a lot of consternation (mostly comedic) for Heisuke even as he starts to respect Kota.
Even though Kako seems to be a little too forgiving of Heisuke, that’s nothing compared to the late game drama. I don’t want to get into it too deeply, but readers may have some strong feelings about Kako’s — and Kota’s — actions and feelings. And it basically comes down to how you feel about second chances, even moreso than the situation with Heisuke. On one hand, it’s admirable to not judge a person solely on their worst moment. On the other, I can understand the frustration when it seems like a wronged party’s pain is downplayed. Shoujo protagonists generally are forgiving, but in this case, it’s not about moving past what someone did to her but still wanting to skip down the Yellow Brick Road happily together with all her friends and family a la The Wizard of Oz.
The tension gets to the point that even the author calls out her characters for their behavior. While many readers will be shaking their heads at the idiocy of an officer marrying a student after a short period of time, My Boy in Blue is probably better when you aren’t supposed to be thinking about neglectful parents or robbers. Because the more realistic it is, the more skeevy the setup is. But when Kako and others are being high-energy morons, it’s easier to equate this manga to a series like, I don’t know, one where a man had to marry an alien. Police work is obviously a stressful, high-pressure job, and if Maki wanted to touch more on that, fine. Although Kako is young, she’s still a married woman, and her naivety will irritate a lot of readers.
Not all dramatic arcs focus on the main couple though. A girl named Yui has a lot of harsh words for Kako and is connected to one of the other characters. Mikado finds herself in the middle of a love triangle in one of the stronger arcs of the manga. So while Kako finds herself a part of these as support, she cedes the spotlight at times. In between those arcs, there are school events, vacations, and trying to decide on a future career — all the typical high school manga stuff. As I alluded to before, with the students tending to be silly, the manga has a Love Com-like energy to it in these sections. I’d rather read about Kota stuck being a tutor to three idiots who keep going off-topic or Mikado helping cover up Kako hanging out with Kota by saying she got the runs. (And she was so proud of her excuse as well!)
Because My Boy in Blue tries too hard to balance the fluff with the comedy with the drama, chapters don’t always flow smoothly from one to another, as it brings up too many plot points or potential scenes and either skips them or are underdeveloped. When it’s good, it’s good, but when My Boy in Blue is okay or even bad, it’s pretty lame.
The art is nice. It has some weak spots, such as Kako seems to randomly age up at times. The manga also seems to have a lot of characters with cold/harsh expressions, even among the non-antagonists of the story (like Kota). Panels and layouts can be a bit simplistic, but it makes for a nice lackadaisical read. There are a few times where Kota’s job comes into play, and there’s one more mature scene that’s quickly canned. But My Boy in Blue is not graphic in any sense. Quite frankly, if readers can handle the premise, the art is not going to be the deciding factor. It may not be the most stellar manga to look at, but no one is going to give it bad marks either.
P to JK in the title refers to a police officer (p) and a joshi kousei (jk, aka high school girl). That’s why most of the volumes have arrows on them. The Japanese logo is arranged so that the P and JK point to the two leads. So the arrows are kind of pointless on the English covers. The English title is also similar to another Kodansha shoujo working man x high school girl manga, My Boyfriend in Orange. So part of me always wants to write this series as My Boyfriend in Blue or that one as My Boy in Orange. I also have a fondness for the French title and logo, Love Under Arrest.
Honorifics are used. Footnotes are used when needed. Some jokes are slightly rewritten or adapted, like the yabai/sick scene near the beginning of Volume 5 or replacing a pun on the fast food chain Bikkuri Donkey with Burger King. Nickname “Hara-sen” for “Harada-sensei” is rarely used if I remember correctly. Otherwise, not a lot of cultural aspects outside of the usual high school events.
My Boy in Blue has a rather narrow audience thanks to its couple with an age gap and the hasty marriage. The comedy and the drama also tend to pull the manga in different directions, which hurts the narrative. I’m sure a lot of readers will enjoy My Boy in Blue just as a way to fantasize about an older partner being smitten and being a protagonist who otherwise always believes in the good of people. But if any of these aspects are a turn-off for you in your manga, My Boy in Blue simply isn’t strong enough of a work to overcome your hesitation.