Teenage Hina, whose family manages an apartment building, is fed up with the noisy, unseen occupant of apartment 304. Breaking in to investigate, she smashes the keyboard of an adorkable guy named Anzu and falls into his debt. It’s hard for old-school shojo fans not to think of the classic that-ain’t-right manga Hot Gimmick, wherein a similar setup puts the heroine in sexual slavery to her neighbor (at least to the extent allowed by a T+ rating). But Anzu isn’t a complete scumbag and Hina has a bit of a spine, so she pays off her debt by running errands and being an extra-conscientious landlady. As she repeatedly insists, “Our relationship is strictly manager-resident!”
But there’s another twist: it turns out Anzu is the frontman for up-and-coming band Floating Air Plants. Onstage, he has a sexy rockstar magnetism that Hina somehow only picks up on when he takes off his hipster glasses. (Some would argue that his playful “goofy weirdo” persona is hotter than his stage persona, but different strokes.) Being a rock singer’s Girl Friday grants Hina backstage access to his world, opening her to exciting new experiences. Anzu’s band is still fairly small potatoes, so this taste of the rock lifestyle is less about glamor and fame, more about playing basement clubs, scribbling song lyrics, and building fans over Instagram. But to the sheltered, overworked Hina, staying out all night at a concert and then getting fast food is a delicious thrill.
This fizzy, low-stakes music-industry drama is buoyed by Kirishima’s enormously appealing art. As in many shojo romance manga, the female characters are cute and baby-faced, the male characters handsome, willowy, and drawn in ab-enhancing detail. Kirishima is great at drawing intense, throbbing concert scenes replete with screaming fans and close-ups of Anzu’s sweat-drenched face. Hina and Anzu are such a fun couple it’s almost possible to overlook the fact that in real life, an adult rock singer dragging a 16-year-old around with him to gigs would be more creepy than romantic. But as a teenage fantasy of experiencing first love and a first taste of the wider world, it’s charming.
story and art: Rila Kirishima