Fate brings two people who live in the same condo together on a typical afternoon. Ozawa (26) has just broken up with her boyfriend of five years and was in the process of trying to rebuild her life when she meets Oyamada who lives a couple floors below her. He is somewhat of a loner although he does have a few friends and his room is cluttered with all the random stuff that his impulse shopper brother sends him. Ozawa takes an interest with all the things in his room and the two start a friendship that slowly turns into something more.
I first thought it would be funny to read because the art was horrific.
After getting into it, I started liking the storyline, the characters, and I kept updated with it.
It's very cute and light hearted. The characters/ love interests are realistic and mature and the little things that happen between them are fun to read about. The two characters are pretty relatable. I still like it even though the art is horrible.
Mangakas of the romance genre often try to spice up their plots by putting their main couple through many dramatic obstacles in their relationships like third party involvement or family affairs, dragging the readers along for a roller coaster ride of heartaches.
Bonnouji has none of this. Nothing really happens. The best way to summarize this is that 2 apartment-mates meet and fall in love. And yet it manages to capture your attention from page 1 all the way to the very end.
Relationships don't need to be spiced up and dramatized. Bonnouji zeroes in on the comedy arising from the awkwardness and trickiness of 2 people
falling in love. It reminds us that at the end of it all, love is about companionship, and it is wonderful.
It's a simple read with simple art to match. But don't make the mistake of thinking it lacks depth. Get ready for lots of cringes and chuckles, and loads of warm fuzzy feels. It's truly a manga that'll put a smile on your face :)
Bonnouji is an instance where it manages to be a successful love story without depending on a drama storyline. It is often a necessity for romance to have some conflict in order for it to develop albeit it can turn into an ugly incoherent mess based on past experiences. What these other works do wrong is that they underestimate the potential a romance can bring. Drama can push a relationship to new highs and lows but it only works when the premise requires for such thing to happen. A typical heartwarming story between couples can go wrong by forcing it into a more serious direction.
Cheating, love triangles, family problems; these are things that authors are often tempted to squeeze into their existing storyline. Bonnouji has none of that yet still manages to come off as a mature yet lighthearted story that is believable and compelling to a degree.
One reason why it doesn’t need drama is because the romance is so awkward yet I can see it happen in real life. They get flustered when something embarrassing comes up, have bad timing when it comes to saying things, and own weird sides that they’ve come to appreciate. The romance development is very abrupt most of the time but it plays on that awkward tone well enough to be forgivable. The pacing could’ve been done better though as it can get surprising when you realize that so much time has passed when a character mentions how many years or months has it been after a specific event that happened a few chapters ago.
The story does not delve into the heartbreak part at the beginning of the story and doesn’t get back to it, hence cutting off the main source of drama potential. Ozawa’s ex-boyfriend disappears immediately to irrelevance, making it easier to move forward to a hopeful tone. Breakups happen and sometimes you don’t know why it has led to that point but shit happens and we need to forget about it. Closure is not necessary as long as you’re happy with the present in this case. There is potential though as it can open up some skeletons in the closet but it’s impossible to fit it within the narrative without hurting its easy-going, blissful atmosphere.
The manga however makes up for the lack of drama through its often melancholic dialogue. The characters can get introspective at times, reflecting at the status of their relationship. Is this fine? Will things stay this way forever? There are doubts present but when the couple is at the presence of each other, they feel like everything is going to be alright. The story is self-aware when it comes to why are they such a perfect couple. They don’t fight at all and tease each other at times but it doesn’t end on a sour note. They complement each other’s personalities so much that anything that happens with them often leads to a lighthearted situation. Heck, they even make sex cute and innocent even though it never shies away from being expressed erotically.
I normally seek a solid character background when it comes to romance stories like this but for this specific manga, it made me not seek it at all. They are adults, and probably lived a normal life. No traumatic past events are used to propel further characterization. A character leading a completely normal life from childhood to present while still being wholesome can be possible. The manga plays its strengths at dealing with present situations. Ozawa works at the office, so the story occasionally deals with her frustrations which can get melancholic. Oyamada mostly spends time at his room since his job doesn’t require him to go outside, no deeper implications of a typical NEET shut-in at all. The story interweaves both of their daily lives in such a refreshing manner while having the romance at the forefront.
Overall this can be considered as a wish-fulfillment romance manga. Some will see it that way but personally I don’t care since it perfectly captures the life of a normal everyday adult. Circumstances brought the duo to a happy relationship, but the manga never coats it with too much sugar. It has a degree of realism to it and I applaud it for being such a realistic yet heartwarming tale of eccentric love.
So while looking for alcohol related manga’s like Bartender, a random person on a chat introduced me to Bonnouji. This may not have been about alcohol but I still fell in love with it. It’s a very simple story about a man and woman falling in love. There is nothing really over the top, no harems for Oyamada to pick from, no really large conflicts or supernatural intervention. After all the anime and manga I have read over the years, I was surprised this was actually a manga (don’t you love sarcasm?).
The characters are very simple, and sadly sometimes a little to simple. Ozawa
is rather spacey at times and doesn’t really grow at all though the story. She just goes through her life as a normal business woman, responsible and hard working while trying to get up in the world, but when she is in Bonnouji (Oyamada’s room) she acts like a child. Half the time I didn’t even believe she was almost 30 with how childish she was. Oyamada really wasn’t any better, being carefree pretty much. He would always have fun opening one box after another from the items his brother would send him and living each day as though there was going to be something spectacular in the next box. These two worlds have really different feelings to them, and yet they seem to collide in odd ways as the two get more and more attracted to each other. One would even think, maybe, that Ozawa is only using Zenji to get out of her daily routine and to help her forget her ex. That is a big question to ask and it is one of the main reasons I kept reading the manga, not because of the artwork, but because of the story inside. That to me is the real reason people should be reading manga in the first place.
What bugged me was the fact that there was no good way to judge time at all. The chapters held themselves together well with the stories and playful antics but there was no way to figure out time. They would say it every once in a while that a year has passed, that a couple months passed but it doesn’t tell you out loud. It’s only a small hint.
The art style is pretty sloppy, sort of a mash together of lines but I think it sort of works. What doesn’t work though is how strange the proportions sometimes end up, with squashed heads and large hips at some points. They don’t even look like adults half the time because of the inconsistent way the characters had been drawn. I thought for a while they might have been just teens at a couple points, especially Oyamada. There is a bit of a warning I have to add to this by the way, there are a couple sex scenes (though they are not made to be the main focus) and many mature talks about romance. This is not for younger people. The background goes from highly detailed to almost nothing a lot of the time though I wonder if that is just time frames getting in the way.
This was worth every moment of me reading it and I think everyone needs to at least try to read it at some point if they love romance.