A former boys' school recently integrated into a co-ed high school. Shinya Sanada spent the beginning on his high school life in a hospital, so he arrives to what he thought was the boys-only dormitory a month late. What's waiting for him is his former childhood friend, although he's much more womanly than he remembers. Shinya decides to adapt to his new life at school.
Comedy is hard to really review and rate because, really, it all comes down to a simple question: is it funny or not? Saying anything beyond that is like masturbatory self-aggrandizement for the reviewer, an excuse to blather on without point or purpose.
So, Unbalance School Life centers on MC Shinya, who arrives to school one month late to find that all the other guys were turned into women by a plot contrivance. As the only man on campus, he has to try and keep it in his pants as he struggles to keep up in class.
The set-up is more or less just an excuse for the wacky shenanigans that follow, but the shenanigans are sufficiently wacky. There’s not much in the way of forward-driving plot, but as a vehicle for jokes and humorous situations, it works. A healthy portion of those jokes are going to revolve around accidental gropings (according to Japan, boobs are more felt than my rug), but there is genuine humor here, too, thank God. I got quite a few sensible chuckles and even a hearty guffaw here and there.
Part of what sells the humor is the MC. Never doubt the power of an MC to make or break a premise, and nothing can kill any sense of fun or excitement faster than a boring, stick-in-the-mud dead fish doormat of a protagonist. Luckily, Shinya, our main character here, is a complete dick, and I love him for it. He’s a man of simple wants and little patience or capability for tact, and it’s great. More characters should be unrepentant dicks. It just works.
Now, the rest of the cast is pretty standard for a story like this (including “the flat-chested one” everyone’s favorite apparent character archetype), and most are forgettable, but this is the sort of comedy where one-note personalities are more forgivable. As tools for setting up jokes and good lines, they do the job just fine.
The art is also actually surprisingly well done. Don’t expect Murata-style layers of detail and depth, but it gets all the basics right enough to be pleasing to the eye. Unlike “Shishunki Bitter Change” there are backgrounds and variations in panel layouts and my God I didn’t know how much I missed them. The characters themselves look pretty standard, which can make it a problem when it comes time to distinguish between them (How many black-haired generic manga school girls can a man be reasonably expected to keep track of?), but maybe I’m just racist. Also, we get full on nudity, nips and all, out of nowhere. It feels kind of sudden, but I have to commend the artist for drawing so skillfully with just one hand above the table.
There’s not a whole to this under the surface; what you see is what you get. If you’re looking for drama or introspection, you may get some literal navel-gazing, but little else. The beginning is a little muddled with character introductions and set-up, the romance element seems rather perfunctory, and it takes 8 or so chapters before we get the actual backstory, but these are relatively minor sins when you're having a good time. With Chapter 15, it looks like the story is going in a radically different direction, so who knows what that will bring. I'm compelled to keep reading, at least.
Unbalance School Life is breezy, it’s humorous, and it includes the line, “This isn’t slutty! This is avant-garde sexy!” There’s worse ways to spend an hour or two. Go in with the right expectations and you’ll have a grand old time.