Litchi Hikari Club is like Superjail. Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with Superjail, it is a cartoon set in a surreal jail run by a megalomaniac. In other words, if you liked Litchi Hikari Club, you would probably like the first season of Superjail and its three to five minute long violent brawls. But that was the first season. The second season of Superjail broke away from its gorefest template and focused on character development. Make no mistake, however, the show was still violent as ever.
Now, Bokura no Hikari Club (BnHC), the prequel to Litchi Hikari Club (LHC), is also a break away from its predecessor. Set before the events of Litchi Hikari Club (which is, itself, based on a theatrical play), BnHC gives more background and reveals certain character motivations that LHC lacked. How did Zera become emperor of the Hikari Club? Why does Jaibo have such extensive medical knowledge? Why does Nico only have one eye? BHnC depicts the answers to those questions, as well as the original inception of the Hikari Club.
Now, even if you haven't read LHC, you've probably guessed by now that violence and gore play a huge role in it. The first impression you get is that these fourteen year old boys are depraved. And that's what makes it fun to read.
In simple terms, Bokura no Hikari Club attempts to humanize the ultraviolent middle schoolers of Litchi Hikari Club.
Make no mistake, the characters are pretty much the same as they were before, with the same mannerisms, alliances and delusions of grandeur. But where LHC doesn't have a clear protagonist at the beginning, BnHC does. Bokura no Hikari Club is told from Tamiya Hiroshi's perspective, who is, arguably, the most relatable character of the Hikari Club. In elementary school, he and his friends Dafu and Kaneda found the Hikari Club, which is little more than a hang out filled with trash and other undesirables. As time goes on, more members are initiated into the ranks of the Hikari Club and not all for the better.
The art style is still intact from the previous one, with the stark character design and detailed, industrial backgrounds that give the pages an eerie feel.
Those expecting disemboweling and lynching of the original won't find that in the first chapters of BnHC. Instead, the story sets the foundations for the craziness to come. It explains how the characters met and fills in certain gaps that LHC whizzed past. On a related note, reading it before or after LHC shouldn't matter. Bokura no Hikari Club is its own story and leads right up the events of Litchi Hikari Club, overlapping at times and portraying scenes from a different character's perspective. In fact, this story is really about the characters and how they became capable of the events of the Litchi Hikari Club.
Sometimes the time skips seemed like a far way to skip, however. The characters are ten, and then suddenly they're in middle school. On a related note, Zera and Tamiya are fleshed out far more than the rest of the Hikari Club. It would have been nice to see more development from the others. Indeed, even some of the characters' introductions seem rushed over, like they just came out of the woodwork and joined the club for some unexplained reason.
As well, this manga is Adults Only for multiple reasons, probably more than I feel like reiterating. Just know it's not for kids or the faint of heart. Even the humor is often of a violent or sexual nature and animal lovers may wince while suppressing a giggle.
BnHC will certainly satisfy those LHC fans reeling for MORE! and is a good starting point for those who haven't read Litchi Hikari Club yet. However, that being said, the ending of BnHC might not be what some expect. To get right down to it, if you were attracted to this series by the violence, amorality and blatant disregard for human life, you might be disappointed. Some the most violent acts in BnHC are just retellings from the original and most dishearteningly of all, some of the characters are even apologetic towards those acts. Ultimately, however, Litchi Hikari Club might just make a little more sense after BnHC. Emphasis on the 'little.'
Bokura no Hikari Club is a dark comedy, a bizarre love story and maybe, just maybe, a sympathetic embarkment into the minds of sex obsessed, manipulative and vicious fourteen year olds. It's like middle school all over again, but there's a high chance you'll enjoy it this time.