The Wolf Boy is Mine (私のオオカミくん) by Yōko Nogiri is a shōjo, romance series that follows a high school girl named Komugi Kusunoki who transfers to rural Hokkaido after dealing with bullying at her previous school in the city. Upon arriving, she bumps into a super handsome dude named Yū Ōgami who blurts out that she smells good. Feeling somewhat mortified, Kusunoki walks away. Later in the day, when she’s getting some air, she comes across a dude sleeping under a shady tree. Realising it’s Yū, she approaches him and is shocked to discover that he’s transformed into a wolf.
Last month, I received an offer from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited programme to sign up for two months for only five bucks. When I browsed their catalogue and found a ton of manga available, I went ahead and accepted the deal, and downloaded all volumes for The Wolf Boy is Mine. It appealed to me because it was short and by a mangaka whose work I had already read and liked. I’m glad I picked up this manga because it had a fun and heart-warming tail to it (mwahaha puns), but it suffered in the same way that Nogiri-san’s other work, Love in Focus, did. The length was too short to give a truly fleshed out and satisfying reading experience in the long run.
Let’s take a look at the really good aspects of The Wolf Boy is Mine. My top three are the ayakashi elements, the bond that the boys share, and the artwork. The aspects that I felt needed much more development includes the romance and Kusunoki’s relationship with the other characters, and the lore and backstory of the ayakashi.
Yū is one of several folx that have the ability to transform into animals. Because of this, these individuals have formulated a small yet tight-knit fellowship. They stick to each other and avoid humans in order to protect their identities as much as they seek to protect their hearts and emotions. Seeing how their different personalities came together to complement one another and how it contributed to the overall platonic chemistry they had going on was immensely pleasant. It was entertaining to watch the mischievous one rile up some trouble here and there, and for the others to yell at him, but to do so with affection. They don’t take his theatrics to heart because they know he’s just being goofy while trying to help in his own delinquent way. Stuff like this is appealing to me because it makes me laugh as much as it makes me feel fluffed out from the warmth of close friendships.
Another facet that I felt rather drawn in by was the ayakashi element itself. Learning about the different animals, along with why and how they came to interact with humans, to go as far as to blend in by shapeshifting into them, was pretty intriguing. The information is offered in bite-size morsels as the series only has four volumes, but I’m happy it wasn’t completely ignored. I tend to vehemently dislike it when characteristics such as this as shared in a story as “just is” without explanation or elaboration. It tends to make the narrative as a whole pretty flimsy.
My biggest complaint is that nothing ever gets time to develop and grow properly. We meet Kusunoki, who then meets the boys. Then they strike up a friendship as things are revealed. A minor plot twist arises to create some conflict, and then it’s resolved just as easily as it appeared. It’s just BAM, BAM, BAM and done. The Wolf Boy is Mine isn’t as one-dimensional as some other romance manga that I’ve read, but it also leaves a sort of emptiness within the reader because there are tons of unanswered questions or just super convenient resolutions that end up detracting from the characters’ potential quite a bit.
For example, we learn briefly about Kusunoki’s past and why she moves to Hokkaido, but very little else is explained about her. When her unsurprising connection to Hokkaido is ultimately shared, it’s so concise that it came off as a complete cop-out; a convenient turn to reach a quicker finale.
Another example is learning about one of the character’s backstory. This is someone who I felt was neglected for the majority of the narrative, and their history is revealed as a Bonus Chapter, mostly to fill the pages of an emptier volume. If this was written more cohesively into the physical story, along with some of the other characters’ histories, then it would have given much more depth and power to the supernatural elements and substantial support for the cautious way that the animals engage with humans.
The last issue I had was with the romance itself. It’s basically an insta-love type situation, at least from one individual. As they try to deal with their unrequited feelings, another person ends up falling in love with them, creating a love triangle dynamic. I only really like love triangles in manga, but it’s so frustrating to me when the characters involved don’t get a chance at creating meaningful relationships between one another. The final coupling was a disappointment to me because I felt the chemistry and relationship undercurrents for the secondary coupling option was much better. This was another situation where everything was blatantly convenient, weakly crafted, and thus mildly disappointing.
The artwork is gorgeous though, and something that helped to alleviate a bit of the frustrations I had with the overall tale. It’s delicate and charming with a softness to the line work that complements the generally light-heartedness of the interactions and friendships that take place. This is another title that I feel would be great to read during the spring season because of how lovely the artistic style is.
All in all, The Wolf Boy is Mine is a rather average romantic manga that I do recommend for folx searching for a shorter series to dive into (it has eighteen chapters, with four total volumes) that won’t require much of an emotional investment at all. I also recommend this if you’re a fan of dainty illustrations and low-risk romantic affiliations. Just keep in mind that it can feel deprived of development due to its more succinct length. So, if you prefer fleshed out characters and settings, you won’t find much of that here.
Genre: Romance, Supernatural
Publisher: Kodansha Comics (English)
Total Volumes: 4
Content Warnings: Bullying. Child abandonment. Mention of Death. Forced amnesia.
AniList: Watashi no Ookami-kun by Yōko Nogiri