A review of the first volume & first impressions
I picked up and read the first volume of Watari-kun's ****** is about to Collapse (Watari-kun no xx ga Houkai Sunzen) by Naru Narumi on a whim from my library. Watari-kun is an ongoing series currently running in Kodansha's Monthly Young Magazine. Kodansha USA publishes the series digitally, and as of this review, 11/13 volumes are available to read as e-books. Some chapters are available to read on streaming platforms like Azuki, INKR, and Magamo. Kodansha describes the story:
Naoto Watari has had his share of struggles: his parents died two years ago, and now he and his sister live at his aunt’s house. There, his desire to protect his sister earned him notoriety as “the guy with the sister complex”—which never mattered to him, as his sister always came first. But when Satsuki, a childhood friend-turned-enemy(?), becomes his school mate, Naoto’s ordinary life is thrown into chaos … and Satsuki may just be the beginning.
In short, Watari-Kun is an uncomfortable psychological romantic drama about the titular Naoto Watari. This first volume moved slowly and had a lot of stuff going on beneath the surface. Lots of co-dependency, unhealthy obsessions and behavior, and unhealthy relationships, especially between the brother and sister. Naoto goes beyond just a doting older brother. He eschews high school life to take care of his sister, even when she doesn't need his help.
Likewise, the sister is problematic both in how she's drawn and in her personality. She's supposed to be 10 years old, but she appears much younger and makes scenes like Naoto and her bathing together weirder. Personality-wise, Suzu acts like a spoiled brat. She's "tiny and useless" (her exact words) and refuses to grow up. She's smart and crafty too as seen in her hiding her perfect grades from Naoto so she can be tutored by him. It's clear that each sibling depends on the other and acts a certain way for the other's benefit. As if that's not enough, the aunt is screwed up too.
Aunt Tamayo is the younger sister of Naoto's dad, and it's clear that she's obsessed with the dad. She shares similarities to Suzu, and may offer a glimpse into what Suzu will become if she doesn't separate from her brother now. Also, it sounds like we're in for one hell of a reveal when Naoto narrates, "The real reason why Tamayo-san took us in was something we would learn about sometime later."
Finally, the romance part. There's a love triangle/shape thing going on between Naoto, the childhood friend-turned-enemy Satsuki, Naoto's friend, and Naoto's crush Ishihara. Satsuki is giving off yandere vibes here. Also, this is an ecchi/fanservice manga. Nothing extreme thus far. For example, Naoto gets hit upside the head by his aunt for getting caught "making out" with Satsuki when in reality Naoto accidentally fell on top of her in what appeared to be a compromising position. Stuff like that. Also, Satsuki steals a kiss so there's that.
Overall, this first volume is okay. A lot of set-ups and I'm not sure if the mangaka will deliver on all the nuggets of plot presented in this first volume. I'm not vibing with it so I might not continue with the series. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, check out Watari-kun's ****** Is About to Collapse here.