Oh, shojo romances. Known for the messy drama and will-they-won’t-they, Mint Chocolate brings both of those things in spades. Published in English by Yen Press, Mint Chocolate comes from mangaka Mami Orikasa and is translated into English by Amber Tamosaitis and is lettered by Sara Linsley.
Mint Chocolate Volume 1 collects chapters 1 through 6 and introduces us to a concept that most romance manga readers will know well: step-siblings. This isn’t as weird as it sounds, and the first volume deals with the complications and issues that revolve around the theme. In the series, Nanami finally gets a chance to meet her mom’s new husband and his son, but, in true messy shojo fashion, it just so happens that he’s one of her classmates. To make matters worse, it’s Kyouhei Suzumura. Not only is her new stepbrother cool and completely unapproachable, but he’s also her crush.
The bulk of Mint Chocolate Volume 1 is spent with Nanami and Kyouhei getting closer while also pushing each other apart. While this theme is also in a current shojo title from VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat, Love Me Love Me Not, the way that Orikasa handles it is worlds apart from that series. For Orikasa, it’s clear that Kyouhei and Nanami will be end game – it’s just about how they get there, and, of course, how they deal with the circumstances, they find themselves in through no fault of their own.
One of the reasons I enjoy Mint Chocolate Volume 1 is because the story doesn’t waste time jumping to the romance. Kisses, hugs, and all of it leave our leads questioning what they are and ultimately if their attractions are okay. Both of them are aware of their situation, and their interactions are deliberately more playful than romantic – at least at the beginning.
But the best part of Mint Chocolate Volume 1 is the way the tsundere lead Kyouhei shows his emotional side for Nanami. Kyuohei is cold and rejects every girl who confesses their feelings to him. The definition of too cool, Kyouhei attempts to hide his feelings for Nanami. While he does tease her at moments, as he grows closer to her, he pulls back. But even when he pulls back, he can’t maintain that boundary between them. When Nanami runs away from their home, he follows. When she asks for ice cream, he gets it for her. There is a build-up of small moments including jealousy and the typical shojo misunderstanding that make a pathway forward for this couple – even if they aren’t officially a couple yet. And honestly, never once does the dynamic feel weird, even while acknowledging it.
Overall, Mint Chocolate Volume 1 is just a good shojo romance. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it will give fans of the genre a great story with a cliffhanger that leaves them desperate for volume 2.
Mint Chocolate Volume 1 is available now, wherever books are sold.
Mint Chocolate Volume 1
Mint Chocolate Volume 1 is just a good shojo romance. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it will give fans of the genre a great story with a cliffhanger that leaves them desperate for volume 2.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.