Play it Cool, Guys is an easy read that has honestly been more about vibes than the story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is greatly changing with Play it Cool Guys Volume 3. With a new bro in the squad, our cool guys are still living their clumsy and dorky lives in a fun way. The story and art are by Kokone Nata, and the series is published and localized in English by Yen Press. A full-color manga with different colors denoting a different perspective, the series is translated by Amanda Haley and features lettering by Lys Blakeslee.
This volume builds on the previous two. The main draw of the series remains the adorable dorks that we’ve been getting to know and how the story is beginning to weave together more, crafting a larger narrative. But with an expanding story with different perspectives on story events making for an endearing read, there is actually quite a bit to unpack.
While I can’t knock the series for this because it may not be the mangaka’s intent, the BL elements and tropes present in this Play It Cool Guys Volume 3 especially make me wish that Nata would embrace the genre. This is clear in the introduction of our new hot cool, clumsy guy, Motoharu Igarashi. Mima’s childhood friend, Igarashi is only focused on their reunion. Separated since Igarashi transferred schools, the two’s connection was something special, and it’s the throughline for the adult storyline in this volume. It’s such a focus for him that he’s even thinking about Mima in the tub.
But while the adult storyline hits the childhood-friends-to-lovers story blueprint beat for beat with Mima’s added lousy memory, the teen storyline is drawing connections between our entire cast. While the first volume of the series seemed to be focused on telling a story through self-contained but connected vignettes, we’re at the point of the series where an overarching narrative has taken shape. With Mima running publicity on Igarashi’s book adaptation, the marketing about confessing mistakes and embracing that part of yourself looks to be the perfect catalyst for our clumsily cast to be more connected.
Additionally, Play it Cool, Guys Volume 3 is aesthetically beautiful. Full-color, each cool guy is hot, but none of them suffer from same-face syndrome, which is often the hindrance of titles that use attractiveness as a key to their success. Each and every character doesn’t just look great, but they also have full characterizations. They have likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and their idiosyncracies all stand out adorably.
Overall, Play It Cool Guys Volume 3 is a good trajectory for the series. While I want more from the BL tropes put in plain sight of the reader, I can’t necessarily fault Nata too much. Additionally, the inclusion of a larger narrative takes this sweet series to the next level. I want more from the series. While the aesthetic is perfect, I’m ready for more to develop.
Play it Cool, Guys Volume 3
Play It Cool Guys Volume 3 is a good trajectory for the series. While I want more from the BL tropes put in plain sight of the reader, I can’t necessarily fault Nata too much…While the aesthetic is perfect, I’m ready for more to develop.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.