Beauty is the Beast 1 by Tomo Matsumoto: B+

From the back cover:
When bubbly eleventh-grader Eimi Yamashita finds out that her parents are relocating for work, she decides to strike out on her own and move into a dormitory for girls. Little does Eimi suspect the exciting romantic adventures that await her there!

Eimi’s fellow residents are a little bit crazy, but a whole lot of fun. They’ve got a secret mission planned for Eimi’s new resident initiation… and it has something to do with sneaking into the boys dormitory across the street and returning with a special keepsake! Can Eimi pull it off without getting caught by one of the handsomest (and cruelest) boys in the dorm?

It seemed like I hadn’t read a shoujo story set in high school for a while, so I was prompted to try this series. I expected to like it, but I do even more so than anticipated. Eimi is a cute character, one of those fearless Hufflepufflian sorts of shoujo heroines, but I think her two friends Misao and Suzu are somewhat more interesting. They remind me of Hanajima and Uotani from Fruits Basket, and each of them gets a nice dose of attention in this volume so that they get some rounding out as characters. Eimi is a little bit Tohru herself, and is able to give some good advice a few times and penetrate some prickly defenses.

We don’t know when in the school term Eimi moves into the dorm, but it’s the end of the first term by the end of this volume. Throughout, the chapters show different encounters between Eimi and Wanibuchi (the handsome/cruel boy mentioned above who has been given the nickname ‘Wanichin’ by Eimi). There’s not really an overall arc building here, but more like a series of incidents. It works pretty well for a first volume, but if it continues in exactly this manner for the other four, I think I’ll be disappointed. I’m also a little worried that some of the plot threads that were spun for Misao and Suzu might get dropped in future volumes, and I hope that doesn’t happen.

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