A Look At “Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut” Manga

A Look At “Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut” Manga
Kusunoki-san wa Koukou Debut ni Shippai shite Iru
She is (not) a cool girl (in high school)

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but one of the great thing about following mangaka on Twitter (X) is that they will sometimes retweet stuff from other artists. Such was the case when MII Mitsuki‘s tweet-thread for their Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut series. To that end, I read the first fifteen chapters of the manga.

The Story, in Brief

Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut 01SHIZUKI Keisuke was a fat, glasses-wearing otaku in middle school. He overheard a popular girl he had a crush on trash talk him. As such, Keisuke pukes when he looks at pretty girls. Further, he decides that his high school debut will be positive. To that end, he loses weight and starts wearing contact lenses.

All goes well except for the fact that his former schoolmate, KUSUNOKI Shizuka is in his class, and she knows him from before. Like Keisuke, Shizuka was also a loner in middle school. However, she would often sit at his table in the library because she wanted to be friends with him.

Despite her current popularity, Shizuka tells Keisuke that she has no friends. He reluctantly agrees to help her with conditions. She’s very happy to do friend things with him, so much so that he becomes uncomfortable at times. He discovers he has a lot in common with her, but he still tries to keep her at arm’s length, even if it hurts her. Eventually, he realizes that his actions are just like those of people he despises.

At the same time, Keisuke discovers the girl (TAKAGAKI Ririsa) who gave him trauma is also at his high school, though in another class. But for some reason, she has a different family name (Hebikawa). To make matters worse, he keeps running into her. Further, Ririsa reaches out to Shizuka to befriend her. Not only that, but Ririsa shows a keen interest in Keisuke, and he doesn’t know why.


Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut 02Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut isn’t the first series I’ve watched or read that deals with starting high school afresh, or trying to find friends. That said, those titles had a comedic focus and thus acted as a counterbalance to the loneliness or attempts to not be an outcast. That’s not true for Mii-sensei’s manga. Here, things come off as a straight drama. I suppose that’s understandable since this is supposedly a josei manga series.

That brings me to the lead male character, Keisuke. On one hand, I understand his desire to have a new start in high school. As such, I can understand his initial concern over Shizuka. Since she’d known him from high school, she could accidentally destroy his attempts to be rid of his fat, otaku past. However, it was clear from the start that despite her new appearance, she’d failed to make friends and thus only wanted to befriend Keisuke.

What I don’t understand is Keisuke’s poor treatment of Shizuka. Maybe it is a Japanese thing, but since no one at the high school knew of Shizuka’s or Keisuke’s past, being seen with her shouldn’t be a problem. So he does stuff to keep her at a distance. It is only because he feels sorry for her that he concedes to help her like he does. At least he realizes how shabby his treatment is and apologizes to her.

Finally, there’s Keisuke’s condition, whereby he wants to vomit when he sees a pretty girl. I could buy that, considering his past. Shizuka doesn’t affect him ’cause he doesn’t totally see her as a woman…yet. And she doesn’t see him as a guy…yet.


As a character, in Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut, I think Shizuka is a lonely guy’s perfect, fantasy girl. On one had, she’s beautiful and pure as fresh snow. On the other, she’s an otaku. Though I like Shizuka as a character, and I felt for her very much at times, that hot-otaku combination doesn’t quite feel real to me.

As such, since I see her as the “perfect girlfriend” character, it makes Keisuke’s actions toward her in these early chapters more perplexing. I suppose he has an issue with her possibly being a clinger. However, in my mind, if there’s a hot babe whom you have a lot in common with, then what’s the issue? Shizuka’s friendly affection for Keisuke is so pure, it hurts.

That aside, I do appreciate Shizuka’s struggles as she attempts to become more than what she was in middle school. Assuming I get to read more, I do look forward to her journey. I hope that she and Keisuke can become a couple ’cause they go well together as characters. And hopefully, I won’t get depressed over my own failures on the couples front. 😅


The third character of Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut is Ririsa. She establishes the love-triangle, something I’m not too keen on. Nevertheless, I find it interesting that Mii-sensei draws Ririsa with cat eyes. Considering that a younger Keisuke had a crush on her, only to accidentally discover her disdain for him, Ririsa’s cat eyes give her an untrustworthy air. As such, it feels like she’d happily jerk Shizuka’s or Keisuke’s chain for her own amusement.

And yet we learn that despite her seemingly haughty attitude, as well as her playful and somewhat seductive nature (like a cat), she has her own insecurities. So that gives her a human element, and I appreciate that. Hopefully, her character can get expanded on quite a bit. I don’t want her to be the element that causes drama between Shizuka and Keisuke.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

In the end, while Kusunoki-san Failed Her High School Debut made me feel some level of depression (thanks to seeing the pure, Shizuka get hurt or become unsure), I still enjoyed the story quite a lot.

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