A two-volume spin-off from a popular Japanese teleseries, Makoto Tateno’s Happy Boys (Doki Doki/DMP) followqs a quintet of young men who work at a butler café known as Lady Braganza. In Braganza, the all-male staff act like proper servants as they serve tea and cakes to their predominately female clientele. Within this rarefied setting, the ambience is just as important as the food, so three of our young “footmen” are trainees learning the ins-and-outs of being an old-fashioned manservant. That all five of these happy boys are regular guys away from their job sparks much of the series’ humor.
Thus, in volume one’s first of four episodes (called “drips” to go with the tea motif), we’re shown our fivesome on the job, while the following episode takes us to the apartment where the boys share living quarters. Dorming together is a part of the job: as head butler Katano intones, “You’ll learn to respect each other” living in close quarters. At this point in the story, though, what they mainly do is get on each others’ nerves.
Though the cover to the first volume displays all five footmen, the story focus is primarily on the three trainees: Shiva, Renjo and Ivory. (These are the names of their servant personas: each character has their own name used outside the café — which can get a trifle confusing at first for the reader.) Of the three, Shiva (a.k.a. Kyoichi) struggles most to maintain his role, occasionally speaking in “common form” to the customers, but he’s also the most openhearted. His bespectacled roommate Ivory (Kosuka) is the most knowledgeable but has yet to achieve the proper deferential attitude for the job. Somewhere in between the two is light-haired Renjo (Junta), who claims to have once been the number one man at a “host club” (a bar where male servers attend the female customers). All three have been selected as trainees by the café’s invisible owner, who sees the potential that each has to become a great butler.