There will be spoilers for the manhua series Bug Boy Boyfriend.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to bullying, violence, and death as it appears in the manhua.
Xiao Fan is your average high school student… or at least she wishes she was. In actuality, she is the daughter of a venomage – a shaman who uses nature and the venom of animals for various experiments. Though Xiao comes from a line of powerful venomagi, Xiao herself couldn’t care less about it and would rather pretend like it didn’t exist. This is primarily due to the stigma around venomagi. They are discriminated against and generally hated by the general population, which is why Xiao does everything in her power to hide the fact that her mother is one.
Unfortunately, this becomes much more complicated once Xiao’s mother creates a human-type venomal – a living creature made up of venom, animals, or other natural properties. This venomal is a moth-boy who goes by Yamu. As a recently manufactured bug-human hybrid, Yamu is prone to causing trouble whether he tries to or not. While Xiao is vehemently against his very existence, Yamu is inexplicably drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
As much as she doesn’t want to, Xiao grows attached to Yamu, and they quickly form a bond. However, because Yamu is a rare hybrid venomal, he quickly draws the attention of many other dangerous venomagic practitioners who want his power for their own venomals. Yamu isn’t the only one in danger, though. As it turns out, Xiao, though she never wanted anything to do with venomagic, is destined to a fate that could force her away from everything she loves.
First off, let me just talk about this art – SUPER cute. Unfortunately, I have found that manhua stereotypically does not have the best art or stories when compared to manga or manhwa. Bug Boy Boyfriend, though, absolutely shows out. It is beautiful from beginning to end with super cute character designs. If you like art, this is an excellent manhua for the artwork. You won’t be disappointed.
The story is also not something to turn your nose up at. Admittedly, I was a bit turned off by the idea of “venomagic” and “venomals.” It sounded like a joke, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get into it, but it really grew on me, especially when I saw Yamu. He is 100% my type, a pretty boy with long hair and animal characteristics. Call me a freak. That is fine, but I am just being real. If he is your type, too, I highly recommend you check out another manhua I’ve read called Kitty Boy, which is another story with an attractive human hybrid male lead. While it does sound childish, the concept becomes pretty exciting and unique when we meet other venomals and see how they form relationships with their practitioners. Having a bug boy as the male lead doesn’t seem like it would be such a good idea, but I fell in love with Yamu, no problem.
Something that Kitty Boy loses out on, outside of art quality, in comparison to Bug Boy Boyfriend is the story. The story is much more robust, thanks to its smaller scope. While we do hear about a much larger world regarding venomagi and the discrimination they face, the scope of the story in Bug Boy Boyfriend is honed in to just focus on Xiao and her coming to terms with her own identity as the daughter of venomage. This really helps keep the story in check, whereas in Kitty Boy, the scope was much too broad, and it got lost in the world.
However, as much as I did enjoy the story and loved the art, this suffers from what I am calling “unsatisfying ending syndrome.” The action and story ramp up pretty heavily during the second season, which really sets us up for some grand ending with Yamu and Xiao finally reuniting and Xiao coming to terms with her familial ties to venomagic. Instead, what we get is a relatively lackluster ending scene. Thankfully, it is confirmed that Xiao and Yamu do reunite, but that is as far as it gets. There is a lovely confession after all the built-up romantic tension and sacrifice Yamu makes, but there isn’t much after that. We just get an enthusiastic embrace, and that is the end. What makes the ending for Xiao and Yamu so lackluster is how we see the side couples living their lives together in their own way when all we get for Yamu and Xiao is that they see each other again. I would have really liked something a bit more padded out. Even if it ended up just being an extra episode or epilogue, I think something more for the main couple would have made a considerable difference in the quality of the ending.
While I did end the review on a sour note, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from checking this out. This is a top-tier manhua and definitely deserves more praise than I think it has received. I will recommend this to anyone who hasn’t had a chance to try out manhua, and for those who have, I would ask that you give this one a chance because it is definitely worth a read. The journey was so worth it.
Have you read Bug Boy Boyfriend? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!