From Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals or the much longer Japanese title ‘Yatara to Sasshi no Ii Ore wa, Dokuzetsu Kuudere Bishoujo no Chiisana Dere mo Minogasazu ni Guigui Iku’ is a sweet romance-comedy by Sametaro Fukada (also known as Otsukai Shimono). While this is his English light novel debut courtesy of Tentai Books, he’s known for a number of other light novels such as Maou to Hime to Ecchi no Hon and Sekai no Teki no Over Spec!
Meeting the Queen of Thorns
The prologue of From Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals (or Toxic Classmate for short) sets the tone of the relationship immediately.
While not admitting it, Koyuki has been waiting around for Naoya, eager for him to finish class. As soon as possible, she emerges, only to throw an insult or two in, before an adamant denial of wanting to go home together. She comes off so strongly as a tsundere that Rie Kugimiya could voice her in an anime adaption.
In turn, our protagonist Naoya bluntly calls her out on how she was waiting for him and wants to go back together. He’s quick to figure out what she wants.
It’s a really amusing dynamic, and one that had me laughing out loud at several points.
The First Encounter
While the prologue skips ahead, chapter one sets readers back to the start of this relationship and gives us some more context.
Koyuki Shirogane is sharp-tongued enough to be known as the “Queen of Thorns”. While she’s actually a nice person underneath it all, she’s terrible at interacting with people, and instead verbally cuts them down when she gets embarrassed.
Naoya comes across her being hit on by a university student and helps her out. His special ability is deduction so strong that he can accurately make assumptions about people. This lets him both figure out the university student’s lies instantly, and see what Koyuki really means behind her mean remarks. While not quite as exaggerated, his deduction abilities reminded me of a certain famous detective.
Koyuki ends up searching Naoya out to repay him for his help, leading to a pseudo-date. Toxic Classmate moves the romance along extremely early. By page 16, he’s figured out that she likes him. By page 24, he’s admitted that he’ll probably fall for her too. Despite this, it throws up a variety of issues, which blocks a romantic relationship and helps to keep the story engaging.
As a tsundere, Koyuki won’t admit that she likes Naoya. Instead, she claims that she’ll make him fall for her (not that she likes him or anything!). On the other side, Naoya’s ability makes him wary of romance. He usually turns everyone down upfront, feeling that he’ll start hyper-analyzing any romantic partner.
Challenges and Support
While the romance starts quickly in From Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals, it’s clear that neither of the characters knows what they’re doing. Koyuki has her own issues, while Naoya struggles to understand his own feelings at first.
As many light novel protagonists do, Naoya comes with a male and female friend who are dating. While we don’t see much of them, they help to push things along. On the other hand, Koyuki’s family does throw up some small challenges along the way.
Through these sorts of events, we get to see moments where Naoya struggles, breaking a feeling that he’s perfect at times aside from a lack of tact. Koyuki’s jealous and airheaded sides start to come out more often too. I enjoyed seeing new reactions of these characters.
While I want to avoid spoilers, I will say that Koyuki’s sister adds quite a lot whenever she’s in the scene and her dynamic with the main couple is a lot of fun. Another character who appeared near the end has a surprising reaction to the couple too, and their first meeting with Naoya was hilarious.
Everything’s Coming Up Naoya!
Naoya has his own growth, but the most notable change is how Koyuki acts. She starts as very harsh with biting comments, even when she clearly likes Naoya. While this never disappears and she remains a tsundere, it certainly lightens up quickly. This gives room for more sweet romantic moments to emerge, even if their personalities often get in the way.
Just generally too, things often seem to go Naoya’s way, with people quickly growing to like him and things often working out well for him, other than one particular thing. With volume one of Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals mostly focusing on meeting new people and sometimes overcoming challenges to the growth of their relationship, it makes me wonder what the future volumes might introduce to keep things exciting.
The artist Fumi created the illustrations for From Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals. With four color illustrations at the start and several grayscale ones throughout, it highlighted some important scenes.
Koyuki is well known for her almost unreal beauty, which I felt was well represented in the artwork, and she had some great embarrassed expressions. A couple of the pieces of art are a little lewd, with a pantyshot being visible in one. Generally aside from this and a few of Naoya’s thoughts, Toxic Classmate is pretty wholesome though.
If purchasing the physical edition of From Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals, you can get bookmarks and a postcard, as Tentai Books typically offer. These look great and they’re nice collectibles to display. It’s possible to buy the extras alone too.
The book is 19cm tall and 13cm wide, which is the newer Tentai Books format. The font and design fit well with the other more recent books too, so it looks good on the bookshelf. The paper quality seems good too, as does the print quality of the images.
I spent a lot of time laughing as I read volume 1 of From Toxic Classmate to Girlfriend Goals. The comedy is certainly on point, but the romance and dynamics between the characters are what I’ll remember most. I’m hoping that the future installments of this light novel series are just as good.
FROM TOXIC CLASSMATE TO GIRLFRIEND GOALS VOL.1 IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Tentai Books who provided a review copy of this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.