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Friday, July 27, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania:My Love Story!!, Vol. 1 by Kazune Kawahara Illustrated by Aruko

My Love Story!!, Vol. 1
by Kazune Kawahara
Illustrated by Aruko
July 1, 2014
184 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media: Shojo Beat
(Ore Monogatari!!)
Genre: Romantic comedy
Volumes 13
Takeo Goda is a GIANT guy with a GIANT heart.

Too bad the girls don’t want him! (They want his good-looking best friend, Sunakawa.)

Used to being on the sidelines, Takeo simply stands tall and accepts his fate. But one day when he saves a girl named Yamato from a harasser on the train, his (love!) life suddenly takes an incredible turn!

Takeo can hardly believe it when he crosses paths with Yamato again, and he finds himself falling in love with her… But with handsome Sunakawa around, does Takeo even stand a chance?

Ever get tired of the same set up of pretty people fumbling around and getting together? Weeell, let’s take a look at this week’s title!

My Love Story! takes traditional romantic comedy tropes and tilts them just enough. Takeo would be the scary-looking comic relief or maaaybe the sidekick in any other manga. He looks intimidating, but is actually conscientious, polite, and basically has the good soul you want in a romantic lead. Unfortunately, every girl he likes is into his good-looking, socially adept friend Makoto. Enter Rinko: a shy, petite, cute girl who also likes to cook.

Yes, I do actually read things like this. Shut up.

This has all the tropes of high school shojo mixed in with a lot of romantic comedy staples: meetcutes, misunderstandings, fumbling relationships, all the good stuff. The difference is that the two leads aren’t really adept at dating life and have to be steered along. Rinko may look more like a traditional type of heroine, but she’s a little more naïve than most, at least at first. Then again, so is Takeo. 

For me, the real gem of this story is Matsuko. I love that instead of making him the smarmy friend who turns out to be competition for Takeo, he helps his bud get the girl, and keeps getting roped into helping Takeo out because Takeo’s never really dated before and is just clueless. Like seriously, I know it’s comedy, but I feel for the poor guy. So Matsuko becomes this well-meaning, but put-upon character that Rinko and Takeo are always depending on. And then they start wondering what’s wrong with him because he really doesn’t care too much about dating or have his eye on anyone. It’s also really nice to see that other characters are into Takeo, so Riko isn’t a total anomaly or a pity girlfriend. This is a cast that has characters that see the good characteristics in each other, which is refreshing.
I also get why the character designs are the way they are, but I do kinda wish some of them were refined in later volumes, because to me, the constant over-playing of Takeo’s physical attributes is a one-note joke that gets played out by like the second or third volume. It’s like…in Baby & Me there came a point where Gon just became Gon and wasn’t all that noticeable even though he was designed to look more brutish than Takuya and co. But I just couldn’t get to that point with Takeo, and I feel like it got brought up fairly constantly, too. Isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is kind of the hinge point of the series, but I just found it a little wearing.

Honestly, I forget how many volumes I lasted, but I ended up stopping on this one and not feeling all that bad about it, mostly because it was very episodic and felt like it was always going to stay at the same fumbling, figuring things out point. Again, not bad, but I don’t need a million volumes of the same set up on repeat. I genuinely like the three main characters, there just came a point where they weren’t as interesting to me as those in other series were.

However, I do absolutely think it’s worth a look. This is an unusual take on the genre, and I really like that the characters are supportive of each other and not trying to take each other down like in other titles. For that alone, it’s worth it. There’s some genuinely great humor, as well, and it could be that I’ll eventually go back to it when I’m more in the mood for that sort of thing.

For cute, unusual romantic comedy, definitely give this a flip through.

3 romantically fumbling sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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