With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I figured it would be appropriate to review another shojou manga. …Who am I kidding? I was going to do that anyway, but I’ll take any excuse I can get. And boy, do I need an excuse for this one. Back in the day when I used to subscribe to Shojou Beat magazine, there was a preview for this story and maybe it was the main character’s horrendously big eyes that got to me but I fell in love with it. Fell in love despite the fact that it’s probably about the most cliché, contrived shojou manga in this modern era. Readers, I would like to introduce you to Chitose Yagami’s two volume l♥ve-l♥ve fest, Fall in Love Like a Comic.
Our protagonist is Rena Sakura—it’s already starting to sound like a bad fanfiction, isn’t it?—who suffers from ‘looking five years younger than you actually are’-itis, is in high school, and is also secretly a manga artist for a popular magazine. In addition to being really cute, Rena is also hardworking, has a really good friend, and is incredibly silly. Basically she’s the everygirl. Her comic, unoriginally titled ‘Girl in Love ♥’, is incredibly popular but in a shocking turn of events we find that Rena has never had a boyfriend! Gasp! Thus, to improve the quality of her comic she ends up employing the help of the popular, athletic, perfect-in-every-way Tomoya Okita.
As you have probably guessed already yes, they do fall in love. In fact, it happens in chapter three (which is only half-way through the first volume!). I use the term ‘fall in love’ very loosely because Rena is definitely in lust and I honestly don’t know what Tomoya’s deal is. The only thing he knows about her is that she’s cute, she draws manga, and that she’s very excitable. Maybe it’s too much to expect a little depth here, but it is Yagami’s sixth manga series. So, if the main conflict is essentially solved by not even the end of the first volume, what’s the rest of the story? Let me sum it up for you.
[Insert event that makes it seem like Tomoya is cheating on or uninterested in Rena]
Rena: OMG! I should have guessed! He doesn’t understaaaaaaand!!! *cries*
Tomoya: Rena, u r wrong!
Tomoya: Rena, I luv u 5eva. *kisses her*
Rena: K *giggles*
No, seriously. The rest of it is filler until the end. In fact, the end could be considered filler. Since the first volume doesn’t even end on a cliffhanger, one could just stop there and the story wouldn’t suffer at all. However, in the second volume there actually is one story arc that gives the relationship some depth.
The happy couple and their friends are going on a trip together so Rena gets it in her head that to deepen the relationship between the two of them they’re going to have sex. Rena tries to seduce Tomoya the entire trip (which amounts to her just looking stupid), eventually cornering him in the shower and telling him how she feels and what she wants. Surprisingly, they don’t have sex instead opting to wait until later. Although Tomoya directly says, “We’re going to wait until I’m ready”, I feel as though this is for both of their benefits rather than him being selfish. It’s obvious that Rena isn’t as ready as she thinks she is as she cannot even handle kissing him without becoming a flustered moe-blob. Literally. Also, this sends a really good message to the readers that sex isn’t the only way to deepen or intensify a relationship. That an emotional connection that involves an understanding between each other is more important than the physical. That it’s okay to not do it. It’s also refreshing to see the male be the one to refuse the sexual advances, especially in a shojou manga. In addition to that, Rena is not shamed for her sexual desires and it’s treated as it should be: a normal occurrence and something to be explored at a later time. For this arc alone, I have to give Yagami credit.
However, that credit fades away slightly when [spoilers] the comic ends on a wedding! A fucking wedding! They haven’t even been in the relationship for a year, they haven’t graduated high school, they’re not even telling their parents and they’re getting married!! It’s so cliché. And there’s nothing leading up to it either! They have a fight where Rena is ignoring Tomoya’s calls because she thinks he’s falling back in love with his ex-girlfriend—her tutor—and then bam! Wedding! What the hell?!
As much as I love this series, I can’t recommend it in good faith. The art ranges from decent to ‘why is their face melting?’ and the story is just not strong at all. Even the bonus stories at the back of the manga aren’t very good. However, if you want something that doesn’t require any brain power to enjoy or just is some meaningless fluff, this comic just may be your godsend.