I have a confession: for all my expertise in everything romance—in a graphic novel sense, of course—and the world of shoujo, I don’t know of any manga that revolve around Valentine’s Day. It seems like such a basic topic to write about (seriously, what could be more shoujo?!), but even Google-ing “valentines manga” revealed only three manga, and even then I’m stretching it. I guess I should feel lucky that I still had a pool to choose from and at least with three, I was able to pick the most promising easily and get on with my day. That is how I came to read San Yue Tu’s Valentine Lovers. That is how I came to long for the DeviantArt stories whose characterizations seemed more believable than the bullshit this author wants me to believe is passable.
The site I read it from thought it deserved a four star rating. Never have I been so heinously misled in my life.
Hanru Li, the protagonist, leads a difficult life: her mother left her when she was very young and her father seems to only wish for her to disappear as well. Though distraught by the situation, Hanru pours herself into her studies, determined to make her father accept her and finally gain her own place in the Li family. What she really didn’t need, in addition to all the drama going on in her life, was some pervert on the train trying to feel her up.
Before she can show the perv “what high school girls are made of”, a man from the crowd pulls him off her and stands behind her the rest of the journey so she doesn’t have to worry about any more perverts trying the same thing. How nice! She feels like she must repay this person who, to her, feels like the only person in the world who actually cares about her. How does she do this? Does she A) Buy him lunch, B) Thank him an unnecessary amount, or C)Give him a hug and run off?
Trick question: the answer actually was D) Take him to a hotel and try to bang him.
Before the deed is done (I think. It’s hard to tell what actually happened), he gets a call from… someone. Presumably his girlfriend. Before he leaves, he tells Hanru not to do this kind of thing again—bold words from the douchebag that had no trouble with it not even a minute earlier—and leaves her a wad of bills on a bedside table. Insulted and embarrassed, Hanru goes on with her life and the next time we see her she’s at school where word is there’s a new teacher making their debut. I’ll give you three guesses on who that teacher turns out to be and the first two don’t count.
Yes, again we meet with ‘dude from the train’, now known as Shangzhen, who is teaching physics at Hanru’s school and seems to get his jollies out by picking on Hanru in class. She’s angry at him for this, but after knowing him for one day maybe she decides she’s hopelessly in love with him and goes to confess. It doesn’t go well as he doesn’t seem to entirely care and again she leaves, heartbroken. And on that cliffhanger is where the scans stop.
I was going to skip reviewing this manga entirely, but it just made me so goddamned mad. The story is terrible, the art is terrible (in more spots than should be acceptable), and I feel terrible for reading it. There is literally nothing behind this relationship and it’s not even cute. Not. Even. Cute. That’s the whole point of a shoujo and Tu missed the point entirely. The story is too fast paced for the audience to form a bond with the slightly stalkerish Hanru and there is nothing shown that would make the audience sympathize with her either: we don’t see her dad debase her. Hell, we don’t see any other members of her family at all! Her entire character and interactions are entirely centered around this guy and it makes her seem more like a good candidate for therapy rather than a shoujo heroine.
On the site I read it from had one of the other listed genres as ‘harem’, and I honestly fear for where this manga was going if that truly happened to be the case: Shangzhen doesn’t deserve a harem when there’s nothing likable about him. For the time being, only two chapters have been uploaded (yeah, all this stuff happened in less than forty pages) and there have been no other uploads since September of last year. I can only hope this trend of not updating continues because honestly, this manga is awful and I don’t want the translators to have to suffer through whatever contrived reason the author is going to put out for Hanru and Shangzhen to get together.