Manga-ka: Aya Nakahara
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2007
Synopsis: “Risa Koizumi is the tallest girl in class, and the last thing she wants is the humiliation of standing next to Atsushi Ôtani, the shortest guy. Fate and the whole school have other ideas, and the two find themselves cast as the unwilling stars of a bizarre romantic comedy duo. Rather than bow to the inevitable, Risa and Atsushi join forces to pursue their true objects of affection. But will their budding friendship become something more complex?”
Above average in height, Risa Koizumi wonders if she’ll ever be able to enjoy the normalcy of an average stature. The only one who seems to understand her is Atsushi Otani, the shortest boy in their class. Seeing worlds from different views, and arguing on nearly every one, the two manage to come to an agreement when being in love is involved – as long as it’s not with each other.
The dynamic between Risa and Atsushi is amusing, if not seemingly foreshadowed heavily in the eventual relationship department. The two fight like cats and dogs and it’s this constant vibrant interaction that garners both cause for their friends’ assumptions and entertainment for the readers. It doesn’t take long for their classmates to peg them as a couple which is understandably frustrating for a pair putting so much of their energy into catching the eyes of their respective crushes.
Throughout the book both Risa and Atsushi seek to catch the eye of the two students they each have a crush on. Unfortunately in their attempts to spend more time together, they’ve accidentally set all the wrong wheels into motion. Individual scenarios in this first volume of Love Com do have a considerable amount of humour to them, plus the occasional overlay of drama, but there still lacks a real sense of tension or conflict. Everything’s a little too easy to deduce and it all moves along a little too predictably.
The artwork of Love Com does manage a little more impact. It has a notably open look to it, with some backgrounds even more sparsely detailed, or in some cases non-existent, than your average shoujo manga is notorious for. It’s thankfully never so much as to trip-up over location and it actually gives the series a nice clean look to it most of the time. As a result, the characters themselves pop off the page and they themselves have some more memorable qualities.
Risa is pleasantly average in appearance – a welcome site when often a visually gorgeous character design serves as a pullout from the story when used to depict someone supposedly average-looking in context. She’s expressive and entertaining by result as well. On the other hand, we have Atsushi. His posture and emotive body language works for his character but the wide-shadowed shape of his mouth always gives his face a sort of frog-like quality that somehow manages to come across as both out of place and more than a little creepy. Seeing him next to other students in the school does at least have the intended impact of problems he faces with his height – and simple things, like not being able to reach a box on a shelf, may seem inconsequential to some, but are understandably upsetting for him.
Love Com volume one proves a fairly good read in the short term, with numerous scenes offering up their fair share of comedy and strife, but ultimately the whole book plays out too one-directionally and in turn feels rather dull. Too much responsibility is placed on Risa and Atsushi’s personal issues regarding height and there just isn’t enough substance there to successfully hook readers. Giving volume two a chance may reward with a much-needed boon but based on this first volume, readers won’t miss much looking elsewhere for a sharp start in Viz’s Shojo Beat line-up.