Rating: 5/5 – A Decidedly Different Shoujo Story.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
I consider myself fairly genre-savvy when it comes to manga, even shoujo (girls) manga. Lord knows I’ve read enough books about a young high-school girl’s pursuit of love and popularity enough to know what to expect before I even have to turn the next page. It’s not that these stories are bad or boring, but they follow a fairly straightforward template where often only the names and settings need change (with the occasional bump in the road to keep things interesting). So when I saw the premise of My Love Story, where the focus isn’t on a young girl’s pursuit of romance, but with a big gorilla of man as the central character, I had to pick it up.
Takeo Goda is a big, burly high schooler with a unibrow, brutish mannerisms, and absolutely no idea about how to fall in love. That he’s best friends with the painfully beautiful Sunakawa, the kid who makes all the girls swoon, is a source of mystery to everyone but the two of them (they’ve been buddies since they were kids). Because of his brutish manner, girls tended to shun Takeo, or make fun of him, so he’d resigned himself to living without love, but didn’t seem overly unhappy about the idea. His heart is always in the right place, and everyone who really knows him knows that as well. He felt it was enough that he could find someone to make his friend Sunakawa, who doesn’t seem at all interested in pursuing anyone, happy.
Enter Yamato, a girl Takeo and Sunakawa rescue from being groped on a train. In a move similar to another manga, Densha Otoko, Yamato wants to thank Takeo and gives him a gift. Takeo, oblivious, thinks the gift is for both him and Sunakawa (who actually did nothing during the groping because Takeo handled it all), and drags his friend along with him to accept it. Because he’s clueless about Yamato’s feelings (which are obvious to everyone else), Takeo continues to drag his friend along to their meetups, and because he can’t imagine a girl as cute as Yamato ever falling for him, he begins to talk up Sunakawa to her in the hopes that they’ll get together.
What makes this book, or at least this first volume, so much fun is that it doesn’t feel compelled to throw in a twist or turn that you often see in a shoujo book to keep things interesting. Sunakawa doesn’t suddenly take an interest in Yamato, driving a wedge between Takeo and him. Yamato doesn’t have an ulterior motive for loving Takeo…she honestly thinks he’s the one for her. It seems that throughout the book every time I found myself waiting for it to fall into one of the genre’s trappings, it took an active role to show me it was avoiding them. All the while telling me a cute love story along the way, with moments both heartwarming and laugh out loud funny.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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