Title: My Love Story
Author: Kazune Kawahara (story), Aruko (art)
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 3, $9.99
Vintage: 2012 by Shueisha, January 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy, slice-of-life
The large, burly Takeo is best friends with pretty boy Sunakawa. Girls love Sunakawa, but find Takeo frightening and ugly. In reality, Takeo is about the sweetest person you could meet, while Sunakawa is surprisingly anti-social. Whenever Takeo does something nice for someone, only Sunakawa is thanked while Takeo is ignored. But when Takeo saves a girl named Yamato from a molester on a train, his life suddenly changes. Yamato is head over heels for Takeo, and thinks he’s incredibly cool. Neither of them is really sure just how to have a relationship, however, which leads to many misunderstandings and adorably embarrassing situations. Volume 3 opens up with a picnic date…after a mountain hike. Yamato is thrilled just to spend time with Takeo, even when they fall off a cliff. While Takeo worries about getting Yamato home safely, Yamato frets about being alone with him overnight. Meanwhile, Takeo’s parents are entirely unconcerned that their son hasn’t come home, Sunakawa is oblivious, and Yamato’s friends think they’re spending the night together. Innocence reigns supreme with Takeo and Yamato. Up next is the predictable shojo beach trip, but both Takeo and Yamato are so innocent that they’re barely able to look at each other. Suna steps in to calm Takeo down, and they’re able to have fun and spend some time alone together. There’s even a love confession! Suna doesn’t get left out, either, as Takeo and Yamato plan a fun-filled day as a surprise for his birthday. Unfortunately the day ends with Takeo rescuing a former classmate he had feelings for, and having to explain things to Yamato. It’s a bit of a bump in the road, but Takeo’s kindness is ultimately one of the things Yamato loves most about him. The volume wraps up with Suna helping Takeo study so he can attend the same college as Yamato. There’s just one little problem with their university of choice….
I’m just going to gush about how much I love this manga, OK? Like Suna; Suna is the greatest friend. He doesn’t date any of the girls who ask him out, because they all talk badly about Takeo. Then there’s the way he smiles and/or laughs when Takeo is being super sweet and/or ridiculous. So cute. This manga is so WHOLESOME, and I love it. Takeo is absolutely ridiculous in every way, but he’s incredibly lovable. A lot of that is due to how he’s drawn. Yes, he’s massive, like a big gorilla, but he is the sweetest, kindest teddy bear. Yamato is adorable, too, of course. She gets so excited whenever Takeo does anything cool. Her heart pounds, she blushes like crazy, she thinks he is the greatest thing on Earth. There are so many great touches in the artwork, and Aruko doesn’t let Takeo’s size get in the way. In fact, it’s used to amusing effect. Takeo frequently wears plain t-shirts, and the creators use the space for sound effects and emotional asides. It’s used to great effect in volume 2; less so in volume 3 (notably a talking, fast-pounding heart appears in a couple panels; and they say things like “mountain” when they go hiking, and “gambler” while Takeo is studying for exams). This manga is going to make you laugh and smile. It’s definitely one of the best new titles out right now. Sweet, funny, heartwarming, charming, simple. As long as Kawahara and Aruko can keep the story at this level and keep it interesting, this could easily become one of my favorite titles. At three volumes, I’m not bored yet, even though nothing really happens. Just everyday events and a slowly progressing relationship. My Love Story is refreshing, and a great addition to the Shojo Beat line.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.