Ninako Kinoshita is a fairly normal high school girl. She gossips about boys with her friends, specifically the school idol, the handsome and mysterious Ren Ichinose. Ren is quiet, aloof, never smiles, and is exceptionally good looking. In short, the perfect guy to get all the girls’ hearts fluttering. Even Ninako. But according to her friends, she shouldn’t be fawning over Ren, because she has Daiki – a long time friend whom everyone insists she will eventually end up with. And since all of her friends say so, she must be in love with him. However, the feelings they describe she soon starts feeling for Ren, when he gives her a pretty cell phone charm to replace the one he breaks on accident during a train ride home. Soon, their eyes begin to casually meet, and they end up next to each other on the train once again. He even smiles at her. Soon she begins to notice how kind Ren really is, though he is very subtle about it. Helping her, but making excuses to cover it up. Like pretending to be asleep on the train so he purposefully misses his stop in order to walk an injured Ninako home. Ninako is falling in love, and Daiki starts to take notice. While Daiki has not confessed his feelings, Ninako has had an inkling of them for some time, and she’s worried about hurting him. However, before she gathers the courage to talk to him herself, Daiki comes to her. Unfortunately, he senses he may be too late, and decides he’s not quite ready to hear her answer. He is, however, ready to protect Ninako in his way, and interrupts an opportune moment between her and Ren to announce that Ren already has a girlfriend – Daiki’s sister. To Daiki’s disappointment, that information changes nothing. Ninako understands that she may have no chance with Ren, but she still loves him, and those feelings can’t just be turned off. In the end, she’s thankful just to be able to experience and finally learn what being in love feels like.
I think I’m getting too old for these sickly sweet and innocent shoujo love stories. It’s been, golly, at least seventeen years since I struggled with first loves and trying to identify what that meant and blah blah blah. I don’t even remember that anymore. Though that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy something adorable like this. I must admit that I was worried about Ninako at first. Early on she comes across as a girl with no independent thought, someone whose own opinions and feelings are based on what her friends tell her she should be feeling (or even complete strangers). Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case. She is a touch naive, but no more than Japanese manga would lead me to believe a typical high school girl should be. She’s also passionate, willing to throw her entire self behind what she believes in. She’s growing up, she’s learning new things, she’s experiencing all the fun things adolescent life has to offer – from first loves to unfortunate pimples. It’s pretty cute, so far, in a fluffy, innocent way. Nowhere near as sickly sweet and adorable as Kimi ni Todoke. Not as funny as Skip Beat! And not as overly dramatic as We Were There. It’s somewhere in between. Definitely a good title for teen girls. The art is clean and simple, though it took me a few pages to figure out which girl was Ninako. Plenty of shoujo sparkles. Ninako is cute, if a little plain, and the two main boys are stupidly handsome. Ren is kind and gentle, Daiki is outgoing and friendly with everyone. It’s fairly standard, really. Nothing about it really makes it stand out from any other similar title yet, however. Maybe that will change with a couple more volumes.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.