Monday, July 13, 2009

Fall in Love Like a Comic, vol. 1

The story: On the surface, Rena Sakura seems like any other high school girl. Only, she's got a secret -- she's a mangaka! Even though she's the creator of a super popular and smutty shojo manga, she's never had a boyfriend. When Tomoya, one of the most popular boys in school, finds out about her secret, Rena asks him to help her create a better manga by becoming her boyfriend.

Reaction: While this isn't a formulaic manga per se, it does carry many of the hallmarks of a typical high school shojo romance. And not in a good way. Rena is so shy and unsure of herself, all the while excited to research romance for her manga while simultaneously being surprised by her one-sided feelings for Tomoya. It's kind of annoying in its own way. While Tomoya is fairly forward with Rena, I found him to be too perfect. Which was annoying, too.

Deep thoughts: I thought the premise of writing a manga about a teenage mangaka the most interesting thing about this book. While it seems improbable for an American high schooler to draw a monthly comic, it's not completely unheard of, either. Adrian Tomine, who edited Good-bye for Drawn & Quarterly, wrote and drew his Optic Nerve series as a teenager. Admittedly, it would be quite the time commitment to attend school full-time and to keep a regular comic going, too.

Artwork: This is stereotypical shojo artwork at its worst -- big-eyed, overly cute girls and cool guys with perfectly tousled hair. Not to mention the excessive use of toner and unexplained floating flowers in every other panel. Then again, this is written for younger girls than myself, so the art may appeal to them if they have an idealized view of romance.

The verdict: Meh. This is an overly cute story with little to no depth to it. If you know any tweens who want to become artists or fantasize about meeting the perfect guy, this is the story for them. Fall in Love Like a Comic is available in the U.S. from Viz.

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