The One I Love

March 30, 2010 dreamkaleidoscope
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Originally posted on Feb. 13, 2010 at LiveJournal.

TITLE: The One I Love
AUTHOR/MANGAKA: CLAMP
PUBLISHER: Tokyopop
RATING: Teen (13+)
CATEGORY: Josei
NUMBER OF VOLUMES: 1
SCORE: 7 (Good)
RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF: CLAMP (mangaka of numerous titles, including Card Captor Sakura, Wish, Chobits, etc.), romance, slice of life

With Valentine’s Day just a day, it seems the perfect time to review The One I Love, a romantic anthology from superstar mangaka group CLAMP, telling stories of love focusing on a variety of different women, from high school girls to career women and those who are about to get married. (There’s even a Valentine’s Day themed story, making it perfect reading for the holiday.)

The One I Love is a bit different from your typical manga volume. Not only does it contain twelve one-shot short stories — well, actually, they’re more like vignettes than actual stories, coming in at only seven pages each — but after each story, the group’s leader Nanase Ohkawa has written a short essay detailing the inspiration behind each vignette and how they fit into CLAMP’s idea of love. Some of the stories are somewhat autobiographical in nature, based on things that happened in her or one of the other member’s lives, while others were inspired by stories told to Ohkawa by friends and family members. The fact that these vignettes were based on true stories gives a particular ring of truth about them, and even if you can’t personally identify with all the stories, there’s bound to be at least one or two that have you nodding your head, saying, “Yeah, I know exactly how she feels. I’ve felt that way, too.” (Yes, guys included, even though the main character in each story is female and the stories are told from her point-of-view. As some of the vignettes show, men can have the same insecurities, concerns, and worries about their relationships as women do. We’re not so different after all!)

My personal favorite is the vignette about a woman telling her boyfriend how she doesn’t understand the word “cute”. She complains about its vagueness and feels that it’s just something people say as a social nicety, yet whenever her boyfriend tells her that she’s cute, she gets all flustered and happy. For lack of a better word, the vignette is really…cute! (Okay, I can think of a few other words to describe it — adorable, heart-warming, and sweet come to mind — but I couldn’t resist!) I may not feel as strongly about the word “cute” as she does, but I do feel a little happier when somebody I love tells me I’m cute (especially since I don’t think of myself as a particularly “cute” person).    

I also identified with the one about a girl in a long distance relationship and the one about sharing interests with the one you love. My first (and only) romantic relationship was long distance, and while the circumstances were different than those in the vignette, I still sympathized with some of her feelings. As for sharing interests, it was video games in my case. He was a huge video game fanatic, so I became interested in them, too. (Well, maybe re-interested — wait, is that even a word? — is the more appropriate term, since I had always rather liked them. Just didn’t play them much.) The essay following that vignette actually addresses a common misconception some people have when a significant other decides to show interest in their partner’s hobbies. It’s not about becoming someone different, somebody they might like more, as some might see it, and losing your identity; it’s more about sharing and being together with the one you love. Out of all the essays, that was probably my favorite. 

Artwise, it’s CLAMP, so of course it’s gorgeous. Mick Nekoi is credited as the artist for this work, and it’s very similar in style to Wish, which she also drew. While the women are all beautiful and unique, I must admit that some of the men can kind of look a bit identical at times, a fact Nekoi admits to in the amusing omake comic at the end of the volume. But that’s really only a minor complaint. What’s really wonderful is that the first vignette (along with the title page featuring a drawing of all twelve women) is rendered completely in color. The effect is beautiful, and I wish the rest of the vignettes had been done the same. That would have been amazing, but, oh, well.

I think those who are already CLAMP fans (like I am) will really enjoy this anthology, but I don’t think it’ll hold as much appeal to non-fans. However, if you’re in the mood for some warm and fuzzy romance that doesn’t require a huge commitment, this title may be just what you’re looking for. You may even learn something about love.

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