Fall in Love Like a Comic

April 13, 2010 dreamkaleidoscope
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TITLE: Fall in Love Like a Comic
AUTHOR/MANGAKA: Chitose Yagami
PUBLISHER: Viz
RATING: Older Teen (16+)
CATEGORY: Shoujo
NUMBER OF VOLUMES: 2
SCORE: 6 (Fine)
RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF: Chitose Yagami, romance, comedy

I suspect a good number of readers have fantasized at one time or another about falling in love with a guy just like the perfect, pretty boy love interests often seen in shoujo manga. I know I certainly have — Helios, Toya, Night, Hatori, Hotohori, Yasu, Mamoru… Ahem, where was I again? Oh, yeah, bishounen. Like George. And Takumi. And Shigure. … Okay, maybe those last few aren’t exactly boyfriend material, but bad boys can be fun, too…

Seriously, enough drooling. Yes, you over there. It’s time to move onto the review.

Fall in Love Like a Comic stars high school girl Rena Sakura, who also happens to moonlight as a professional mangaka of steamy shoujo comics. (Although I have to wonder how steamy they can be when she thinks kissing and hugging is risque.) Despite the subject of her manga, Rena has never actually had a boyfriend or been in love, so her editor suggests it might be a good idea for her to get some real romantic experience under her belt in order to improve her stories.

Enter Tomoya Okita, the cutest boy at Rena’s school. When he discovers her secret life as a shoujo mangaka after finding some naughty scenes she accidentally left behind at school, Rena decides he’s the perfect guy to get some romantic experience with and asks him out. Though flirty Tomoya is famous around school for always turning girls down, he actually accepts her offer and agrees to help her out by becoming her boyfriend. Soon after, however, Rena’s feelings toward him become more than simply professional. Could he be feeling the same about her?

Obviously, yes. This is shoujo manga, after all, and Yagami does nothing to rock the boat in regards to what is expected from the genre. Cliche after cliche abound. Classmate deciding to bully Rena for “stealing” Tomoya away from the rest of the girls who want him? Check. Rena and Tomoya waking up in bed together, despite nothing happening between them? Check. Rena mistaking Tomoya’s sister for a girlfriend? Check. Rena getting jealous when Tomoya has to kiss another girl when acting in a TV drama based on one of her manga? Check. An ex-girlfriend suddenly showing back up in Tomoya’s life? Check. The most cliche of cliche romantic endings, albeit with a minor twist? Check.

You get the picture. I think the only non-cliche thing that happens in the entire story is when Rena and Tomoya go on a trip together, and Rena decides she’s ready to take their relationship to the next level. You’d expect Tomoya to be excited about that, as most teenage boys his age would be, but in a twist, he’s the one not ready for sex and tells Rena they should wait. I rather liked that chapter. It’s nice to see a teenage boy not portrayed as a horndog for once. (And, on a purely shallow note, Tomoya in the shower = sexy!)

But even that serves to show just how “perfect” Tomoya is. Rena often tells him that he’s just like the perfect guy in a shoujo manga — something he hates being compared with — but he really is. I can’t think of a single flaw in him. Maybe if Rena had been given another love interest to compete against him, we might have seen an uglier side to him, but Rena is the only one given the chance to be jealous or angry. It’s definitely a story where the ordinary, flawed girl gets her dream guy — total wish fulfillment.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Despite all my criticism, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Tomoya and Rena make a cute couple, it has some great humor (especially when Rena literally “melts” in Tomoya’s arms), and I liked learning about the life of a mangaka. (Not only do we see Rena’s life as a mangaka, but a bonus section in the second volume explains the steps to drawing a manga.) I just wish it was more Fall in Love Like a Real Person than Fall In Love Like a Comic. It seems rather counterintuitive to me to have Rena’s editor suggest she get some real experience in love, only to put her in a fairy tale romance with the perfect guy. What is she going to learn from that?

On the plus side, Yagami’s artwork is really cute. Granted, Rena’s eyes probably could stand to be a little smaller, and she looks a tad too young to be a high school student, but Tomoya has a great look to him. What Yagami really excels at, though, are the kissing scenes. You can really tell she loves drawing them, because she draws them often — I don’t think a chapter passes by without Tomoya and Rena kissing at least once — and she draws them well. Really well.  

Really, really well.

Ahem.

Overall, I liked this short series, but felt there was too much wasted potential. Recommended for fans of fluffy romance only. Otherwise, you may overdose on the sugar.

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