The One I Love

This short volume (roughly half the size of a typical manga collection, although at the same price) promises 12 short stories with matching essays. Calling them stories, though, is something of an exaggeration — with only seven pages of art each, they’re more like short scenes.

The book opens with a two-page color spread featuring the 12 girls from the stories. They have the same faces, but their hairstyles and dresses differ widely. They each hold a different type of flower, adding another layer of symbolism, although one I’m unfamiliar with.

The One I Love cover
The One I Love
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The subjects of the chapters include how words have different meanings when a loved one says them, women being insecure about dating younger men, falling in love with one’s boss, worrying about Valentine’s Day, and having a long-distance relationship. The showpiece story, in color, is about wearing different clothes in order to become a different person to make it easier to apologize. It’s a neat idea, but that’s all it is.

Some raise concern, like the one that justifies having an interest in whatever your boyfriend likes. Several of the girls become obsessive, damaging their relationships even when they know that’s what they’re doing. The author notes at the end also point out how the artist draws everyone, even those supposed to be older, as teenagers.

The essays quickly become redundant. Most simply say that the writer had a similar experience to the incident shown. They’re also full of generalizations about what girls do, reinforcing traditional expectations. There’s not enough space to deal in more than stereotypes, and so the stories lack emotional impact unless one sees themselves in them.

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