Fall in Love Like a Comic Books 1-2

I stumbled across Fall in Love Like a Comic thanks to the sample chapter available in the Viz Manga app. The premise, about a high schooler who’s also a manga creator and needs some experience with real-life love, reminded me of Missions of Love. Fall in Love Like a Comic, though, is fluffier, a lot cuter in presentation, and shorter, complete in two volumes.

Rena draws “manga that’s a little risque’… with kissing and hugging”. (Snicker. I think our definitions of “sexy manga” differ.) However, she’s never dated. Tomoya is the local pretty boy, although he turns down the girls who ask him out. The two bump into each other at school, which leads to Rena dropping some draft pages and Tomoya finding them. Since they involve a nude scene (ok, maybe Rena isn’t all that innocent), he threatens to reveal her secret career, and the two start dating.

He quickly pushes her into physical contact, which is typical of this type of story. It gives the heroine (and by extension, the reader) an excuse to enjoy the events without feeling responsible for them, without having to make a decision or take initiative.

Rena’s editor encourages her to “add depth to [her] work by experiencing real love,” which strikes me as a troublesome dictate. Not from the implications of pimping out the author, since it’s too light-hearted for that, but because most people can’t find “real love” just by declaring they will.

The style here is very young-girly. Rena has huge eyes and is drawn to resemble a middle-schooler more than a high school girl. This story seems aimed at a younger reader, too, with all the encounters very innocent and the events handled superficially. Situations are introduced abruptly, exaggerated for drama (as when a classmate hires thugs to beat Rena up out of jealousy), and disposed of within a few pages. Coincidences abound. We know next to nothing about Tomoya — he’s only a “prince”, a perfect fantasy boy, there to take care of Rena and fulfill her dreams.

And the fantasies keep coming. Halfway through the first book, Rena’s manga gets picked up for a TV show, and Tomoya gets to star — which leads to jealousy over his kissing scenes with the female lead. Rena’s so naive throughout that she doesn’t even think about the fact that she’s the one who wrote those scenes in the first place! Even when the topic of sex rears its head early in book two, he’s the one that makes the decision based totally on what she wants but doesn’t realize.

The second volume is almost a series of short stories with the characters, based around shojo cliches. The couple go on a vacation trip with friends, watch summer fireworks, and discover that Rena’s tutor used to be Tomoya’s girlfriend. A flashforward story shows them as adults, plus the book has a stand-alone magical girl backup and some illustrated notes on drawing manga.

This story takes on new context when I learned (thanks to the author’s notes) that it came out early in Chitose Yagami’s manga career. (Her first manga story, “Magical Project”, is included as a backup in book one.) The “young woman who has no life beyond making manga” then starts seeming like her telling us about the only thing she knows, instead of seeming like a well-considered choice.

This is truly cotton candy manga, so light and fluffy that you barely remember consuming it. I’d say it’s fun entertainment, but it’s so unrealistic — particularly in his behavior — that I’m concerned about the little girls attracted to the images not understanding just how much of an unrealistic fantasy Tomoya is.

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