My Love Story!! Volume 2
Now that the massively masculine Takeo and the delightfully delicate Yamato have realized they like each other, as we saw in volume 1, we settle down to the confusion of dating in My Love Story!! volume 2.
The writer, Kazune Kawahara, has good ideas for short moments that convey how the characters are perceived by others. For instance, when they come across a woman struggling with a baby stroller on a flight of steps, Takeo immediately grabs the stroller and easily heads to the other end of the stairs. From the woman’s perspective, though, an overly large guy has loomed over her (and artist Aruko does a great job with the looming from a worm’s eye perspective and shading to increase Takeo’s monster look) and seized her child. Thankfully, the attractive Sunakawa is there to put her at ease and explain Takeo’s intentions.
It’s this conflict between appearance — Takeo looks like a gangster tough guy from an old movie in his suit — and intention that make up the light-hearted comedy that is so appealing in this series. After one of his (frequent) good deeds, sometimes people end up thanking Sunakawa, confusing beauty for good action. People can be shallow, in other words, and it’s that reminder that keeps the series from being sticky-sweet.
Takeo also tends to act without explanation or delay. Thankfully, he’s always doing the right thing, even if he does get misunderstood. That’s seen in one of the chapters here, as Yamato’s friends and Takeo’s friends have a social mixer. Yamato has been talking about how great her boyfriend is, but the other girls are shocked that Takeo is so much outside the norm. Sunakawa, jaded by how superficially others treat him, tells the truth: “Just because she’s nice doesn’t mean her friends are too. They might be friends because she’s so nice.” When a disaster threatens, though (with some dynamic action cartooning), Takeo saves the day, showing Yamato’s friends just how cool he can be. It’s an exaggerated series of events, but with emotional authenticity behind them.
In other chapters, Takeo and Yamato have to deal with temporary separation as Takeo helps out the judo team for a tournament and Takeo struggles to give Yamato a perfect birthday. That’s complicated by his desire to be there for his friend Sunakawa during a difficult time. Sunakawa has a valuable role in the couple’s relationship — he states explicitly what each is thinking to the other, nicely shortcutting the stereotypical kinds of misunderstandings that fuel a lot of other shojo manga.
Takeo and Yamato’s relationship can be laughable in its good-hearted simplicity, but the authors bring through an honesty of feeling that makes me want to cherish their naiveté instead of snarking or snickering at it. Everything is new to them because they’re in love. This kind of pure emotion is why I read romance comics, because in the real world, it would quickly be shot down and trampled. Here, though, I can enjoy how it felt to be that young. They’re adorable!
I don’t recall if these were a feature of the first volume, but between story chapters are recipes for the treats Yamato makes. They seem delicious, even if they’d need some tweaking to be workable for US ingredients.