Love at Fourteen Volumes 1-2
Love at Fourteen is a poetic, quiet series about first love by Fuka Mizutani. Kanata (she) and Kazuki (he) are mature for their 14 years, taller than the others but set apart by the other kids looking up to them. They feel constrained by others’ expectations, and they don’t feel as old as others treat them. So they bond together, in similar circumstances, and begin falling in love.
It’s the moments that make this manga so involving. Whether or not their assigned seats are next to either other is the definition of a minor conflict, but it means so much to them, so they sneak away for some time just sitting next to each other.
They attend a summer festival, where they take care of each other. A new hairstyle is difficult to look at. Drawing class requires a model. The grumpy Nagai tries to blackmail them after spying on them. Each chapter is a short story about a moment or a meaning. These are everyday situations, made significant by the emotions permeating them. These characters are so cute in their simplicity that they’re a pleasure to watch.
Volume 2 opens with an often wordless chapter that perfectly captures the embarrassment of a casual touch when you’re becoming more aware of changes in both your own body and another. Then there’s scheming to get to share an umbrella together on a rainy afternoon and the complication of another student with a crush.
That student isn’t the only one who gets jealous, as Nagai returns in a chapter involving the attractive music teacher. (I’m not sure what the author is going for between those two, but I have my suspicions.) Then there’s folk dancing, and the required touching of hands that the kids have to negotiate.
Love at Fourteen is a relaxing read, spurring memories of puppy love and emotional moments. (The publisher provided review copies.)