The World’s Greatest First Love Volume 3
In the first chapter, new manga editor Ritsu has been given the additional responsibilities of coordinating the magazine’s schedule, which means chasing everyone to meet deadlines that they don’t follow. This repeats the pattern from the first book of Ritsu getting increasingly agitated, which allows his boss Takano to tell him how he should be doing things while pushing him for more physical contact.
Manga fans might enjoy the bits of sarcastic observations, as when a manga editor’s job is described as “conning our creators into dropping their guard just long enough to pry the chapter out of their clenched fists… while browbeating the printer into waiting until the last possible second before shoving the completed copy down their throats!” It’s also touching when Ritsu is happy to have a print copy of the first manga volume he edited.
He heads out to the local bookstore (more on that later) to see the book on sale for the first time. The rest of the chapter is about Ritsu being jealous that Takano might have a boyfriend, although Ritsu says he doesn’t want to be involved with him. Then there’s the requisite sex scene. This time, Ritsu’s so drunk he doesn’t remember what happened. This series is good at illustrating different kinds of date rape.
But past that, things got better. Two-thirds of the book moves to the story to Shota, another editor in the manga department. He introduces himself to the reader in internal monologue: “I’m gay, and I’m only into guys for their looks. I’m short and old and pervy. I know I’m never going to find ‘true love’ or any of that crap.” This is the point at which the reader knows Shota is so wrong.
There’s a gorgeous bookstore worker, Yukina, who flirts with all the young girls he’s selling to. Shota is obsessed with him, staring from afar. But then the two meet, and Yukina turns out to be more than just a pretty face.
I liked Shota a lot more than Ritsu or Takano, in part because his story seems more realistic to me. Beyond sympathizing with admiring someone you’ll likely never meet, his work struggle is that of someone trying hard but who hasn’t yet had a big hit or a breakthrough success. Compared to his boss, he’s a normal guy, not a rockstar, not a special achiever, and he’s coming to terms with that.
I also was a lot more comfortable reading about Yukina and Shota, since they have the manga industry in common, and there isn’t the weird power imbalance. Yukina loves the work Shota puts out, and that was adorable. (The publisher provided a review copy.)