L♥DK Volume 1
Sometimes there’s a place for a completely unchallenging formula story. They can be relaxing or comforting, as events play out as expected. That’s the best way I can describe this shojo manga. L♥DK gives us a hard-working girl who gets involved with the good-looking “school prince” due to their living situation.
Aoi lives on her own, so instead of school activities, she spends her time out of class hunting for grocery bargains and cooking. Her new neighbor turns out to be Shusei, the prince who’s just turned down Aoi’s best friend.
One night, while preparing a meal for him, Aoi sets off the fire alarm, which drenches the apartment. While he waits for it to be repaired, Shusei moves in with Aoi. Thus comes the title, which stands for Living/Dining/Kitchen, or a standard apartment setup.
“Oh, no, we have to share a bedroom” isn’t the only story cliche here; there are a large number included. Shusei pretends Aoi is his girlfriend to get rid of annoying girls bothering him, which makes her feel weird. He pushes her buttons physically but demonstrates thoughtfulness deep inside. They walk in on each other in the bathroom. There’s even a chapter where they’re handcuffed together and have to run errands! (A lot about this series gave me Three’s Company flashbacks, never more than that section.)
He has to hide from the best friend visiting so no one knows Aoi is “living with” a guy. She has to hide her feelings out of misplaced loyalty to the friend who “claimed” him first. They’re forced to be naked near each other through convoluted plot circumstances.
With more of a sense of humor, this could have been a lot of fun, but it’s presented in pedestrian, flat fashion. The voices are so generic that it can be hard to tell which character is speaking. (The word balloons don’t often use tails to point to a character.)
L♥DK is also not a good book for you if you’re bothered by strict adherence to gender roles. Shusei’s also living on his own, but instead of teaching him to cook (as she had to learn), Aoi just cooks for him. He also tends to force her into situations she’s uncomfortable with just for the sake of the story, which can appear to be just this side of assault.
There’s a preview chapter at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)