Love*Com, Vol. 1
written by Aya Nakahara
The first volume of Aya Nakahara’s shojo manga Love*Com takes us into the world of two teenagers who are vertically challenged…in different ways. Risa Koizumi is a girl who is much taller than most of her boy counterparts, and her classmate, Atsushi Otani, is a boy smaller than most girls. The rather predictable challenges that this forces the pair to face are treated in a refreshing and lighthearted way, making this a truly enjoyable read.
One thing that I appreciated about Love*Com was that, simply because Koizumi and Otani felt similar pain about their respective heights, they were not immediately sympathetic to one another. In fact, it initially seems the opposite: They are outright harsh to each other, an attitude that other students take for comedy. They both want to simply be normal teenagers, and while they wish that they were more average, they do not think twice about mocking each other’s heights. This reflection that hardship does not always (or even usually) breed empathy is so realistic that it truly makes this series.
The mere fact that everyone always thinks they are joking together when they are fighting is another glimpse into one of their challenges. Because they look different than they are supposed to, it is assumed that they are never serious, never sincere. In a way, their personalities promote this, but it obviously bothers them as well. It will be interesting to see if this leads them to modify how they react to things, or if they decide to simply let their personalities be as they are, without worrying what others think.
This series starts out with Koizumi and Otani wanting stereotypical dates—Koizumi wants a quiet, attractive boy, and Otani wants a small, delicate girl. It gradually becomes clear that these love interests are not, well, interested in them at all. Moreover, it becomes clear that Otani and Koizumi have more in common than height: They share a lot interests, personality traits, and flaws. This will obviously lead to the road of friendship, and if the series follows similar shojo fashion, to love.
Aya Nakahara’s art is open and guileless, its lightness reflecting the mood of the series. This is a manga that is easy to pick up and hard to put down. Not only will it appeal to general fans of shojo manga, but it will nearly scream out to those teens who look or act slightly different than they are expected to.
Love*Com Volume 1 is highly recommended to all teen fans of shojo manga.