My Love Story!!
俺物語!! (Ore Monogatari!!)
KAWAHARA Kazune (Story), Aruko (Art)
Shoujo – Romance, comedy, slice-of-life
3 Volumes (8 Volumes Japanese) (ongoing)
Takeo is a big guy who looks scary, but he has a heart of gold and a strong sense of justice. Unfortunately, every girl he likes prefers his best friend, Sunakawa! Takeo’s lastest crush is a girl he saved named Yamato, but Takeo will support his latest love interest no matter who she likes. But perhaps this time…?
In short, this is shoujo done right. Bump up what would usually be a side couple (at best) into the spotlight and you immediately have a stand out. Combine that with extremely likable main characters and fun art makes this series a refreshing change from the typical shoujo manga.
My Love Story!! first inverts many shoujo tropes in the first chapter. This is amazing since other series can go into double digits and not do anything uniquely. Even physically large characters like Takeo don’t usually get promoted out of being reoccurring characters, let alone the lead. I’m not saying the school-idol-as-love-interest manga have to disappear, but there’s a whole lot of different people in the world. Give some of the “ugly guys” (the manga’s tagline in the magazine, not my words) a chance, too! (Just need more normal guys, too.)
The main couple doesn’t define their lives solely by their relationship. They are a bakappuru, but they aren’t abnormally absorbed in each other. A truly healthy relationship is not throwing everything away for love. Takeo still helps others even if it means time with his girlfriend will be cut short. Yamato is not a jealous crybaby; rather she respects his life outside of her. As this is the first relationship for both Takeo and Yamato, the story is about the two navigating through their nervousness and misunderstandings. Takeo’s superhuman strength plays a heavy part in the plot along with his strict pure heart. Events are often unrealistic (think sitcom), but even some of the usual shoujo plotlines feel like new. Part of this is because Takeo and Yamato are already together, and the other part is the innocence of the two leads.
Personality-wise, Takeo is actually more princely than many of the “prince” type characters in manga. He lends a hand whenever asked, rescues people without a second thought, and even helps his mother. He only gets mad at molesters and the ilk rather than whoever crosses his path when he’s in a bad mood. Yamato, on the other hand, is closer to the yamato nadeshiko archetype. She is so cute with Takeo that she doesn’t feel like a forced girly-girl character. They complement each other nicely.
I also like Sunakawa. To balance out Takeo’s overzealous nature, many authors would make him dispassionate about everything, an annoying wanna-be playboy, or a secret manipulator / shadow king. He may not be as lively as Takeo or have Takeo’s strength, but he, too, is a nice guy. Even when Sunakawa should throw Takeo out of his room (really, Takeo deserves to be kicked out at times), he doesn’t. Wow. They are bros in the truest sense. Sunakawa and Yamato also have a nice friendship outside of being defined solely as “my best friend’s girl / my boyfriend’s best friend”, and neither view the other as being their rival for Takeo’s time. The author (and Sunakawa expressly says no) does not quickly force another girl in the story just to have everyone paired up. Who knows if Sunakawa will get a girlfriend in the future, but at least it’s not two pairs of love-at-first-sight.
As Takeo is not supposed to be a typical shoujo prince, this is a series where not everyone is beautiful. Panels that feature Takeo are intense with lots of closeups and screentones, while Yamato and Sunakawa panels lean toward flowers and sparkles. The art is most interesting when it stars the former rather than the two latters. His raburabu scenes are quite comical. Even Takeo’s family is artistically hilarious. The notes in the story lampshade the fact that Takeo gets bigger during the series, but at least you could always chalk it up to him eating Yamato’s treats. Overall, the art is cheery with a lot of contrasting blacks and whites to emphasize the differences between Takeo and the two people closest to him. But pay attention to Takeo’s shirts!
No honorifics are used except for “senpai”. Some of the characters’ names they are referred to by others are slightly changed. Takeo’s mom, for instance, calls him “Take” in Japanese but by his full name here. This seems to be fairly standard practice for the person who did this adaptation. At least the English text doesn’t feature everyone calling each other by their personal names. (Ew.) This seems to be a good translation, focused on keeping the meaning than the literal text translation. The English adaptation also keeps Yamato’s emoji-filled text messages.
Buy it. This isn’t a series just for shoujo lovers, either. Anyone who would like to read about the funny romantic adventures of a hot-blooded, super strong guy and the kind girl of his dreams will love it. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to future volumes.
My Love Story!! also had crossovers with Nisekoi and Ao Haru Ride, both currently unreleased in English, but perhaps they will be included in an upcoming volume?
Kawahara is known for her series High School Debut, also from Viz. I own the single volumes but haven’t read it yet. (D’oh!) I might as well wait until I buy the last omnibus for the previously unreleased volumes 14 and 15. (Expect a review one day.) I also like her series Sensei! but doubt it will ever be licensed. Aruko’s most well known series is Yasuko to Kenji (aka Yasuko and Kenji), but it has not been released in English outside of the now closed site JManga.
The anime will premiere in April.