Fall in Love Like a Comic
まんがみたいな恋したいっ! (Manga Mitai na Koishitai!)
続まんがみたいな恋たいっ! (Zoku Manga Mitai na Koishitai!)
Shoujo – Comedy, romance
2 Volumes (complete)
Rena is still in high school, but she is also the creator of a well-liked romance manga. However, Rena herself has never had a boyfriend. One day, the most popular boy in school, Tomoya, finds her manuscripts. Rena then suddenly asks him to be her boyfriend in order to gain experience and improve her manga.
Fall in Love Like a Comic is a nice light read with its cuteness, but it’s nothing spectacular.
Fall in Love Like a Comic was originally a single volume. Due to fan support, Yagami drew some more stories involving Rena and Tomoya. These chapters were published in Zoku Manga Mitai na Koishitai!, released here as volume two. The second volume has three Fall in Love Like a Comic chapters, some short one-page tips and points about making manga, and a one-shot. (The first volume has a one-shot as well.) So this is not a full two volumes’ worth of story progression.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…
I think the first issue with the manga is its rating. I’m sure any manga reader, anime watcher, or even game player has experienced the different levels of acceptability between Japan and the U.S. (and other countries). In many cases, recommended ages for media here are higher than in Japan. Fall in Love Like a Comic is decidedly in this group. The manga was serialized in Ciao, a shoujo magazine targeting elementary and middle school students. Other Ciao series include Wedding Peach, Beauty Pop, and Corrector Yui. If you’ve ever read any of these, you’ll know that these are far from mature series. Fall in Love Like a Comic makes a few references to sex, but outside of a lot of kissing, I just fail to see how this got an OT rating. Black Bird is an OT series. Nana is an OT series. This is an OT series because Rena snuck into a shower and because of all the talk about the first night? Rena mentions her manga has a lot of sexy scenes, but nothing is shown. Quite frankly, if you put this up against other manga for older teens, this would stick out like a sore thumb.
Anyway, onto the story.
The plot is very straightforward: girl is a secret author, most popular guy in school discovers her secret, and now the inexperienced-in-love girl tries to use the guy for inspiration. Of course, as they pretend to date, Rena falls in love with Tomoya for real. Now for the least surprising spoiler ever: they end up officially getting together. There are chapters before and after they become a couple, and most involve the usual shoujo tropes of jealous girls and misunderstandings. The romance is cute, but it’s nothing really new or amazing. Tomoya is actually the bright spot here, but I’ll talk about him later.
I was really disappointed at how the mangaka angle was played. Most secret manga author series (romance or not) play it one of two ways: a) a pure comedy, with lots of lampshading and otaku references, or b) an educational bent with lots of information for those who want to be one. The main plot in Fall in Love Like a Comic really doesn’t go down either path. The second volume has a short series about a goofy wanna-be mangaka and her coach. I actually enjoyed these strips more than the main story. It was the type of comedy-informative blend that I wished the actual Fall in Love Like a Comic had. The main story doesn’t really cover any “how-to” aspects outside of explaining a few terms. So if you were hoping the manga-making aspect would make Fall in Love Like a Comic stand out, you will be disappointed. All it really does is set up the first chapter and have her editor comment in subsequent ones about Rena’s stories becoming more heartfelt.
In addition, Rena actually seems to have a relatively easy work-life compared to other manga-starring authors. I don’t even remember her having any assistants, so she must do it all herself. As a student. Really?
Rena looks and acts much younger than her age. Half of her scenes show her turning into a literal pile of jelly, and the other half is Rena getting upset about her love life. That’s… basically it. I do like how she is hardworking and actually has a plan for the future, but Rena is still pretty immature. However, through it all, Tomoya remains quite the guy to Rena. He kisses her constantly and likes to tease her, but he doesn’t pressure her to go further. Of course, as the school idol, he is athletic, smart, a good cook, and he doesn’t turn down girls just to be a jerk. He is pretty much the ideal manga boyfriend, if somewhat cheesy. It’s no surprise the author revealed he was the most popular character. I really didn’t have many expectations for the manga — including the hero — so he was a bright spot in the series. Tomoya was probably the main reason I enjoyed this series more than I thought I would.
Otherwise, the two have a couple of friends, but they really don’t do much outside of hang around the main couple at school and to be fillers on trips and dates. I did enjoy Rena’s editor, especially when he misunderstood some of Rena’s statements. Tomoya’s sister was woefully underused, but this is a short series after all. An author does not want too much attention away from the main couple.
The art is very cheerful. Visually, Fall in Love Like a Comic looks like a series for younger readers. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Again, though, it just doesn’t look like a series older readers would flock to when there are so many other options. This series was also Yagami’s first serialization, and the characters do look off-model in some panels. Fortunately, she improves in the second volume. Rena’s simplistic jelly form probably let Yagami spend more time on Tomoya and the other characters. (Well, that and the second volume was released quite a bit after volume one.) Backgrounds are pretty limited, but she does nice work with the screentones. All in all, it’s pretty typical shoujo fare, but the first volume is a bit weak.
No honorifics except “sensei” are used. Despite “comic” being used in the title instead of “manga”, Rena is always addressed as a mangaka. Technical terms like “name” and “purotto” are kept. Otherwise, I really don’t have much to say. It’s pretty standard Shojo Beat, and there really isn’t much here that’s hard to translate or anything.
Even though Fall in Love Like a Comic is a nice light read, unless you really, really, really need a manga-within-a-manga romance, you’re probably better off putting your money toward something else. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun has the comedy, Bakuman is more realistic, and series like Meteor Prince, Beast Master, and Mistress Fortune are good for short romances. Fall in Love Like a Comic is not a bad series to borrow it if you have a free afternoon, but it’s not worth tracking down if your library or best manga friend doesn’t already possess it.