An Incurable Case of Love, Vol 3

An Incurable Case of Love Volume 3 by Maki Enjoji

I’ve found it difficult to concentrate on reading much in the past few weeks. That being said, I thought that the workplace romance of An Incurable Case of Love was the best series to try to get back into my somewhat irregular rhythms of manga reading. This volume immediately picks up with the scary situation of Nanase being menaced by a stalker. When Dr. Tendo attempts to protect her, she immediately puts her self between Dr. Tendo and danger. She ends up getting knocked to the ground in a pool of blood and rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. What follows is Nana’s elaborate love confession that manages to capture the combination of sweetness and absurdity that makes this manga such an enjoyable read. She announces that she’s happy because she got to kiss Tendo one time and she has no regrets except “I wanted to be your girlfriend…I wanted to kiss and cuddle you…” Alarmed, Tendo grips her hand and says that if she pulls through “I’ll be your boyfriend or whatever you want.” Nana promptly falls asleep saying “Don’t forget about me…”

An Incurable Case of Love

She wakes up to Tendo’s glare, because she fell asleep as opposed to fainting, and while she was injured her head wound wasn’t life threatening. They quickly get back into the regular rhythms of work, except they are officially dating. Dating means not actually going out on any dates due to their hectic schedules. They fall back into the usual rythms of this series, briefly dealing with distractions in the form of a super cute but not very compassionate new trainee nurse who has her own crush on Dr. Tendo, traveling to an educational seminar, and cooking lessons from the too handsome Kisugi. Tendo gradually is starting to show some genuine emotion and concern despite his extremely dispassionate demeanor. Nana’s relentless devotion and affection despite her general lack of encouragement will have readers agree that her workplace nickname of “Valiant One” is fairly earned. I definitely recommend picking up the three volumes of this series if you are looking for a fun josei escape.

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol 1

Love Me, Love Me Not, Volume 1 by Io Sakisaka

Strobe Edge was good, and Ao Haru Ride is a special series, so I was very excited when I saw that another Io Sakisaka series was going to be put out under the Shojo Beat imprint. Sakisaka changes things up a little bit by focusing just as much on female friendship as romance. Yuna is a girl who loves reading shoujo manga. She’s a bit shy and not very confident, but she’s quietly very nice. She meets the more outspoken Akari when she asks Yuna for train fare. Yuna also encounters a mysterious, but somewhat crass boy who resembles her long-dreamed of storybook prince. Akari and Yuna bond when they realize that they are both living in the same apartment building and attending the same high school. Yuna shares her romantic dreams, and Akari counters with her much more pragmatic approach of going out and meeting people instead of quietly waiting for a destined love to show up. Akari is surprised when Kazuomi drops by – he’s Yuna’s childhood friend and Yuna’s shyness disappears when she talks to him because she thinks of him like a brother.

Love Me Love Me Not

The characters are all introduced in a series of slice of live scenes that feel very naturalistic. They run into each other on the sidewalk, in convenience stores, walking to and from school, and visiting outside their part-time jobs. As Yuna gets to know Akari better she discovers that her fabled prince is named Rio, and he’s actually Akari’s brother! Akari is concerned about what would happen if Yuna gives in to her crush, because Rio is a bit of a player and is constantly turning down confessions of love from girls. Akari concludes that Yuna should get together with Kazuomi, but she also finds his forthright ways attractive. There’s a not super surprising twist at the end that sends Love Me, Love Me Not firmly into Marmalade Boy territory. This first volume does a great job setting up four sympathetic characters who are all equally engaging despite having very different personalities. Yuna might spend a great deal of time averting her eyes and blushing, but she is willing to push herself to stand up for Akari when some false rumors start going around. Akari is outspoken and always strategizing about what to do when it comes to her friends, but not always great at sharing her own feelings. While Rio is treated in a certain way due to his looks, it is easy to see from his body language and facial expressions, that he’s also burdened by girls developing crushes on him without even taking the time to talk to him. Kazuomi has an open personality, combined with the ability to occasionally come out with pronouncements about life and relationships that make him seem irresistibly cool.

Sakisaka does a great job setting up a new series in the first volume of Love Me, Love Me Not. I like the idea of a shoujo series that will focus just as much on female friendship as it does on romance, and will be eagerly waiting to see how this tangled web of potential teen romance develops in future volumes.

Daytime Shooting Star, Vol 5

Daytime Shooting Star, Volume 5 by Mika Yamamori

As the student/teacher romance in Daytime Shooting Star progresses I find myself thinking, “Oh, that’s cute” and “Stop being so inappropriate Shishio!” very often and simultaneously. Most of this volume is taken up with the old shoujo staple of a school festival. It is the perfect opportunity to shake things up as teens run cafes, put on plays, and engage in high stakes emotions. Mamura in particular is popular as a mostly silent butler at the cafe. Suzume does her best to serve coffee but she’s flustered when Mr. Shishio shows up and sits in her section, accompanied by her uncle. Mamura is in full protective mode, making a comment to Shishio that “A teacher has no business seducing his students” before being distracted by his own family showing up at school. Mr. Shishio confronts Mamura later on, and when Mamura acts cold to Suzume afterwards, she gets annoyed. While all the drama is happening in the cafe, Nekota has to pull herself together to be Juliet after being rejected by Mamura. Her Romeo is the popular and seemingly superficial Togyu, but he’s actually surprisingly insightful.

Suzume is somewhat oblivious to all the drama surrounding her, but she’s feeling awkward about going to see Nekota’s play solo. Shishio shows up in a mascot costume so he can take her to watch the play which is somewhat endearing but also a little creepy. After putting on the brakes for so long, Shishio admits that he has feelings for Suzume, and she’s absolutely stunned. The rest of the volume deals with the aftermath of the emotional revelations from the school festival, as Nekota tries to move on and Suzume decides to work part time in her uncle’s cafe in order to save up to buy Shishio a birthday present. Showing characters navigating through daily life while dealing with plenty of emotions is one of the things that Daytime Shooting Star is good at, along with the consistently stylish art. We aren’t quite halfway through the series yet, but I’m firmly on team Mamura now. Go Mamura! I’m still enjoying this series, mainly because Suzume and Nekota are so oddly sympathetic, but reading it is also balanced out with the tension that comes with reading a romance manga that is going all in on an inappropriate relationship, making me wonder when all the quasi-romance is going to cause some severe negative consequences for all the characters.

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 22

Yona of the Dawn Volume 22 by Mizuho Kusanagi

Volume 22 of Yona of the Dawn follows the tried and true formula of contrasting a hilarious chapter with a deep dive into introspection. The volume opens as Riri is recovering from her and Yona’s latest adventure. Su-Won goes to visit her and it is clear that some of the people that surround them are interested in pushing them together for various geopolitical reasons. However, Riri’s a bit dispassionate at being told to act dignified in front of the king, and Su-Won continues to find her frank mannerisms amusing. I hope for better for Riri than Su-Won though! In a hilarious scene Riri reveals the depth of her crush as General Geum-Tae enters her room. She immediately starts blushing and acting like a shy maiden. In the aftermath, plenty of people inform Riri that Geum-Tae is happily marries, and she’s very well aware, she’s just happy to enjoy her crush. Seeing Riri freak out about how cool Geum-Tae is in front of Su-Won was hilarious.

Yona of the Dawn

The reader gets a rare look into Hak’s mind as he struggles with the idea of returning Yona’s misplaced belongings to her, including the hairpin that Su-Won gave her right before he murdered her father. Hak reflects on their past friendship, and Su-Won’s betrayal. He thinks about his own emotions and how Su-Won didn’t seem to care about the pain he was inflicting on other people. The bulk of this volume deals with an adventure to a new land, as people from Xing pop up to ask if Yona and her companions are the “monsters from Kokha.” Yona meets another new female friend when she spends time with Tao, the younger princess of Xing, but she also learns about the extent of political destabilization that is following from Su-Won’s wars, as Xing might be split between two factions. Tao asks Yona’s advice about what to do with Su-Won, and Yona remains awkwardly silent, realizing that bringing her own feelings and opinions into someone else’s political calculations might not be in the best interest of Xing. This volume bridges two story arcs very effectively, with a little bit of comic relief, a glimpse of the emotional toll the journey has taken on Hak, and the introduction of a new land that hopefully Yona will be able to help.

Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 8

Ao Haru Ride, Volume 8 by Ao Sakisaka

Ao Haru Ride continues to provide a unique shoujo story by combining teen romance against a backdrop of grief. Kou continues to think he can fix the world by taking on the responsibility of being sole friend/psychotherapist/boyfriend to his old classmate Yui, but Futuba may finally be ready to move on.

Ao Haru Ride 8

As the volume opens Futuba tells Kou that she likes him, in full expectation that she’s going to be rejected. She wants to get everything out in the open so she can attempt to move on. Kou’s words are carefully chosen, he says “I can’t go out with you” and Futuba smiles and says “That feels like closure.” Her smiling face interrupts a sequence of panels where Kou’s expressionless face is shadowed, pointing to the facade he’s wearing to hide his feelings. Futuba walks away and when Kou’s phone rings (presumably a call from Yui), he smashes it. While Futuba has vowed to move on, she can’t resist trying to make Kou feel a bit of regret, and she decides that she’ll act more feminine and further distance herself from the tomboy persona that she used to assume. She wonders “Is everyone else pretending to be the person they want to be?” Toma seizes his chance and tells Futuba that he likes her just as she is. She isn’t quite sure how to respond, but Toma tells her that he’ll wait and see what she thinks after she gets a chance to know him.

Futuba accidentally runs into Kou at school and he’s back to his usual harsh comments telling her that her attempts to be more feminine totally don’t work for her. Futuba’s introspection makes her both relatable and endearing, as she comments to her friends, “Spending time thinking about a boy who didn’t pick me…is a waste of my youth!” Kou and Futuba are generally so much better together than they are apart, and the attempts to put distance between them simply don’t work. This is a solid middle volume in this series, and there’s a nice one-shot included as a bonus. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Kou decides that he’s no longer responsible for fixing the universe.