This is a review of volumes 1 to 3
I’ll be the first one to admit it – I am not My Love Story!!’s target audience. For one thing, I am not a teenage girl. For another, I tend to hate romance stories, myself being a jaded man happily resigned to living the rest of my life alone. My Love Story!!, however, managed to thaw my frozen heart. I started it with a sarcastic smirk – “Hah, what kind of fool could get enjoyment from watching this cast of flawless, cookie-cutter characters have their predictably innocent and awkward interactions?” By halfway through the first volume I was beaming along with the characters, feeling as though I had myself finally found true love.
My Love Story!! is about Takeo Goda, a big burly dude who is incredibly kind and considerate, but whose scary appearance foils his attempts to get close with any members of the opposite sex. To make matters worse he is best friends with Makoto Sunakawa, the prototypical shoujo manga pretty boy, and is forced to watch him swat away cute girls on a daily basis. One day Takeo sees a schoolgirl on the train getting victimised by a molester, and steps in to save her. He quickly develops feelings for the girl, Rinko Yamato, but is certain that she’s fallen in love with Makoto. After all, he’s just a big, ugly, muscle-bound guy, and the people he helps always gravitate towards Makoto as their saviour rather than Takeo, despite his involvement in the situation being limited. Takeo resolves to conceal his feelings and support Rinko in pursuing Makoto, knowing that such a nice girl would be a good fit for his best friend. However, shock-horror, Rinko is actually in love with Takeo! And so begins a series of awkward encounters in which the three characters misunderstand each other’s actions, in typical manga/anime style.
Now, what makes My Love Story!! superior to other titles in the genre is that it doesn’t drag out this situation. In fact, the whole misunderstanding is cleared up within the very first volume! From that point on the story involves Takeo and Rinko working out their relationship, while Makoto benignly looks on. There are comical situations, such as when the young couple get lost in the mountains together and Takeo goes to great lengths to protect Rinko from any and all danger (even going so far as to fight off every individual mosquito that approaches her), but also the somewhat more serious. Nothing too serious, as My Love Story!! really is all about the cutesy feel-good vibes, but it does depict when Rinko first introduces her friends to Takeo, and how they then snigger about his appearance behind her back. Fortunately the situation is resolved when Takeo saves Rinko’s friends from a burning building (this manga isn’t afraid to go into Die Hard territory when the situation calls for it), and they see what a great guy he really is.
The art of My Love Story!! plays a big part in it being so enjoyable. While the story and situations aren’t especially unique, the way the characters are drawn when experiencing them is great at highlighting the humour and the emotion. Takeo and Rinko’s faces, when they find something that the other has done especially endearing, never fail to bring a gigantic smile to one’s face. And the comedic reactions of Takeo provide some of the best facial expressions I’ve ever seen in any manga – they are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.
One wonders for how much longer My Love Story!! will be able to maintain its current level of enjoyableness. Serialised manga is a medium infamous for its insistence on carrying on way past its prime, introducing unnecessary characters and convoluted misunderstandings in futile attempts to prolong its lifespan. It is very easy to see how My Love Story!! may fall into this trap, given that the romance of the main characters was resolved in its first volume. However, the fact that it is now three volumes in and still hasn’t grown stale may be cause for optimism – only time will tell.
My Love Story!! has experienced a bit of an explosion in popularity as of late – its successful anime series has just recently finished airing, and a live action film adaptation is on the way. Reading the original manga, it’s easy to see why. My Love Story!! is charming and cute, and while not particularly ground-breaking, it does an admirable job of warming even the coldest of hearts.