A Condition Called Love Volume 1 Review
Although Kodansha releases plenty of shojo titles digitally, it’s still rare to see these releases transition to the physical market unless there’s an anime involved. So whenever a series does make the jump, especially a long ongoing one, shojo fans everywhere rejoice. Today I’m here to take a look at A Condition Called Love, which is one such manga to have found its way to having a paperback release from Kodansha. Does it delight? Let’s find out!
The story follows Hotaru Hinase, a 16-year-old first-year in high school who has never experienced love and doesn’t think she ever will. Hotaru is quite happy enjoying her quiet days with family and friends so, despite her friends getting into relationships, she doesn’t particularly mind what happens as long as she’s still surrounded by her loved ones.
However, fate has other ideas. After witnessing fellow student Hananoi being publicly dumped by his girlfriend, she finds him sitting outside in heavy snowfall. As Hotaru is nice to everyone she meets, she offers to share her umbrella with him and is then shocked to find him waiting in her classroom to ask her out the next day!
As you might expect, Hotaru politely turns him down, pointing out that the two barely know one another. However, Hananoi has decided Hotaru is his girl of destiny thanks to the fact she treated him like an average person and didn’t approach him due to his good looks. Hotaru turning him down once isn’t enough to put Hananoi off and he continues to pursue her, asking her out to lunch and helping her out around school.
Spending so much time with Hananoi leads our heroine to wonder if she might be starting to fall for him and she finally agrees to date him on a trial basis, provided he’s okay with the fact she may not have romantic feelings for him or come to see him in that way. Hananoi is overjoyed to hear her say yes and does everything he can to make her see him in a romantic light – including transforming his look!
A Condition Called Love isn’t doing anything new in the shojo genre, but our main characters are a likeable and relatable pair. Not understanding love or thinking you’ll never experience it is something I’m sure many of us will understand, so it’s easy to understand where Hotaru is coming from with her concerns.
Everything is simply alien to her, especially when her friends paint a picture that a romantic relationship becomes the centre of your life and the most important element (something I disagree with, but these are teenage characters so it’s not inconceivable that they’d say such things.) What Hotaru isn’t being told is that love is different for everyone and she doesn’t have to fit into what her friends are experiencing, but being with Hananoi means she’s slowly starting to figure it out for herself.
Meanwhile Hananoi struggles with love in a completely different way. He claims to understand it, but due to only ever dating girls who care for his good looks and wanting to do anything possible to keep them happy, he always ends up being dumped and told he’ll never understand true love. And we readers see plenty of these problems with how he treats Hotaru. Rather than be himself, Hananoi will reinvent himself to fit his partner. Even with Hotaru, he cuts his hair and removes all his piercings after she implies she doesn’t like them (she was talking about her hair, not his) hoping to be the perfect boyfriend material. But what he doesn’t realise is that by going to such lengths, he’s never letting his partners see the real Hananoi and his likes and dislikes.
Just as Hotaru is learning what love means to her, Hananoi too has a lot to learn about being in a relationship and I appreciate that the two of them are approaching their newfound relationship as equals. They may not be confused about love for the same reason, but they both have problems to work through if they want to make this succeed.
One problem I did have with this volume is that because Hananoi is so eager to please, his actions sometimes come over as overbearing or stalker-like. Particularly early on when he’s so eager to get Hotaru to agree to a relationship with him and can be found popping up around every corner. This is clearly a part of his personality and the issues he needs to work through when it comes to romance, but I could see it putting a few readers off. However, by the end of Volume 1, his actions are already starting to improve and given the series is ongoing with twelve volumes, it’s got a sizable fanbase behind it so I wouldn’t be too quick to write it off.
The series runs in the Dessert magazine in Japan where a lot of Kodansha’s shojo hits come from. Mangaka Mei Morino (Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty) has a polished art style that’s quite simple but captures the emotions of the characters well. There are some charming half-page or even full-page panels that show off pivotal moments in the story too, which I am a fan of. You can certainly see why fans of the genre gravitated toward it since the story and art are very traditionally shojo, but there’s a certain charm to it that keeps you coming back for more, even if you’re very familiar with the genre.
As previously mentioned, A Condition Called Love Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and has been translated by Erin Procter with lettering by Jacqueline Wee. The translation reads well with no issues to note, but it may differ from the digital release since the credits list that it has been given a second editing pass for the print release.
Kodansha has already released all twelve volumes currently available in e-book format due to starting in early 2020. In print, the series is on a bi-monthly schedule with #2 already available and #3 following in May so it shouldn’t take too long to catch up with the e-books. This title is still ongoing in Japan with no sign of it concluding yet, so if you like it then there’ll certainly be a lot more of the story to enjoy in the coming months.
Overall, A Condition Called Love Volume 1 may not stand out from the crowd when it comes to its premise, but the characters’ stories are easy to get invested in. Provided you can sympathise with Hananoi rather than hate him, you’ll certainly be eager to see how this budding relationship is going to turn out. If nothing else, given how long-running it is you’ll be able to follow their story for quite a long time which is not often said for shojo titles that make it into print!
A free preview of the series can be found on Kodansha’s website here.