15 Minutes Before We Really Date Volume 1 Review

2023 is approaching its end, so what better time to get cosy with some cute romance manga to end the year? Today I’m here to take a look at the first volume of one such series from Yen Press: 15 Minutes Before We Really Date. Does it prove entertaining? Let’s find out! 

The story follows Yuuki and Natsuha, who have half a year left before they graduate from high school. The two have lived next door to one another with their families since they were small children, so understandably they share a close bond. Because of this, there have always been persistent rumours throughout middle and high school that the two are dating, but in truth, they’ve remained nothing but friends. 

But as the two are applying to different colleges and will be going their separate ways, Natsuha one day proposes that the two give dating a try. After all, they’re both single and already close, so surely it’s worth a go, right? Yuuki appears unfazed by the idea and willingly goes along with it, given they spend all day together as it is. But going from childhood friends and neighbours to lovers is more difficult than either of them could have anticipated… 

It doesn’t take long for us to learn that Natsuha has harboured feelings for Yuuki for a while, long enough to have been upset by him complaining all summer about his lack of a girlfriend when she would have been delighted to date him, had he asked. So unlike Yuuki who never thought about dating her seriously, it’s interesting to watch their relationship play out, knowing there’s a solid foundation for it. And I’m looking forward to seeing how and when Yuuki will come to realise this for himself. 

15 Minutes Before We Really Date Volume 1 contains fourteen short chapters and three bonus chapters, which range in length from five to ten pages on average. They give us snippets of the cast’s lives without overstaying their welcome. It’s quite similar to the premise and execution of It Takes Two Tomorrow, Too – but instead of being set in a new scene every chapter there’s more of a through-line here. 

Multiple chapters are dedicated to the pair’s first day of officially going out, as well as their first date, showing the hardships of wanting to be more intimate but not knowing how to change up their normal behaviour to better fit their new dating status. These are nicely interjected by the bonus chapters, which are told from the perspective of other characters or take place before the beginning of the story. We even get to meet Yuuki’s little sister, who is delighted at the prospect of the two finally dating (she thinks it’s about time!) and stalks them on their first date. It seems she has a love story of her own waiting in the wings, too. 

©Perico, Yen Press

This is mangaka Perico’s debut work in English (their first long-running series in Japan as well, but not their first work). This series started life as a Twitter comic, which explains the short chapters. I also think it contributes to the style of the artwork, which is quite sketchy: almost as it was drawn in pencil and then not inked after the fact as you’d expect. This is mostly an issue with the characters, who can seem almost blurry at points, especially in contrast to the colour pages (perhaps not helped by being published in one of Yen’s bigger formats). 

©Perico, Yen Press

The art is something that takes a few chapters to get used to, especially as the structure is a bit all over the place. Rather than traditionally panelled manga, Perico mixes things up regularly, changing from four panels per page to even fewer, which makes for a messy experience. But even despite all that, I didn’t dislike the artwork nor did I find it brought the manga down. Yes, it might not have been what I expected, but there’s something to be said about how this very free-form manga expresses the inexperience of the two main characters in their new relationship. Somehow, Perico gets away with it, I feel. 

As mentioned earlier 15 Minutes Before We Really Date Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Caleb Cook with lettering by Rachel J. Pierce. There are no translation notes, but at the same time, there’s little in the way of references here either. The dialogue reads well and there’s no problem with the release overall. 

The series is complete in Japan with six volumes published between 2019-2023. In English, Yen Press has Volume 2 scheduled for a release in April and then there’s no sign of #3 currently, so we may be in for a steady but slow schedule going forward.

Overall, 15 Minutes Before We Really Date Volume 1 has a few issues but at the same time, it’s a very sweet romance. There’s little in the way of drama and being a short series, it seems unlikely to outstay its welcome, so if you find yourself in the mood for something in this genre then I certainly consider it worthwhile. 

Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK

7 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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