“Love Com” is the story of Risa Koizumi, 15, 1.7m tall and nicknamed Jumbo Girl by the shortest guy in class, Atsushi Otani (cruel irony here, methinks). Their relationship is one fraught with comedic quibbles and chemistry that they both try to deny but cannot ignore.
When Risa sets her sights on Suzuki Ryouji, the only guy taller than her in the class, she encounters an obstacle in Atsushi, who, incidentally, likes her friend Chiharu Tanaka, who, in turn, is the object of Suzuki’s affections!
Confused? Don’t be! This wild and wacky love triangle comedy involving this mismatched duo...is the only visible storyline in this entire manga.
Unfortunately, that is all to the story. It is like a ride on a low-slung convertible to Nowhere Land: immensely fun, wildly amusing and absolutely pointless. The story simply is. No angst. No emotional rollercoaster. No high-tension action. It is a manga you read when you have time on your hands and no MP3 player.
But lest you get me wrong, dear readers, I must say this is a manga that grows on you. Read it once, you probably won’t like it. Read it again and you’ll realise it actually tackles the whole idea of gender stereotyping: how boys must be taller than girls, not-so-tall boys must only date petite girls and vice versa. Read it for the third time and you’ll see the way the story takes on the whole concept of self-esteem and the usual teenage insecurities.
Now, the artwork isn’t fantastic. I am slightly disappointed. But on a more positive note, it is very neat with nicely-placed speech bubbles and simple backgrounds. It is easy to read, for sure. Interesting fact: Lovely Complex has actually been adapted into a live-action drama and anime.
Final verdict on Love Com? It is an easy stroll through a park after the rain, not a treacherous and exciting climb up a steep mountain. But then again, nothing wrong with a stroll now, is there?
LOVELY COMPLEX Vol.1
Story and art: Aya Nakahara
Publisher: VIZ Media; 180 pages
For ages 13+