Yamanouchi Kouya is a famous author's daughter, who is a shy young girl just starting middle school. She is named class representative along with Kannatsuki Yuuya, a boy she met on her way to school who frightens her a little bit. They are trying to work together, but he always seems mad at her and she is painfully shy. The thing is, Yuuya knows something that Kouya doesn't know yet—that her famous father is going to marry his mother!
There is always a time in everyone’s life when we get deceived by appearances and we try something out only to see it was absurdity packaged in a nice wrap. This is the case with Kouya no Koi, a seemingly coming of age story at the tender age of 12; learning about your body, learning the ways of the world, learning about the other sex and of course learning about love. Love is practically the answer to everything in this case, however convoluted it gets.
Where to begin with this? My experience with the manga can be summed up in a single scene: 12yo main girl
keeps falling more often these days and her house’s helper takes her out bra shopping. Why did she do that? Because apparently her normally growing breasts made her fall forward and a bra would fix that. That is honestly the logic that permeates the work. For bonus points, in another scene, the 12yo main girl explains she hates being touched and an adult woman tells her that as a woman she will be touched by her romantic partner and she will give birth, so she needs to face her fears because that is what a woman is. I mean, is that not how you are supposed to advise a child who has such a fear? In yet another scene, a 13yo girl who is a stranger shows off her bra randomly to the 12yo main girl and other girls in the school grounds (and not the lockers room) just to tell her she is going to buy underwear that matches the taste of the boy she likes. What was the main girl’s reaction? “Her bra is so mature.”
These have only been examples of how everyday things get a completely irrational spin to serve the purpose of entering teenhood. Everything feels forced after the first few chapters, the story revolves only after love in the most absurd of ways, everything keeps happening so the main girl can keep asking herself the same questions over and over again, the romance is idiotic at best with almost everyone falling for her at some point, most adults are laughable but are still trying to sound all pretentious because they are talking with a 12yo girl who supposedly does not know much and in general, it reaches the point that you read just to see how worse it gets. I will admit it had some cute/nice scenes, but they get lost under the sheer quantity of horrible treatment.
The characters are not thought out well at all. The main girl starts as an ordinary girl to a bit smarter girl to a complete idiot in a matter of seconds. I kept trying to convince myself that she is really young and thus, she is learning a lot of things, but that would only get me this far, because a lot of things did not make any logical sense, other than “What is love?” in every other corner. In general, everyone’s character that we see is all about love and nothing else so at most we see some pretentious problems and illogical thinking.
All in all, I laughed a lot while reading this. Thankfully, it was short enough so I do not regret wasting my time this much, but if I knew, I would never even glance at it. It was the art that pulled me in and that is where I can give a high score, but everything else was ridiculously bad so I cannot let art affect the final score much. This is more or less a warning for everyone who is thinking of reading it.
With romance being always in demand in the recommendations section this oughtta have more reviews. As for me, I think it’s one of the better examples of shoujo romance, and I say that as not a big fan of the genre.
The whole story has a novel (book) feel to it, both in terms of overcomplicated circumstances of the heroes and in quality of writing. Also in sense of meta-reflection – the father of the main heroine is a romance writer and tries to live romance. But you’ll know more of his "writing", when you read this yourself. As for the writing in the manga
- it is good: well-paced, clever, full of references and with occasional bouts of fresh air, which is something for a genre milked for so long.
The story is about coming of age. I avoid the term buildungsroman, cause the focus is on the maturing of a woman – the changes in body, first interest in sex, understanding of female role in relationships. We meet the protagonist, when she is 12, completely innocent, shy, but with conflicted impression on love because of her family. She is a good company for a reader – sweet, but not too saccharine, intelligent, curious in her own way and introspective. Her love interest is also a pretty interesting boy – wildish and intelligent, although I feel that it would've been better to know more of him.
The art is very pretty and it supports the story well. There’re moments of sheer brilliance in the “wilderness” frames (one of them you see on the cover). I don’t say much here, but it’s really good, albeit very shoujo – airy backgrounds, pretty and delicate features, huge eyes.
The biggest warning I may give to people is the message for the girls this work carries. I am not sure it won’t rile up the more emancipated western readers (I was bothered in some moments, to be honest). The other slight problem is the ending – the composition of the last volume is, maybe, not ideal.
But these are very high-level problems, as you see. They are standing problems, of course, since the better the work, the higher the standard. Yet this is undoubtedly head above most of the romance crap we’re being thrown anyway. Read it and analyze for yourself – at least there are things to analyze, I tell’ya.