I felt the need to edit my review for this manga since I’ve read it like 3 times already. I want to start by saying my standards for romance novels are pretty low. I don’t need a mindblowing storyline or complex, original characters. All I need are realistic characters and good chemistry, which is enough to convince me that the relationship subject of the story has a believable foundation. But surprisingly enough I can count with one hand the total number of romance novels that have actually lived up to that standard. And damekoi is one of them.
The plot is pretty simple (might even be
too simple for some more dedicated readers out there). It’s just about this thirty-year old lady struggling to get through her quarter-life crisis and her old boss who helps her along the way.
The simplicity of the story is compensated by the colorful characterization of the two leads, Michiko Shibata and Ayumu Kurosawa. It doesn’t start off with your typical love at first sight kind of plot (which honestly, I never liked anyway unless it’s written well which is never the case). Shibata absolutely hates her demonic old boss who turned out to be just as demonic outside of the office, and Kurosawa (“Shunin” as she addresses him) is primarily irked by Shibata’s virgin naiveté, and her fussing over mundane things like her age, love life, and social status. But despite the clashing of their personalities and priorities in life, they develop a close companionship, Shibata slowly seeing Shunin as someone she can come home to after a long tiring day, and Shunin finding himself enjoying Shibata’s company.
I also like that this isn’t an ‘in your face’ romance novel since it takes the time to develop the characters’ personalities, first giving more life to their interactions and their friendship before it takes what it has already established and finally turns it into romance. In other words, the pace of this manga is very slow. It’s not ideal for people who are impatient. As for me, I never liked rushed romance stories. I’ve always liked it when writers take the time to develop their love stories. Writing good romance means understanding the stages that lead to romance, understanding that not every interaction between two characters is always romance-oriented. Apart from being potential lovers, the characters are also friends who make fun of each other, who criticize each other, who see not just the good in the other but also the bad, who tell each other their problems and help the other through their hard times. And writing a good romance doesn’t mean always having love as the undertone for all these interactions. People who do all that for other people don’t necessarily see the other as a potential lover. If you get what I’m saying.
The point is, this writer writes romance REALLY WELL. You can see that the relationship of Shibata and Shunin progresses naturally. It’s genuine and definitely relatable. Definitely, this manga has set the bar for how I want my future relationship to be like. I definitely want a Shunin in my life to scold me when I’m doing something idiotic, to make fun of me, but at the end of the day be lowkey loving and affectionate. Lol when am I going to find you :(
Pls consider reading this! I still don’t understand why the rating is barely an 8 when this is one of the best romance manga I’ve ever read in my entire history of reading only romance mangas and the occasional non-romance manga. Lol
OMG!!!! why is the rating for this manga so low???? i loved literally EVERYTHING about this manga. i loved that it was slow-paced, and that the mangaka took the time to build up both michiko's character and her relationships with the rest of the people around her. i loved that her relationship with shunin didn't start out as the typical unrequited love thing. i loved that the both of them had to literally grow into each other before you can even consider anything remotely related to romance. their relationship was written so well: the foundation of their friendship, their chemistry, the inevitable feelings that would finally develop between them. i also like that their romance felt kind of like an after-thought. honestly, had they ended up with other people, i would have been totally fine with that. that was how well-written this manga was. all the characters were given their justice, none of them being used as fodder for more interesting storylines. this manga gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling. i will treasure it 4 life. pls read this everyone. 1000/10 would recommend.
I think the best way to summarize this series is "refreshing." This won't blow your mind and it doesn't have crazy drama, but it's so cute and unique that reading this gives you the same feeling you get after watching your favorite romcom.
The main character, Shibata, a 30-year virgin who is also a doormat, is a lot better than she sounds. Even though she can make stupid decisions, she's not stupid per se, and it's almost endearing at times, like a puppy. Plus, it's hard not to relate to her extreme willingness to avoid confrontation. Moreover, even though she's a doormat, she isn't the standard
weak romance protagonist; there are a lot of times she gives into puppy-dog eyes, but on the whole, she's a lively and argumentative protagonist. As well as that, she's always aware when she makes stupid decisions, and never writes off being taken advantage of to "he did it because he loves me," which is definitely refreshing for this genre. So, of course she's flawed, but she's flawed well, in the way that makes you feel "I'm not mad, I'm disappointed" when she messes up instead of "this fucking idiot."
Her love interest is her demon ex-boss, Kurosawa, who is nothing like you expect, especially in a romance manga with a boss-employee element. Even though he's rough around the edges, he's undeniably and uncommonly kind; tsundere in the truest sense of the word, not the shoujo manga borderline abusive "why hasn't she broken up with him yet" kind of tsundere.
My favorite thing about this manga is that you can feel them go from "weird ex-coworker situation" to "genuine friends" to "falling in love," and it's incredibly cute to watch. Being real, I found myself whispering "holy fuck, I can't believe love is real" to myself way too much when I read this. But they start to care about each other so quietly and organically; even though they banter and call each other names in every conversation, it's the kind of banter between best friends, between sibilings, between married couples, between two people who clearly care about each other a lot, and it is so pure. Watching them go to huge lengths and get passionate about helping each other with their problems for all the "four-eyed perv"s and insults written on omelettes was sweet enough to give me cavities.
And it's cute how it is about both of them falling in love. There aren't any arcs that are stupid or overdramatic or get too dragged out, and even though it's about a girl who's been treated badly, the optimistic and almost naive-feeling tone this manga warms my heart. When Kurosawa's girlfriend of eight years shows up and makes a scene, it turns out that she's just an overemotional, spunky girl who's doing her best. When Kurosawa's longtime love is introduced, we find out she's a really kind and friendly girl - exactly why he fell in love with her. Every time you think dumb, over-exaggerated, and overplayed drama is going to rear its ugly head, it's avoided completely and the situation is handled in the most uniquely refreshing way.
So maybe it's not mindblowing and you won't be preaching to all your friends about how this manga changed your life, but it's definitely well done. As someone who's read more romance manga than I can count, this is one of my favorite of the genre and something I'll reread on rainy days. If anything, give it a try.
This is a lovely josei manga. Perfect for the twenty-year old me who can relate to the MC's problems. And, I haven't laughed so hard while reading manga in a loooooong time. Almost every other josei manga is too sexual (for me), while this story is super cute and the lines between the characters are all so witty.
Before I knew it, I finished the manga, which made me sad but there is a sequel!! Though I don't necessarily think it needs one, but I still can't wait to read it. :')
This review is not helpful, but I just wanted to vent my admiration for
this manga. Thank you for reading and I hope you do decide to read this!
I would have waited to read more before reviewing this manga, but since there lacks any, I thought I'd give my thoughts on it so far, as I read 19 chapters. Let's put it straight already, I enjoyed it, therefore I'm surely biaised.
This manga has all the ingredients you'd expect out of a romance josei, yet it was a refreshing read to me. The characters are quite unusual, at least to me, while being steadily believable, finding myself relating to quite a few traits here and there.
The main characters are of this manga's strengths. I'd argue the secondary characters rely a lot on clichés, being
somewhat one-dimensional (big-hearted deliquents, superficial/hard-working girls/guys), it didn't seem that problematic, since in contrast the main characters are quite interesting.
The female lead, Shibata, is a failure in most things you'd expect in life, be it in personal matters or professionally, and seemingly being unable to take the right decision on pretty much anything. It's not for lack of trying, though, as she has quite a strong personality, even somewhat of a bad temper, and is willing to fight back with life, even though hers sucks (worse of all, it sucks because of her own failures). While quite a few times I'd stop reading a manga enraged at how stupid a character seemed to be, I couldn't hold grief against Shibata's mistakes, because they'd genuinly feel believable to me, and I liked the way she would carry on, even when realizing the errors.
I found that same balance in the other main characters. The male lead, Kurosawa, is quite often depicted by Shibata as a demon of a boss (as he was her former boss), and can be quite harsh with her in every day life. Though, even from their first encounters in the first chapters, you can tell he's touchingly considerate towards her, and even protective throughout the manga.
Same things could be said, while Shibata gets to know more about Kurosawa, she meets other women in his life. At first, I'd think that the manga would build up some kind of a romantic rivalry. Instead, and maybe too easily, their nicer side would be told.
Reading these laudatory thoughts about the characters, I'm sure you'd think "fine, but there's nothing that special". Overall, the manga isn't a masterpiece, a must read of any sorts. The art is quite standard, there isn't some incredibly deep backstory, it doesn't tell any grand truth about life, it isn't moving to the tears, or anything that stands out that much. The manga doesn't hold that kind of ambition, but the story is well told. It isn't overly dramatic, even if some backstories could get over the top, the characters handle them with modesty and/or maturity (not so much from Shibata, but that's her).
What makes the whole read worth it is the pacing. From a comment that made me read the manga, I kept "I enjoyed every chapter of it". And I would not say that about most mangas I read. There's always some part that I dislike, sometimes because I find some character not coherent enough, or the story not credible, or just too much drama of some kind. This far into the manga, the rythm works well, it doesn't rely on cliffhangers or plot twists, while in the meantime the characters evolve steadily through each chapter.
I can't wait to read more of it, and might update this review when I'll have a better grasp on the whole story.
I actually read a little bit of Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai, and then stopped because I thought it was going to be one of those josei manga where the sadistic male protagonist is just bullying the weak female protagonist all the time as she's just helplessly along for the ride, and it's often a boss/subordinate situation too. (At one point early on, Kurosawa even tells Shibata to be his servant.) There's a ton of josei out there like that, and it's a trope I really hate, so I stopped reading. Then I learned it's by the same manga author is the same one
who wrote Lovely Complex, so I decided to give it another go, and I'm glad I did.
It's true that at the very beginning the two protagonists' dynamic is more like Kurosawa pushing Shibata around. He's constantly dumping on her for being so stupid for being scammed by a guy who has no intention of dating her. But if you can get past that part, their dynamic changes pretty quickly as Shibata starts fighting back. They then end up in a fairly amusing bickering couple dynamic instead. It also is gradually revealed that despite all of Kurosawa's criticisms, he's not really got it together himself, putting the characters on much more even ground, rather than typical aforementioned josei trope that relies on a huge power imbalance, which for me is kind of a turn-off. For those that found this manga because they loved Lovely Complex, this is a definite must-read, because their relationship dynamic is basically an adult version of Ootani and Koizumi's.
In conclusion, if you enjoy the bickering couple dynamic, this is definitely a good one. The author did a really good job at writing a slow will-they/won't-they romance that feels natural rather than artificially prolonged with annoying over-the-top drama. I especially enjoy reading Shibata, as she is an very atypical josei protagonist. She has a lot of character versus the typical bland protagonist.
Upon completion, I'd say the story shifts focus. In the beginning, the story is more focused on the main MC's life, which I found more relatable than the family drama of the male MC. His family literally barges into his cafe to either stir up drama intentionally or find another reason to shift our attention from the girl MC to the guy's family drama. It gets stale after a while: first issues with his older brother and then moving onto his father. Then the girl MC's father busts into the cafe out of nowhere for more family drama. I had to skim the middle part
of the male MC's issue with his rich dad - seems like a plot line right out of kdrama.
In the beginning, I found the struggles the girl MC have mirrored much of my life. I am in my late twenties, similar to the MC. Her struggles are super relatable. You kinda know the two MCs will get together, except you don't know when. What I admire about the romance is that their relationship actually progresses from a friendship/mutual earned respect/trust. The two MCs don't get together immediately. They talk to each other and actually develop a friendship before that's considered. Feels more real, ya know? It's not like BAM Kare Kano style where from love confession the two MCs literally stop talking and just make out all the time.
Super relatable. Who hasn't spent the early 20s pining over younger guys only for literally their face? She is a super relatable doormat who does get better. Believe me, I thought it started off depressing because it was like seeing my life thus far: paying for a guy who ditches you for his friends and totally takes advantage of you, taking other people's workload because they asked. But then she starts developing better friendships, aside from pining for romance like a typical shoujo MC. From the friendship she develops with the various characters, she develops boundaries and learns what it means to take care of your needs I think. She realizes where her limits are and when to trust other people in her life, other than the main MC. Middle wise it got to kdrama land with drama between the male MC and his dad. Yes of course the main guy has to be from a super wealthy family who has financially separated from him: he has to work and he has chosen to work as a chef for the family cafe. I like how it shows you can still be thoughtful without money from merely the act of cooking for someone. The male MC cares for his friends from the food he cooks, not just lavishly throwing money onto the female MC. (I'm looking at you stupid kdrama fantasies!)
Pros are the characters, aside from the family members of the male MC & the girl's dad, are developed and concrete. The family members seem there just to unleash the male MC's baggage onto the world - aka the cafe... Aside from the unnecessary melodrama, I am glad the girl really grows from doormat to eventually someone who stands up for herself, even in front of her dad at the end and thinks about herself and even what she wants to eat through the help of her friends. Yes her male MC is her friend first before they get together (which hello was obvious from the very nature of this Rom-Com).
For those folks out there that enjoyed "Lovely Complex" (myself included) this manga is pretty good! Although the characters are older I find it wonderful to relate to myself! The main character is very naive and has trouble making up her mind, but she is rather sweet and silly. As for the main male character, he is well done and comes off very mature. He hasn't really express too much interest, but it is in his nature not to expose too much of his own emotions. I personally love the main characters interactions, very funny! So far the pace this manga is going at
is great too. I'm sure it will progress better as the story continues. I urge you all to read it! I can't wait until the next chapter.