Kanako is a young woman who is running an old book store. One day, a customer comes in who shares her taste in books. He's a teenager named Akio, and he and Kanako quickly find that their taste in books is only the first of many ways that they fit together well. Kanako immediately realizes she wants him, and soon blurts out awkward things, like proposals of marriage and cohabitation. Despite their different ages and their awkwardness, it seems like their relationship has the potential to grow into something beautiful.
Futari no Renai Shoka is a sweet, vanilla romance about two bookish people from broken families who find comfort, solace, and love in each other. The only possible turn-off for some might be the 10 year age-gap: when the manga begins, she is in her mid-20s, while he is about to enter high school (10th grade). If that doesn't bother you, then this is an extremely good romance manga.
The story is fairly simple, as this is mostly a slice-of-life romance. The little story that is here is driven by the two fascinating characters. Young woman takes over her father's old bookshop,
meets a bookish boy who is oddly mature for his age, and immediately proposes to him. He's taken back, but intrigued enough to start seeing her. It turns out that they both have similarly bad family backgrounds, both love books, and they use that to slowly build their relationship.
It's simple, but very well written. My only regret is that the manga wasn't longer. The story ended at a reasonable point, and most of her background was fully explored, but his was left somewhat vague. Besides, I loved the characters enough, I would have thoroughly enjoyed spending more time with them.
The art is solid, but unspectacular. The pacing was good, it ended well (if a little abruptly). There is almost no fan-service here (they even make a joke about that at one point), and the relationship remains remarkably chaste.
In other words, if you like a good vanilla romance, and the age-gap isn't a massive turn-off for you, then there is no reason not to give this a try.
"Have you ever had a book you couldn't help but flip through when you remembered it?
A book you kept coming back to, over and over again?
That's what you are to me."
Futari no Renai Shoka is a case of getting many things right about telling a short yet profound romance story. Conveniences and clichés are present but they are layered well enough that none of them stands out enough to drag the story in unwanted directions. It took me quite some thinking to come up with a reasoning behind why this manga left an emotional impact within me, nevertheless it’s a work that I can’t
help falling in love with.
The romance progression escalates quickly and then moves forward to new heights reflecting on what it really means to have a relationship with a person. By relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean in a romantic lens. While there is a sense of progression in the story, it also attempts to be character driven in which its main strength is through interactions between people. Normally, dialogues of confessions and intimate talk can get really cheesy and pretentious but the manga finds a balance between depth and practicality. The characters can say something meaningful but it doesn’t feel disconnecting to the overall narrative. There is weight behind the words spoken. They can ramble about a certain subject and there will always be a subtle impact left behind by chosen words and lines. Of course, the theme of the story revolves around the passion for books and literature and the story does a good job of integrating that with the development story and character-wise.
Like mentioned before, there are clichés found in the manga. While they don’t stand out a lot, there are some of them that could’ve been omitted and the story would still remain fantastic. For example, there is the static high school setting since Akio is still a student. If the story attempted to explore that setting, then it would lose focus on Kanako and Akio’s growing relationship potentially harming the very beautiful conclusion the story has in store.
My only issue I have with this manga that I can’t ignore is that it focused too much on Kanako’s side of the story leaving Akio’s characterization much to be desired. There are chapters where it subtly displays bits of Akio’s life before he met Kanako which helps in understanding his mindset. However, it felt disappointing that the story didn’t give closure to Akio’s side of the story even though he helped resolving the conflict on Kanako’s side. Maybe adding an extra chapter or two wouldn’t harm the story’s brevity. I am really curious of his family situation and how it shaped him up until now since the story did the same thing with Kanako. The only assurance that I can get from this issue is that Akio identified himself within Kanako’s predicament and that it helped him gain some confidence and resolve as her significant other and as a growing young man. In a way, the story has a coming-of-age feel to it.
Overall, I recommend this to people who like their romance brief yet meaningful. It doesn’t sidetrack to less significant subplots and the overall story goes straight to the point and provides a satisfying climax and conclusion. Be prepared to be enticed with its love for words and get absorbed in a world full of books. It’s not only a love story between two people brought together by their shared passion, but it’s also a love letter to literature and how it can transcend into something timeless and connect people no matter who they are and where they come from.