I began reading this manga under the false pretense that it'd be good, since I saw so many recommendations and good reviews, and apparently it's the most popular shoujo manga of all time (even though I'd never heard of it before stumbling upon a reccomendation on this site). But I was extremely disappointed.
Story - Absolutely dreadful. The only thing that kept me from dropping this manga was my curiosity. I wanted to know who Makino would end up with, and if she really would conquer against those who bullied her, like was established in the beginning of the manga. But that never happened. I don't know about any of you, but I'd be pretty damned pissed at a guy who ordered the whole school to bully me, physically abused me and even attempted to rape me. No one ever thought about how the heroine felt, either. It was always made out to seem that all was her fault, and that she was supposed to fall in love with someone who "loved" her, even if they'd abused her in the past, and that she owed him everytime he saved her, even when she did not ask to be saved. The mangaka even tried to fix that issue by laying on a sad excuse like "he's different when Makino's around", and therefore he needed her, and because of that, they were meant for each other. That shouldn't excuse abusive behavior. This is the perfect example of what a romance SHOULDN'T be. And don't even get me started on the multiple potential love interests that pop up throughout this series. Seriously, how many men are going to fall in love with one girl?
Art - I have no complaints about the art. It's pretty fair, although I think the art became a bit more plain as the series progressed. It became neater, but lacked the same personality as the beginning volumes.
Character - I'm a bit split on this, because in my opinion, it seemed that every character besides the female lead and the male lead had great character development. In my opinion, Makino's character went backwards a bit. She was still as stubborn as she was in the beginning, but that isn't the same as being strong to me. There were many times when she could have justifiably supported herself, helped herself, and escaped that abusive relationship. But she did not, because everyone made it seem as though she had to stick around, as if she owed the bully something by unintentionally making him fall for her. With the bully, he never owned up to all of the horrible and abusive things he'd done. And he only apologized a total of what? Two times in the entirety of this series? His "character development", if you could call it that, was that he became less abusive towards those around him.
Enjoyment - I didn't really enjoy it much at all. Those are hours of my life that I probably won't get back.
Overall, I really did not like this manga. I suppose that since this is a pretty old manga, that it'd become an archetype, a basis for modern shoujo to base off of, and that would result in many of the cliches. One could even give credit to this manga for helping other mangakas make better manga. So, in a sense, I'm a bit greatful for all of the flaws in this manga. It COULD have been interesting, at the time. But, I think if it were me and I'd began reading this back then, as a female, I'd have still been disappointed in where this story went. But I guess with a manga like this, you either love it, or you hate it. It all depends on where your preferences lie, and your point of view. I view it this this one way, and I think it is awful. So I really, truly, would not recommend this manga to anyone.