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Old 01-24-2008, 01:13 PM   #1
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something about Fall in Love Like a Comic

something about Fall in Love Like a Comic

A sample chapter of Fall in Love Like a Comic was in the Shojo Beat’s September 2007 issue. It was fun and silly enough to peak my interest - either that, or I was interested in it for meta-reasons.

In Japan, Shogakukan’s Sho-Comi magazine was voted “the number one manga magazine that should not be read by children”. Sho-Comi’s steamy underage kissing scenes make it notorious smut on the manga market. I flipped through an issue of Cheese! (also on the list), and it’s a lot of deep, deep blushing and kisses with heavy breathing. It’s pretty tame as far as softcore porn - except all the characters are in middle school!

Fall in Love Like a Comic features protagonist Rena Sakura, a professional manga artist (manga-ka) who’s still in high school1. In my older-pervert interpretation of the story Rena works for a magazine like Sho-Comi - the evidence being the manga Rena draws is famous for its steamy kissing scenes. Tomoyo Okita is the hottest and therefore most popular boy in school (who can also cook). When Tomoyo finds out about Rena’s secret manga career, he starts dating her for blackmail/romance research for her comics.

Rena falls in love with Tomoyo despite their sometimes-secret and so-called “research” relationship, which heretofore has consisted of “I’ll show you what real kissing is like” scenes. It’s predictable and cliched, but Fall in Love Like a Comic’s saving grace is that it continually draws attention to the fact that these things normally only happen “in a comic”. The meta-level of the love story cushions the cliches and makes it all bearable and surprisingly sweet.

The art of Fall in Love Like a Comic features character designs mysteriously similar to Card Captor Sakura. The flowers and tones are total cliche versions of the Ribbon and Margret books that stare back at you from the pink aisle at Book Off. On a parody level, it’s totally appropriate. But forget about that - the best parts of the comic are when Rena goes all melty or “mero mero” in Tomoyo’s arms:

This happens a lot, and it continues to be hilarious every time.

Some of the manga-making terms in Fall in Love Like a Comic need a glossary, but sadly, they go undefined. I know what a “name” (pronounced nah-may) is from reading the author’s notes in Nosatsu Junkie - it’s like a rough storyboard. The term comes up a lot in Fall in Love Like a Comic, but without a single footnote! Either Viz has a lot of faith in hardcore manga fans, or else they are totally dropping the ball.

By the middle of volume one Tomoyo and Rena have admitted they are dating “for real” and their relationship faces it’s first hurdle. Tomoyo is starring in a television drama based on one of Rena’s comics, and he has to perform a kissing scene with his pop idol costar. Most shojo would save this kind of plot to fill up all of volume two but fortunately Fall in Love Like a Comic is only two volumes long.

The problem with modern romance tales, and especially shojo manga, is a lack of conflict. In old-fashioned romance tales parents, societies, wars and prejudice keep lovers apart, but in modern, realistic romance stories there are no convincing reasons a couple shouldn’t be together. Shojo often resorts to cliches to fill the conflict gap: the popular boy’s fan club is pissed off at the new girlfriend; an ex-girlfriend shows up; the lovers happen to be step-siblings, etc. Fall in Love Like a Comic handles the bag of shojo cliches with dignity and meta-humor. Thank god it’s only two volumes long! It’ll end just before the joke gets old.

Sadly volume one of Fall in Love Like a Comic is really short, and the book is padded out by the author’s debut manga short, an over-toned piece about a Card Captor Sakura clone going to magic school- her overnight homework is to turn her dog into a human. There’s a certain “WTF-je ne sais quais” to the story (unexpected frozen pond!) but it’s pretty blas.

I’m definitely picking up volume two! Apparently it’s padded out by 12 pages of drawing tips from Yagami.

This review is based on complimentary copies provided by the publisher. Volume one of Fall in Love Like a Comic will be available October 2nd. The second and finally volume comes out in January.

1 Actually I thought Rena was in junior high (by her lack of experience on first base) or even elementary school (judging by her character design).

share you a site to read this manga:link
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