Every once in a while, you want a story that’s ordinary, no flying princesses, no dashing knights (or demons), and no chirping sidekick. Happily, Japanese manga has always had its share of tales of school, dating, and teen life, something that distinguishes manga from U.S. comics. Love Roma is just such a tale: everyday girls dealing with guys equally unsure of themselves, struggling to work up the courage to ask out a recent crush, and depending upon friends to help, guide them away from their own fears and toward taking chances.
When the blunt, honest and slightly awkward Hoshino confesses his love for Negishi, she reacts the way any girl who’s never been asked out before would: stuttering, flattered, and not quite sure whether this guy is really the guy she’s wants to try out this whole dating thing with. Negishi is eventually won over, but these two lovebirds-to-be are still taking baby steps in figuring out when to kiss, how to make up after a fight, and just how to say what they’re feeling without acting like a big dork. Or at least owning their dork status and not caring.
Love Roma’s art is intentionally simple and clear, almost childlike, but the content is amusingly, affectionately teen. Toyoda, one of few male manga creators writing romantic comedies, has a great flair for finding silliness in innocent misunderstandings while also pulling it all back to the important things: liking, even loving, someone despite all the little habits that drive other people nuts. Liking someone because of those habits. Everyone wants that, and it’s rare thing to find your match, even if they are a bit goofy.
Love Roma: Volume 1
by Minoru Toyoda
Del Rey Manga, 2005