The hot and heroic doctor, the one you’ve spent five years becoming a nurse in order to meet again, rejects your confession of love on the very first day of your new job, working with him. What’s a girl to do? Nanase Sakura finds herself in this exact situation in the first pages of Maki Enjoji’s new series An Incurable Case of Love, a light and upbeat romance from Viz’s Shojo Beat.
The manga follows the story of Nanase Sakura, who is beginning her training as a nurse after finishing exams. Shown in an early flashback, Sakura decided to become a nurse after witnessing an elderly woman collapse. At that time, Sakura didn’t know what to do to help the woman until a man—a very handsome one—came across them. His medical knowledge and confidence saves the woman and inspires Sakura to pursue medicine in order to ultimately meet said handsome man—revealed to be Dr. Tendo—again. Back in the present, Sakura’s training just so happens to be at the hospital where Dr. Tendo works. And just as it seems the stars are aligning in Sakura’s favor, Dr. Tendo rejects Sakura’s confession, admitting he doesn’t even remember her from so many years ago, leaving Sakura crushed.
The confession, and subsequent rejection, earns Sakura the nickname Valiant One from the other nurses, who view her confession as a brazen act of bravery. But rather than basking in any sort of glory, Sakura instead has to grapple with the reality; she fell in love with the idea of Tendo, rather than who he actually is. And, according to all the other nurses, who Tendo “actually is” is a cold, impersonal doctor, possibly a womanzier, that is focused on his patients, his work, and little to nothing else.
What ensues are chapters that develop and explore Sakura’s navigation of her feelings towards Tendo, oscillating among continuing adoration, attempts at indifference, and finally friendship. Teasing out what happens to our plucky heroine when the “love-at-first-sight” trope fails to deliver a happy ending is probably the most redeeming aspect of this otherwise fairly run-of-the-mill romance. The artwork smoothly and deftly communicates the emotion and romantic tension of the story, and expressive faces and eyes are definitely the standout of the manga’s art.
But fans of more experimental or highly stylized art won’t find much here, as will those those looking for new or subversive takes on romantic stories. An Incurable Case of Love, instead, is a solid but typical romantic story. A few chapters turn into damsel rescues, and those familiar with the Enjoji’s other prominent work, Happy Marriage?!, will notice some slight similarities with the use of these tropes. Dr. Tendo is protective, at times to the point of possessiveness, over Sakura that can be a bit troubling as well as reinforce some stereotypical gender roles. Those stereotypical gender roles also manifest in the doctor/nurse division: all the doctors are male and all the nurses, save one, are female.
These tropes, along with alcohol use and a chapter dealing with sexual harassment in the first volume, push An Incurable Case of Love to a mature rating best suited for an adult audience. I would generally recommend the series; it’s a satisfying, well-paced romance that doesn’t fall into too many of the more uncomfortable or unsettling tropes, especially when compared to Enjoji’s other work, Happy Marriage?!. I felt compelled to keep reading after finishing a chapter or volume, but, like a lot of romantic fluff, it didn’t stick around too much after I set it down.
A Dose of Love
By Maki Enjoji
Publisher Age Rating: Mature (18+)
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)