Friday, August 25, 2017

Love & Lies Volume One Review

In the future, the Japanese government has instituted a system using various forms of testing and social engineering and genetic testing to figure out a government approved arranged marriage partner for when citizens turn sixteen years old. In the hopes of reversing the declining Japanese birth rate. For the most part has proven immensely successful at creating a more successful and intelligent new generation of Japanese youth through this form of social engineering. Into this world of socially engineered romance lives a boy named Yukari Nejima an average High School boy who on the cusp of his Sixteenth birthday decides to pluck up his courage and confess his feelings to his childhood crush Misaki a beautiful "girl next door." Only to receive his notice of his government assigned partner after he has confessed his feelings and Misaki has reciprocated his feelings. So begins a love triangle under the watchful eye of the government. In parts, romantic comedy and romantic drama Love & Lies is simple but not insultingly so but it doesn't try to imbue the teenage emotions of the cast with a kind of world ending solemnity that some Romance Manga try to instill in their storylines. Yukari for his part is very much a simple non-entity content to pine after Misaki and occasionally enthuse about his interest in ancient Japanese burial mounds called Kofun. Being overall awkward and stumbling over himself in attempts to interact with others. When his government assigned partner the prickly Lilina Sanada is introduced the story gets its first real interjection of personality in the story. As Misaki is very much a bland nice girl of course how much of this is because she is seen through the filter of Yukari's love for her. In the first part of the story is up to debate, overall except for the one instance where Masaki enthuses about all the little things she likes about Yukari from his hair whorl to awkward running stance and that is endearing and it at least helps Masaki be a little more human and a little less wish fulfillment girlfriend. In all honesty, Lilina is the most engaging character in the volume being alternatively awkward, book smart, and self-sacrificing it's hard not to feel like someone will have their heart broken in later volumes though. Overall Love & Lies is able to take a seemingly dystopian setting show how it is beneficial to society while harmful to the individual without making the government a stand in for one's parents. How bad you think the government mandated marriage system is will depend on how much you sympathize with Yukari and Misaki's seemingly star crossed plight. I couldn't find myself to care all that much as the sum total of their affection for each other stems from one seemingly inconsequential act of kindness on Yukari's part. That Yukari and Misaki both hold onto in secret. Sure first love can spring from seemingly mundane things but this feels hollow at best. While the art is crudely drawn in its attempts at super deformed comedic bits. While overall the character design feels blurry and could benefit from sharper of cleaner line work and an overuse of screen tone makes clothing and hair look muddy not as crisply defined as it could be. In conclusion, this volume sets up a fictional world that is more interesting than the characters that inhabit it hopefully in future volumes I can grow to actually care about the problems of the characters instead of wishing for a volume full of world building and lore in what is ostensibly a romance manga for teens.

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