Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Love & Lies Volume Two Review

Nejima and Lilina end up interviewed by their government caseworkers for their government arranged marriage and learn all of the studies testing and effort the government puts into it while Lilina continues to try and nudge Nejima and Takasaki into surreptitiously expressing their feelings for each other and also finds herself falling for Nejima in spite of herself. While Nejima also has to deal with being alone with both girls on a family camping trip and invites Nisaka along on it making for a frankly miserable trip for the most part. This volume continues the series problematic writing of wanting to "eat its cake and have it too" as concerns Nejima and his potential relationships with Takasaki and Lilina and Nisaka's entire relationship with Nejima is drenched in dramatic irony. Eventually, a decision has to be made by Nejima and while it's romantic to think of Nejima and Takasaki ending up together. There is no real chemistry or interactions other than a few furtive kisses and one awkward moment in a dark forest. While Lilina is simply naive and told that she is just that by Nisaka in one of the few refreshingly honest parts of dialogue in the entire volume in a speech where he tells Lilina that she risks endangering Nejima's future and educational plans. Really what makes this volume frustrating is it feels like what I wanted in more focus on characterization and the relationships meant taking all logical and critical thinking and reducing the main love triangle to a poorly written series of interactions. While also being frustrating because it's not impossible to write a thoughtful romantic comedy or drama with a love triangle or with multiple love interests two prominent examples being Masakazu Katsura's Manga I"s and the 1988 Kimagure Orange Road film I Want to Return to That Day. Instead, Love & Lies feels deathly afraid of offending fans of either of the main heroines or having any real consequences. Again making for a frustrating read because the few moments of honesty or interactions that don't feel like loaded dice towards some kind of process to draw out the story. Have real promise along with the fact that for all intents purposes the government mandated system seems extremely successful with the majority of the couples that were matched with it appearing very happy. For a system that is supposed to be so draconian and soul-crushing, it sure has a lot of satisfied people even the throwaway character at the end that is injected into the story to give a chance for Nejima to be noble in front of Lilina's only complaint is that his wife is not pretty. I continue to hold out hope that this series will improve but as now it's lost in a mire cliche and poor two-dimensional character writing. Interspersed with moments of honesty that make it better than it should be.

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