Thursday, February 15, 2018

Love & Lies Volume 4 Review

Nejima and Ririna still on the outs from the events of last volume Nejima tries to focus on helping with the school play while Misaki struggles with her lingering feelings for Nejima while not wanting to hurt Ririna who Misaki considers a friend. While Yusuke tries to get out of the play and deal with his perpetually embarrassing dad only to agree to do it after Nejima encourages him. While several former classmates from Nejima and Misaki's past also make an appearance as well having various connections to the main love triangle. All of the story leading up to the performance of Romeo & Juliet that goes down as a great performance beyond the gender-swapped hook and ending on a mysterious proclamation by one of Misaki's Middle School friends Igarashi. While the strongest volume of this often "touch and go" quality series and having some of the best character development of the volumes from Misaki's heartfelt confession Nejima learning to be reflective even a throwaway joke about Nejima's obsession with Kofun. This new found interest in interiority while making Nejima feel less like a cipher and Misaki like an actual human being. Grinds the entire story's pacing and plot momentum to an almost dead stop in several places while also relying on hackneyed cliches and tropes. The most obvious being the fact that of Romeo and Juliet is an obvious metaphor or symbolic representation of the inherent unfairness of the arranged marriage system in general and Nejima and Misaki's relationship in particular. Although interestingly the first line of the play that is heard in the volume is Romeo's speech when he looks upon the body of Juliet in the tomb. Possible ominous foreshadowing? Possibly but I don't know if a series this bland would have the guts to actually be that dark. While a vast improvement over the first three volumes the turgid pace and stop-start character development make for an agonizing reading experience with the chapters focusing on the preparation feeling soporific in its focus on Nejima trying to encourage Yusuke to not drop out of the play and also have a long discursive conversation on love and it's really only to have any weight, drama, or thoughtfulness undercut by the aforementioned Kofun joke showing that while a joke can be funny its placement can ruin the ethos of a scene or how it is set up. In conclusion, a volume that simply feels like part of a series that is spinning its wheels with hard to have any real investment in the characters no matter how much Musawo-Sensei tries to force us to feel something. Not to mention the odd asides from Nejima's caseworker obliquely referencing his past to Misaki's annoying younger brother who simply is in a hand full of scenes to be the annoying sibling cliche. This does not even any real emotional truth except love is hard and even then it's hard to feel much sympathy as the last hour attempt to develop characters. That three volumes worth of material frittered away for Shonen Romance cliches and wasted opportunities at profundity. Still, I can hope that the series improves as there some whispers of an interesting concept it's just so severely botched in execution that so much of it comes off as tone deaf or sniveling.

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