Manga Spotlight: My Love Story!!

My Love Story!! is a 13 volume shojo manga series written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko. The series was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint.

My Love Story!!
Written by: Kazune Kawahara
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Dates: July 1, 2014-September 5, 2017

The main character of My Love Story!! is a boy named Takeo Goda. He’s a very big high school student, but he’s also got a very big heart. His best friend is Makoto Sunakawa, who’s very popular with the girls but always seems to turn them down when they ask him out.

One day while Takeo and Makoto are taking the train, Takeo notices a guy who looks like he’s about to grab a girl’s butt and he intervenes. Takeo takes the groper off at the next stop, and Makoto and the girl come with them. When the groper says something offensive to the girl, Takeo punches him in the face. Unfortunately, a cop was there, so he ends up being suspended from school.

Later, while Takeo is at home, the girl (Rinko Yamato) comes to Takeo’s house to thank him for his help. Takeo realizes that he’s in love with her. Rinko accidentally leaves her phone there, and she calls from a payphone, and they arrange to meet up so he can get it back to her. Rinko keeps contacting Takeo to offer him treats that she’s made, and he always brings Makoto along, thinking that Rinko likes Makoto. But Takeo is very surprised when Makoto tells him that Rinko’s in love with Takeo, and the two of them become a couple by the end of the volume.

At first, the tension in the story comes from the awkwardness of starting a new relationship, especially since both Takeo and Rinko have never been in a romantic relationship previous to this point. But this awkwardness is adorable, and it makes both of these characters feel realistic and likable. Obviously, you can’t use this awkwardness as the sole source of tension for 13 volumes, so there are other obstacles thrown in. It seemed that for most of the series, there was at least one story in every volume that provided an obstacle for Takeo and Rinko’s relationship. I thought this was a good thing, because it’d be boring to read a manga where the main protagonists are always happy and have no problems. Takeo and Rinko’s biggest obstacle appears in the last two volumes of the series, and even though there was ultimately a bit of a saccharine ending to both that obstacle and the series as a whole, I still found it to be rewarding. I followed along with the story from the very beginning, so I was happy to see how things worked out for the two of them in the end.

While most of My Love Story!! focuses on Takeo and Rinko’s relationship, there are occasionally stories focusing on other characters. Makoto gets a couple of storylines, and even Makoto’s older sister and her love life receive a storyline. In the cases where other characters receive the focus, we still see Takeo and Rinko, but they appear more as bit players than as the main focus. While I enjoyed reading and following Takeo and Rinko, it was also a nice change of pace to see a storyline for characters other than them.

One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that Makoto, the “beautiful boy” character who you would expect to be the lead in a shojo manga, is a supporting character. I appreciated the fact that Kawahara took the chance to make her protagonist someone you wouldn’t expect for this genre. To me, this helps to make My Love Story!! stand out from many of the other titles in the shojo genre. Makoto actually made for a great best friend character for Takeo, but part of me wished he could find the same kind of happiness and love that Takeo had with Rinko. He does so much to support Takeo and Rinko over the course of the series, so it would’ve been nice to see him get the happiness I felt he deserved. But maybe he got his happiness through seeing Takeo and Rinko’s relationship surviving the various hurdles that got in the way?

As I read the series, I enjoyed Aruko’s art style. While some of the characters and tropes fall into the typical shojo category, there are other elements that don’t. The most obvious of these elements is the design of Takeo. He doesn’t have the “beautiful boy” look that is generally associated with the male lead of a shojo manga series, and I find this to be a refreshing change of pace.

My Love Story!! is a very sweet manga series, and it should appeal to readers who appreciate shojo manga, especially stories that feature a character who’s normally seen as an underdog when it comes to love.

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