Love*Com Vol. 2 (Viz Media/Shojo Beat)

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lovecom2-header.jpgThe winter holidays prove perfect fodder for this "odd couple" comedy about a tall girl and short boy who can't realize that they're meant for each other.

 

 

192 pgs. B&W; $8.99

(W / A: Aya Nakahara)

 

If you're in the mood for some holiday-themed shojo, Love*Com Vol. 2 and a mug of hot cocoa might be just the ticket. The series is based on a fairly common "odd couple" formula—tall, tomboyish Risa valiantly attempts to resist her attraction to her friend Otani who, at  5'1", is the shortest player on their junior high basketball team. As with any shojo, it's obvious that the mismatched duo will encounter various difficulties along the road to true happiness or ultimate despair. However, Love*Com distinguishes itself from the rest through its surprisingly believable story arcs and charming self-awareness.

 

The cover to Love*Com Vol. 2. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Instead of bending over backwards to throw her characters into intriguing dramatic situations, Nakahara allows things to develop naturally. In Vol. 2, we discover that the rap show Risa and Otani had been looking forward to attending (as friends, of course!) are for Christmas Eve, traditionally Japan's most romantic night of the year. Sure, it's a wacky coincidence, but most shojo writers would resort to a more unnatural and out-of-place plot development, like a sudden trip to a beach resort. As if being forced to spend Christmas together wasn't awkward enough, Risa's still reeling from the fact that a carnival romance compatibility machine said that she and Otani were 100% made for each other. And on top of that, Otani's ex-girlfriend (who looks just like their classmate Chiharu, only "with her hair not inked in," as Risa helpfully notes) is back in town.

 

The holiday hijinks continue with a Valentine's Day arc, wherein Risa's old classmate Haruka turns out to be a creepy, codependent stalker, and Otani acts passive-aggressive about whether or not he wants a valentine. This story of star-crossed love is turning out to be that rare thing—a romantic comedy that's actually funny. Part of the book's charm is in Nakahara's snide editorial asides and self-mocking attitude. In this volume, she's included some D.I.Y. Love*Com stationery—"use a copier to make as many sheets as you want. What a pain in the butt!! Uh oh...maybe you don't want it...after all?" The stationery might not be a smash hit, but so far, Love*Com does not disappoint. | J. Bowers

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