Junjo Romantica Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nakamura Shingiku
Translated by:Katherine Schilling
Adapted by:Katherine Schilling

What They Say
Misaki, struggling to pass his college entrance exams, is in need of a tutor to help pump up his failing grades. Unfortunately, his only option is the cool and sexy Akihiko Usami. Usami happens to be a famous boys' love novelist, which doesn't exactly float Misaki's boat, especially since his main characters are "Akihiko" and "Takahiro," the name of Misaki's older brother and Usami's childhood friend.

Understandably, Misaki is pretty disgusted by the thought of someone using his older brother as his personal fantasy-material, but then after some tender loving from Usami, Misaki is also pretty confused. He may even be developing feelings for the older man... And when Takahiro introduces them to his lovely (female) fiancee, so begins the bumpy relationship of this odd couple, filled with comedy and pure romance.

The Review
High school is a common setting for anime and manga. As a matter of fact considering the type of title that is brought over to the west an argument could be made that the majority of manga title feature high school and high school students in some way or another. However, even if the runs of many of those title last more than three years it is rare to see graduation. And as uncommon is the day to day struggle that is the life of a high school senior going through exams. We saw some of it in I"s but the hours of tutoring, the anxiety of potential failure and the frustration over family/society imposed pressure was missing from that shonen romance. All that is present in Junjo Romantica has it all in some fashion and it adds an element that has been makes it an more amusing story as well.

Misaki is living exam hell now. Young man has bombed in his prelim exams and if his scores are any indicator of his future he might as well apply for a job at FamilyMart or MosBurger now. There is no way he is going to college let alone Meiji Univ. But he is not giving up. Family matters to Misaki, so he is going to fulfill his brother's wish and make the grade no matter what it takes.

Whatever it takes means "whatever". He decides to go to a tutor who happens to be a something of a freak. A little rich boy who turned his talent for writing prose into a nice gig as a BL novelist! This tutor also has a long one-sided crush on Misaki's older brother so who knows what the motivation the writer has for taking a loser under his wing. But considering who tutor is the reasons must not be decent or average in any way. Eventually, the lessons end up becoming sessions in love and what better motivation can you have for studying when romance could come out of it! (Even if it might be written into a novel someday.) Misaki's hell does not improve once exams are over though. He might have a new tutor and friend, but now he has to find a place to stay, work and time to study on top of that. Can Usami help him find an answer to those problems? Or is Usami the problem??

If there was anything I found annoying about Junjo Romantica was how there were a few chapters from a separate short story tossed in the middle. I almost felt that story was could have come out of Usami's novels. I felt there was a cute thing going and the rhythm was lost after that. Can't stop a romance comedy right when it gets good. BLU's paper also felt a little cheap. The paper holds the print well, but my book looks yellow only after a couple months. Overall, though fun title with potential as a romance comedy.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Blu
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 198
ISBN: 1-598167-19-7
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left