Love Roma Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 0-345-48262-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Love Roma Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     November 30, 2005
Release Date: September 01, 2005

Love Roma Vol.#01
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Minoru Toyoda
Translated by:David and Eriko Walsh
Adapted by:

What They Say
Love Roma is a story of love at first sight - literally. When Hoshino sees Hegishi for the first time, he asks her to be his girlfriend. Shocked, Negishi nevertheless agrees to allow Hoshino to walk her home, while he explains why he is in love with her. Touched, Negishi begins to feel something for this strange young boy from her school.

A fun, romantic comedy, Love Roma is about the simple kind of relationships we all longed for when we were young.

The Review
Minoru Toyoda’s deadpan “love comedy” is one of the more charming and freshly unique title of the genre, featuring two of the sweetest characters that one can’t help but root for and fall in love with.

The cover features the original illustration from the Japanese tankoubon release. It's a pretty cute cover featuring our two lovebirds standing in front of some floral patterns featuring bring yellows, pinks, and oranges that give it a 60's retro feel. I like how the back cover uses sample colored panels from inside as a summary. The print reproduction is incredibly solid, as seems to be the norm for Del Rey titles.

Inside there is a two-page honorifics guide and a translator's notes section in the back which help explain a lot of the cultural aspects of the story. Chapters include headers, occassional inserts from the author, and a chapter epilogues called "Bonus Track" which works as a humorous finale to the previous chapter. At the back of the book is commentary from the creator as well as a 4-page preview for the next volume which is left in its raw Japanese format.

Simple in form, Minoru Toyoda's artwork is a style that will most likely throw off readers who are expecting more of the standard shounen or shoujo affair. Character artwork is blocky and rigid, resembling a style that I associate more with strip panel comics, but it is completely appropriate for the title.

Despite the simplistic form, Toyoda is able to get across appropriate emotions on his characters' faces which brings them to life. He also has a great sense of composition and panel direction, nicely stringing events together and building up to pay offs usually done in a full two-page panel that is wonderfully illustrated. There are also plenty of backgrounds that provide nice depth and perspective, but keep with the simple style.

SFX are translated with subs placed in small fonts next to the original. It's a fair job overall, but there is some clutter in the panels that featured a lot of SFX when the class would clap or cheer for Hoshino and Negishi.

Translation is quite solid, keeping the honorifics in place which is critical for this title. All the cultural references and jokes (e.g., Boke and Tsukkomi) are kept in place with a nice "Translation Notes" section in the back of the book that features good bits of information. The one aspect which was critical for this title was keeping Hoshino's deadpan delivery intact, as that is the driving force for most of the humor, and the adaptation is perfect at keeping his character quirks intact.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
If I try to remember past the haze of college into my middle school years, the so-called relationships I was in were endearingly charming but always completely awkward. Boy (or girl) would surprise their prospective crush at their locker or deliver a secret letter and pop the question, "Would you go out with me?". Boy (or girl) would then spend the next couple weeks sitting next to the new "friend" in the cafeteria, on the bus, and if lucky would maybe get to hold a hand or put an arm around a waist. Boys wanted to get to that first kiss, as a rite of passage and for bragging rights to their friends. Girls wanted, well, I'm not sure what they wanted. Perhaps that is why the relationships usually only lasted a couple weeks on average. These times were sweet and innocent, awkward and bizarre, and this is what Minoru Toyoda captures so well in this seinen "love comedy".

The boy in this manga is Hoshino, whose frankness and deadpan delivery make up the majority of the numerous comedic moments in this title. In the first panel on the first page, Hoshino declares his intentions to potential mate Negishi quite matter-of-factly, "I like you. Can we go out on a date sometime?". This of course falls on shocked ears as Negishi is unsure on how to respond. It also doesn't help that the whole class is watching them intently like the gallery at a golf match, waiting to cheer loudly if Hoshino sinks this birdie putt. Negishi of course passes on the offer, but Hoshino won't let up as he sees Negishi's rejection as one of the reasons why he likes her so much--her honesty. Finally, a persistent yet endearing Hoshino is able to wear Negishi down and they come to terms with a walk home after school. This marks the beginning of their relationship.

The rest of the chapters play out like stages in a budding relationship. First boy asks girl, who rejects boy. Then girl changes mind and asks boy. Boy makes girl angry, so boy buys gift. Their first kiss, first fight, first feelings of jealousy, first love letter from another girl, so on and so on. Each chapter, or 'track' as Toyoda calls them, covers each of these major milestones in a new relationship. It is so very sweet to see the naiveté displayed by both Negishi and Hoshino as they try and understand what they are supposed to do in a relationship. When Hoshino talk about love, he thinks it means having Negishi make lunch for him so he can taste the love she puts in the food.

Their interactions and thought processes also highlights the differences between boys and girls, especially at that age. Hoshino asks Negishi for a kiss no matter the place or time, just wanting to get to that first base for some unexplainable reason. Whereas Negishi has dreams about how wonderful and romantic her first kiss will be, so natural and so very beautiful. When it finally happens, it surprises both of them and ends up being quite the humorous event. All of these 'tracks' build up to a major milestone at the end of the volume--boy meets girl's parents. Hoshino's deadpan and serious nature shines here as he comes right out and is honest with his intentions, even telling Negishi's father that they have kissed. The reactions of the father, including making Hoshino have a drink, are quite fitting for a father of a young girl and are also extremely charming. The chapter has quite a few laughs as I could not help myself from yelling out, "You're not supposed to do that!", on numerous occasions.

And it is not just Hoshino and Negishi that steal the show here, although they are the major focus and shine quite brightly. The two lovers’ friends are also quite memorable and funny in their own way. Yoko, Negishi’s friend, constantly eggs them on and snickers devilishly behind the scenes watching these two innocent love birds stumble over each other and embarrass themselves. Even if the secondary characters have small parts, they interact with the story in way that is usually humorous and memorable.

Minoru Toyoda's Love Roma might just be the most awkward yet undeniably charming romantic comedy manga that I have ever read, avoiding all the conventions and clichés of the genre that usually aren’t my cup of tea. No trite harems. No wooing bishounen. No melodramatic angst. No emotionally frustrated teens. No pandering fanservice. This seinen "love comedy" sticks with the basics and delivers a very sweet and ultimately realistic portrayal of middle school relationships, featuring two of the sweetest and most honest characters in all of manga. How could you NOT root for Hoshino and Negishi to get together!?!

Minoru Toyoda just keeps the story simple, along with his artwork that perfectly matches his rhythmic pacing. There are so many wonderfully delivered lines in deadpan style that just had me laughing constantly, and still laughing even more after the third pass through the book. Del Rey also continues to impress me with their product, providing a great looking packaging and a solid translation with cultural notes. This is a definite gem.


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