Tuesday, April 7, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Io Sakisaka
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Nancy Thislethwaite
LETTERS: Sara Linsley
EDITOR: Nancy Thislethwaite
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1309-7; paperback (March 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 US, $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Love Me, Love Me Not is a shōjo manga written and illustrated by Io Sakisaka, the creator of such manga as Strobe Edge and Ao Haru Ride.  Love Me, Love Me Not was serialized in the Japanese manga magazine, Bessatsu Margaret, from 2015 to 2019.  VIZ Media is publishing an English-language edition of Love Me, Love Me Not as a series of graphic novels.

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) opens the spring before Yuna Ichihara enters her first year of high school.  She is pained that her best friend, Satchan, is moving away.  On her way to the train station to say good-bye to her, Yuna meets a strange girl about her age, and the girl asks Yuna for money.  The girl, Akari Yamamoto, promises to pay Yuna the following day, which she does.  When they leave the train station, however, they discover that they live in the same apartment building.

The girls instantly become friends, but discover that they explore and look at love in completely different ways.  Yuna is an idealist, and Akari is a realist.  Throw in Yuna's childhood friend, Kazuomi Inui, and Akari's brother, Rio, and this becomes a complicated case of love and friendship.

The Love Me, Love Me Not manga is like creator Io Sakisaka's other manga.  Sakisaka's shojo romances are sweet confections... on the surface, but bite enough times and you, dear readers, will find a pungent or tart side.

Love Me, Love Me Not Graphic Novel Volume 1 offers so much of Sakisaka's lovely, ethereal art.  It looks like a film shot through greased lens.  The heart of the story is a bit more solid.  Yuna and Akari are teen girls in a state of growth and change, and as they navigate their first year of high schools, their thoughts and feelings don't fit simple descriptions like “idealist” (Yuna) and “realist” (Akari).  The “tart” or edgy elements arrive at the end of this first volume.

JN Productions (translation) and Nancy Thislethwaite (English adaptation) do excellent work capturing the nuances of this story.  While reading Vol. 1, readers will find that Yuna, Akari, Inui, and Rio are four distinct personalities, and, as these characters are endearing, they will want to meet again.  Also, Sara Linsley strikes the perfect tone with her lettering... especially for that killer ending.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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