What I Recently Read — "Futari no Renai Shoka" Volume 1 by YamazakiKore
Title: Futari no Renai Shoka (ふたりの恋愛書架） (“Their Love Bookshelf”)
Mangaka: Yamazaki Kore (ヤマザキコレ）
Publisher/ Publication: Houbunsha / Manga Time Kirara Forward
Purchase: Amazon JP / YesAsia
Kanako is a free spirited lonely women who lives in and runs a used bookstore, and Akio is a lonely young man who loves books. The two meet at a swap meet and have an instant rapport. They meet again at Kanoko’s bookstore, where Kanako impulsively proposes to Akio, only to find out, despite looking like an adult, he’s at the end of his third year in junior high. The story continues when Akio enters high school and mainly focuses on the couple’s getting their friends to accept their relationship and their eventual decision to live together. Yes, this is an age gap romance, but it is very sweet and there is no sexual content.
This volume includes chapters 1 – 5 and two bonus stories. The series is two volumes in length.
Artwork B+: It’s simple and functional with nice use of screentones giving it a slightly shoujo feel. However, the artwork is nothing special. It doesn’t really stand out, but I suppose that’s good because flashy artwork would overwhelm this delicate story.
Presentation C-: This book is small, which means the text is small. I have bad eyesight, so the size of the text was a burden on me. There were many times when I had to take a picture with my tablet to magnify the page so I could read it. I bought a magnifying glass to ease reading the second volume. The text size problem is even worse with the mangaka’s handwritten chicken scratch. Some of it I simply could not read despite magnification because there was not enough print resolution. Other wise the dust cover is nice and there is a color page at the beginning.
Story A-: This is a small story about a couple. I like the way the focus is on Kanako and Akio, and so far, there is no love triangle to weigh the series down. There are only a handful of side characters, and they serve mostly as sounding boards for Akio as he muddles through his feelings for Kanako and weighs whether he should move in with her. Kanako, despite being free spirited, is not annoying. There are times when her pain and loneliness come through. Akio is a “herbivore” but we are not led to dislike or pity him a negative way. I sympathized with both characters and I felt that they are a good match. The magic of this story is that the age difference drops away until the reader is gently reminded of it.
I like the way the story lets Akio and Kanako’s romance proceed without sex. Rather, they have small intimate moments that build companionship. It’s a very cozy romance, and I love being wrapped up in it.
I did not like Nanao, Kanako’s former Professor who shows up in the fifth chapter. This character is a gag androgynous character who, of course, is way too familiar and touchy-feely. It’s a tired stereotype.
More details about the story are in my Twitter feed.
Readability — difficult: This manga series does not have furigana. There were a lot of new words for me to learn and there were slang phrases I wasn’t familiar with. I used my kanji dictionary app a lot during the fifth chapter when Kanako’s ex-Professor shows up. I also wasn’t familar with many of the books referenced in the conversations. I don’t know how much meaning was lost, but I’m satisfied with what I did understand. The size of the text is an issue especially if you are not fluent. I imagine fluent readers can infer the kanji, but for non-fluent readers, making out the radicals is an exercise in patience. If you are comfortable reading without furigana, this is an excellent book to read. I felt it was well worth the time I spent looking up new words.
Overall B+: This is a wonderful slice-of-life age-gap romance. The small text is a big detractor for me, but sweetness of the story more than makes up for it.