Love*Com 11 by Aya Nakahara: B-

After briefly breaking up in the previous volume, things are going okay for series protagonists Risa Koizumi and Atsushi Ôtani. It’s up to the supporting cast, therefore, to deliver the angst. Risa’s best friend, Nobu, fulfills her obligation by suddenly deciding to attend college in Hokkaido so that she can be with the ailing, much-beloved grandmother whom she’s never previously mentioned.

Well, I guess every series can have a dud now and then. I would’ve been far more interested in Nobu’s decision if she had ever actually talked about her grandmother, if any seeds at all had been planted in advance of this suddenly sprouting plotline. As it is, it feels completely random, like saying, “Oh yes, I have this best friend who I’ve never ever mentioned but I am suddenly very devastated that they have died.” Also, Nobu and her boyfriend Nakao are simply not very thoroughly developed characters in their own right, existing primarily to advise, chastise, or encourage Risa and Ôtani as situations warrant.

The art also looks a lot different to me in this volume. At first, I thought maybe the reason Nobu looks almost like a different person is because we usually see her in background and not close-up. But then I noticed that Ôtani looks rather different, too. I compared the art to volume ten and it was obviously evolving back then, too, but it wasn’t as noticeable. The new style might actually be more polished, but it’s also more generic-looking.

The final chapter is an improvement on its predecessors. For the past few volumes, Ôtani has been studying furiously for his college entrance exams. Risa went through a range of reactions to his efforts, from attempting to dissuade him from a futile endeavor to resolving to stay out of his way until his exams are over. When a family flu outbreak, snow, and cancelled trains threaten to keep Ôtani from making it to the testing facility on time, it’s Risa’s determination that gets him there in the end, which is nice to see. They may bicker far too often for my liking, but when they really come through for each other, it’s very satisfying.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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