Love*Com 17 by Aya Nakahara: B

After the main Love*Com story finished, mangaka Aya Nakahara published a few additional bonus stories, which are collected in the series’ seventeenth and final volume. Three stories depict Ôtani and Risa during their junior high years and one revisits the gang four months after graduation. One of the major flaws of Love*Com in its later volumes was that, in a transparent effort to milk the series for all it was worth, the focus drifted too much from the leads to the uninspiring supporting cast. Here, at least, each story features one or both of the protagonists in the starring role(s).

Despite its hokey setup—practically every semi-significant character from the series coincidentally converges on the same beach on the same day—the post-graduation story is not only the best of the four, but also provides the best Risa/Ôtani scene in quite some time. It deals with Risa’s feelings of being left behind by her undergraduate friends, who are off having new experiences with people she doesn’t know while she contends with the challenges of fashion stylist school, which is not going as well as she had hoped. Somehow, this series works best when Risa is miserable, and when Ôtani steps up to the plate to cheer her up and listen to her troubles, it provides a better and more personal farewell for the series than the full-cast send-off volume sixteen offered.

It’s been a long time since I paused to admire and reread a particularly sweet moment between these two characters, and I can’t help feeling grateful that I was able to experience it one more time before the end. Maybe, just a little, Love*Com has redeemed itself.

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

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