In 2011, I reviewed a book called Renai Manga, by Kodama Naoko, that had been published by Tsubomi Comics. I gave it “a warm fuzzy, comfortable 8” as a score.
Now, Yuri Hime Comics has re-released Renai Manga (レンアイマンガ). And it is the same, all the way to the very end, where a new chapter is new, but not any different.
Haruka is a new editor at Sweets Magazine, where she is assigned to manage her favorite author – the one who inspired her to become an editor in the first place. Only, Kuroi-sensei is not the fashionable woman she imagined, but a hoody-wearing recluse. Haruka pulls Kuroi-sensei out of her shell just a bit and Kuroi-sensei gives Haruka the courage to stick to her guns and stay in Tokyo as an editor when her mother pressures her to marry.
The end of the book ends up eating it’s own tail as it turns out that Haruka’s fan letter to Kuroi-sensei was her first, ever, and a charm she’s kept all these years to keep her going.
Now, since I knew exactly what to expect from this manga, I was able to pay attention a little more to small details; how Haruka is manipulated by the editor-in-chief, who obviously knows both parts of the story, how Kuroi-sensei finds herself after a long slump because of Haruka. I was also able to enjoy the now almost-silly climax scene as Haruka runs around town looking for screentone. In a mere few years that has become significantly less of crisis, as so much more of manga is done digitally, it’s almost hard to imagine that this might have been a thing.
The original manga ends with Kuroi-sensei being honored at a party for the new TV Drama of her series. A new chapter turns away from the tale of professional persistence to – for the first time, really – the couple of Haruka and Sensei, who I now think deserves to be referred to by her given name, Ritsu. Haruka and Ritsu are, clearly, already important to each other, but Ritsu takes a big step and asks Haruka to move in with her so they can be together all the time. Haruka agrees happily. In the final panels, we see the editor-in-chief being not at all surprised and thinking that the two of them ought to get married already. (Ironically, since, as we know, they still can not legally marry anywhere in Japan except Shibuya.)
My expectations were low, but not because I expected this to be bad, but I expected nothing significant to have changed. And so it hasn’t. This manga remains a warm, fuzzy slipper of a story – nothing surprising, nothing alarming. Just a nice story told nicely.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 2 Kuroi-sensei still needs a better bra
Overall – Still an 8