Love, That's an Understatement GN 1

Love, That is an Understatement GN 1

Nearly as old as the romance subgenre itself is the good girl/bad boy romance cliche. Early iterations of the cliche, such those in Clarissa by Samuel Richardson from 1748, didn’t quite work out. But those times, as well as the ones of the insurrectionists, are essentially behind us now. That’s wonderful news for Love, That’s an Understatement, the second book by creator Fujimomo to be translated into English. Even though the plot isn’t particularly original, the story is fascinating, and it’s simple to care about characters like Risa and Zen as we find out more about them.

Zen likes to refer to their encounter as “fated.” At his all-boys high school, Zen is the leader of one of two rival gangs. He has been severely beaten and is currently sitting in the rain under a tree. While onlookers are aware of him, they are too afraid to offer him assistance for fear that the thugs who beat him up will come for them. Risa is the lone person who stops as she passes on her way to cram school. After patching him up with a first aid kit and an extra umbrella from her bag, she gives him the location of the closest hospital ER. It serves as additional evidence for her belief that she should always be ready. It’s a meeting with destiny for him.

The way Risa is portrayed is one of the story’s strong points. I do mean that in two meanings; I might not have recognized the visual aesthetic if I hadn’t known that this was created by the same artist as Lovesick Ellie. It’s unclear whether this is a purposeful departure for Fujimomo or merely a development in style. Second, she portrays her personality quite effectively as well. It takes some time before we begin to comprehend why she feels the need to always be carrying a large bag, and the information is revealed gradually. As a reserved individual, Risa won’t reveal her secrets to Zen merely because he asks. Even still, it’s clear that she’s uncomfortable talking to anyone; as readers, we learn more of the truth than he does. The majority of her characteristics are revealed to us through close examination of the book’s details. For instance, she is under a lot of strain because of the fact that she lives with a single mother. Zen gives Risa his Line ID, but Risa gives him her phone number, signaling that she doesn’t use social media and doesn’t have enough people she wants to message to bother with an app like Line. This is one of the best bits in the book. Although it isn’t mentioned, the information is there for us to notice. Other subtleties, like that one friend of Zen we only see in profile or from the back, are amusing, but not always on the same level; yet, reading is made extremely entertaining by seeking for these tiny nuances.

We have a clear understanding of Zen’s efforts with Risa in terms of the plot. There are the typical things like picking her up from cram school on his motorcycle or defending her from his opponents, who may be quite dangerous at times. Underneath it all, though, there is a strong desire to support her and an impression that he genuinely likes her for who she is. For instance, Zen doesn’t take Risa at her value when she makes a huge deal out of not taking up a stray cat that one of Zen’s friends spotted and comes across as heartless and perhaps even anti-kitty. He realizes that Risa is incapable of displaying concern or vulnerability in front of others. In the end, he assists her in three separate times in rescuing the unhappy little cat. Even if Zen doesn’t always behave well (surprise kissing isn’t good), he comes across as someone who cares about getting to know Risa.

With Zen’s extroverted nature and Risa’s reserved demeanor, the plot moves along very quickly. It is a pleasant read and does this while yet letting us get to know both characters and comprehend their problems. Risa seemed to desire to be able to be vulnerable with others, but something is keeping her from doing so. She is also somewhat aware of her terrible need to always appear prepared and perfect. Even while we don’t know much about Zen’s past, for the time being it doesn’t seem to be a big issue; volume two might go into more detail regarding the circumstance at his school. The first book of Love, That’s an Understatement is an excellent beginning to a fun spin on the good girl/bad boy romance subgenre. You should absolutely check it out if shoujo-style romance is your thing.

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