Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1

By Io Sakisaka. Released in Japan as “Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by JN Productions. Adapted by Nancy Thistlethwaite.

I was, at first, rather surprised to see this new volume of Io Sakisaka’s coming out, given that we still have a few volumes of Ao Haru Ride still in the queue. But after reading it, I’m glad we’re seeing it now, as this is a good one. The cover features two heroines, with the love interests relegated to the back cover, and the first volume makes it clear that, while this is all about love and romance, as usual for this author, the girls are co-protagonists and will carry most of the action. As for the premise, it’s not only about the growing friendship of these two girls, who immediately get on like a house on fire, but their tw3o opposing views of love, neither of which is looked down on. Yuna is looking for her Prince Charming, a “love at first sight” sort, while Akari thinks you can get to know a guy and then fall in love based on your everyday interaction. As we’ll see, both are right – and wrong.

Yuna, the light-haired girl on the cover, is the one who is looking for her Prince. Unfortunately, she’s also painfully shy around guys, with the exception of her childhood friend Inui. One day she is saying goodbye to her best friend, who is moving away, when she is accosted by another girl who forgot her wallet and desperately needs money for the subway so SHE can say goodby3e to HER moving friend. This is Akari, the dark-haired girl, who is currently in a relationshi0p, though that doesn’t last the book. The two find they live near each other, and quickly bond discussing the concept of love, and compare their own views. Akari wants to ship Yuna and her childhood friend Inui together. Yuna, though, falls instantly for Akari’s brother, Rio. It’s… well, a recipe for fun shoujo manga.

I enjoyed almost all of this, so let’s quickly get to the bit that made me groan. Given that the concept of this manga reads very much like “love square”, the moment Akari and Rio were shown to be related my brain went “nope, gotta be a remarriage or adoption”, and sure enough. I would be really happy to not see “we’re not really siblings” in a manga ever again, to be honest, and Akari’s loud arguing that it’s not like that to her mother does not help my thought that it is going to be like that down the road. Fortunately, the rest of the book is excellent. Yuna and Rio really do have that ‘instant love’ bond, and also some really heartwarming scenes as we learn about Rio’s “playboy” ways. And Akari may be trying to ship Yuna with Inui, but the audience is, I suspect, thinking that Akari/Inui is the preferred pairing here.

This is about a dozen volumes, which is typical for successful series by this writer. It’s also getting a live-action film this summer. For those who love romance manga and strong friendships, this is a winner.