What is love, anyway?
Story/Art: Io Sakisaka
English Adaptation: Ysabet MacFarlane
Translation: JN Productions
What They Say:
What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, a handsome, enigmatic guy who all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world…
The cover is an image of a rather surprised Ninako, surrounded by a variety of colors over a plain white background. It looks fine, but isn’t terribly exciting. The back cover is an image of Daiki and Ran standing side by side next to a short summary with a similar background to the front, once again turning out a tad bland. The page thickness feels fine, text reads smoothly, honorifics are not preserved, and sound effects are translated. There isn’t much here in the way of extras, outside of a few notes from the author.
The art here is rather standard Shojo fare, but it looks good enough. The art does do a pretty great job of expressing emotion, and backgrounds appear when needed and look fairly nice. All in all, not an exceptionally pretty book, but not an ugly one either, and one that does a solid job in expressing what it wants.
Ninako Kinoshita seems to be just a normal high school girl, but in reality she’s… not the sharpest tool in the shed. Though she tries her hardest, she doesn’t really have a great grasp on the way the world works, shown at the start of the story by her being easily roped into the sales pitch of an apple salesman. Later on, when the girls in class are gossiping about the most popular boy in school, Ren Ichinose, her male friend Daiki approaches. Once more Ninako proves her ditzyness by accepting her friends’ assertions that she is in love with Daiki, becoming rather confused in the process.
On the train home from school, Ninako’s life takes a surprising turn. Waking up from a rather long nap, she realizes she is right near Ren and decides to take a picture, only for him to accidently knock down her phone and break the attached charm. He apologizes and offers to buy her a new one, forming a link between the two of them. Several interactions occur as a result, further solidifying their bond.
Things continue on, and we learn that Daiki’s sister is a fashion model who appears in magazines. After Ren helps her out several times, Ninako is finally able to realize that the feelings she has around him are love. However, she realizes that she may have acted unfairly towards Daiki and may have in fact been unintentionally leading him on, and as such decides to turn him down properly. Unfortunately, Daiki makes things tough by choosing to finally ask her out, and then telling her not to answer right away, anticipating what she will say. When Ninako starts to panic, Daiki furthermore reveals that Ren is dating his sister, and tells her that she’s the only one he’s ever loved. Ninako confirms this fact with some old-fashioned stalking, and then decides that she can’t go out with Daiki while she’s still in love with Ren. As the volume closes, a girl named Sayuri reveals to Daiki that she’s in love with him, and Ninako prepares to tell Ren how she feels.
While this volume at first appears to be a rather run of the mill love triangle story, it does at least a few things to help set itself apart. First off, Ninako makes for a rather amusing protagonist, considering how impossibly dense she is. Watching her get corrected (or “corrected”) by others throughout the volume makes for quite the amusing gag. Additionally, the way things play out here is fairly interesting, avoiding the normal setup and throwing a few curveballs along the way. Mostly, though, it’s quite nice seeing how Ninako changes over the course of the volume, coming more in touch with her feelings along the way. Hopefully further volumes will be able to flesh out the secondary cast while continuing to avoid genre tropes as much as possible, but for now, this remains a charming little book.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Package Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: November 6th, 2012