Story/Art: Fuka Mizutani
Translation: Yoshito Hinton
Lettering: Lys Blakeslee
What They Say:
Amid the hormones and the angst of middle school adolescence, Kazuki and Kanata go from being boy and girl friends to boyfriend and girlfriend. But with love comes intense emotions and, with their model student reputations on the line, they must learn to suppress these earnest feelings or run the risk of getting caught red hand-in-handed!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I can’t believe how such a simple love story can warm my heart so much. I’m a sucker for love stories, but I found myself grinning silently to myself, trying to contain my internal squeeing as I flipped anxiously from page to page.
It is incredibly endearing to read Kazuki and Kanata just come off the page. It’s a wonderful journey through a point in adolescence that no one normally wants to revisit, but anime and manga do oh so well at making nostalgic. I can read them through minor trials, like accidentally touching Kanata’s breasts for a little too long, and their jealousies. It’s something every couple goes through. And it feels so real at this age that something as simple as spending time with just someone else would equate to jealousy—or an off-handed comment by a guy that speaks the first thing that comes to mind about a particularly attractive teacher.
Speaking of, the teacher angle is going a bit too far with Nagai and Hinohara. Hinohara’s teasing was cute, albeit a little uncomfortable, in the first volume. Now, it seems to have gone full on crush between teacher and student and there are moral things wrong with that, despite the fantasy that anime and manga can instill in us. The truth is that Hinohara is taking advantage of the 14 year old, true love or not. For now, it is fairly innocent and kind of cute at moments. Seeing Nagai drop is façade and help Hinohara with her hair that’s stuck was pretty damn cute, but that’s about where the line is. Hinohara can provide the kid with some guidance, to move him out of the shell he’s constructed around himself. But that’s it.
Through it all, there’s a new face and rival in love. Shiki Aoi sees Hinohara teasing Nagai and has a read on Kazuki and Kanata. While Kanata is adorably rooting on of Nagai (stop Kanata!!), Shiki gets embarrassed at it. And worse, Kazuki finds a notebook with Shiki’s errant thoughts in the hallway, including that she suspects them of dating. The turn is great though and one I hope Mizutani explores in future volumes. Her introduction brings a new dynamic that I thought Nagai might until he was stolen by an older woman.
Love at Fourteen is some of the best shojo romance I’ve read in a while, and I’ve read a lot of shojo romance. It’s basically the most adorable thing ever, rivaling (surpassing at some points, falling behind at others) Viz’s My Love Story in adorable shojo romance-yness. It’s watching these children’s growing pains in life and in love and it’s beautiful.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 24, 2015