Just because I haven’t mentioned it lately, and in case there was any doubt, I still love Love Roma (Del Rey).
You would think that, after four volumes, the series would start to suffer from diminishing returns. I mean, every story boils down to essentially the same bones: Hoshino and Negishi successfully strive to understand each other a little better. “Conflict” seems like too strong a word to describe the stumbling blocks they encounter, because Minoru Toyoda has established such an endearing rapport between them that it’s impossible to imagine anything seriously threatening it.
But I’m still crazy about the series. Romantic manga are so often about the build-up to a relationship that it’s very refreshing to see an existing relationship progress. The protagonists are perfectly mismatched, which is hardly a new invention, but watching them adjust to their differences while respecting the other’s point of view is… well… it’s sweet. There. I said it.
It’s also incredibly charming, and I think charm is one of the harder qualities to pull off. It’s easy to go too far, and when I get the sense that a creator is intentionally trying to trigger warm fuzzies, I recoil. Maybe it’s the apparent effortlessness of Love Roma – the low-fi art, the small doses of narrative, the fluid cast of oddballs – that helps the charm carry over without conveying any sense of manipulation. It’s sweetness delivered bluntly, not over-packaged or sentimentalized.