Monday, October 14, 2019

Missed it Monday - Love at Fourteen volume 2 (Manga Review)

A teen boy and girl dancing in front of a classroom window, their arms align to form a heart
Missed it Mondays is the ongoing series where I review manga and anime I didn't read/watch when they first came out. 

Love at Fourteen vol. 2 - 7/10

Like the first volume, Love at Fourteen vol. 2 (Yen Press) is light, sweet, slightly funny, cute, and a little bit insightful. In short, a worthwhile read.

The series follows Kanata Tanaka and Kazuki Yoshikawa, two fourteen year-olds in love. In volume 1 they started as childhood friends, who just sort of realized that their friendship had naturally grown into more. In volume 2, they continue to grow together, and enjoy each others company, while we also get to know some of the surrounding people in their school lives.

Shiki is a quiet girl in their class whom we meet early in Volume 2. She's writing a personal diary/novel in the third person. She's also clearly jealous of Kanata and Kazuki's relationship. However, which one she is jealous of, and why, is a nice little twist. The follow-up shows a kindness from all involved and continues the blushing timidity that is indicative of their ages.

We also get to know Nagai better. He is the "bad boy" of the class. Always sullen, and frequently acting out in anger. But there's one teacher who seems to intentionally pick on him while refusing to even acknowledge his attempts at being a punk. One day, Kanata and Kazuki overhear a lot more about them both.

It's unclear what Nagai and the teacher's relationship is exactly, but there are hints that there is some level of physical intimacy. I am not, NOT, okay with that, especially given that he is a minor and she is an adult. While it is written to be endearing, and honestly it sort of is well written, I really disapprove of the child/adult relationships in manga. Teachers are supposed to be safe trusted adults that set boundaries, not part of the child's love life. It's almost always exploitative in real life, and we shouldn't be glamorizing something abusive. (Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking, I do love the anime "Garden of Words" even though it is about a teacher/student relationship. I can't really defend it. But at least I acknowledge my hypocrisy there.)

As for our main couple. We get two stories with them at the center. One is preparing for the folk dance at the school festival. It's a perfect glimpse into the age for the whole class.

But the more meaningful story actually kicks this volume off. In it, Kazuki is forced to get too close to Kanata and unintentionally rests his forearm across her chest. He isn't able to back away quickly enough, and she gets scared by the contact. In her head, she is struggling with what it means for him to be stronger than she is now (unlike when they were children). His body has changed. What does that mean?

These are the first uncomfortable glimpses of the power of the physicality of men and its potential to be frightening or worse to women. Thankfully, Kazuki shows how dear he holds her and her feelings, and finds the perfect gesture to reassure her. A really well done and important story. I'd even like to see it discussed in classes with real kids their age in order to address power, masculinity, toxic masculinity, consent, etc... It could make for a powerful lesson for teens.

The art is simple, but that's okay for the light tone of the series. The writing is sweet without being saccharine and there are real honest moments throughout the volume. I'm really excited to keep reading this series even though it's light tone is different than the romantic dramas I usually favor.

This volume gets a 7/10. It might be more if not for the teacher/student relationship, but I couldn't penalize it too much because even that has some strong points to it (ughh, I hate that). Regardless, I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next volume.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

All comments are moderated by a real person who only checks them once a day. Therefore, comments may take a while before they show up. Thanks for understanding. It's how we keep this a community of lovingkindness.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Remember: please talk about the work, and offer counter points to others' analyses but DO NOT ATTACK THE PERSON whose analysis you are countering. (no ad hominem comments) Thanks! <3