Saturday, February 18, 2023

Love at Fourteen volume 12 - the final volume (manga review)

A teen girl and teen boy, holding hands, smiling joyously under cherry blossoms
I was tempted to not even write a post on "Love at Fourteen" volume 12 (Yen Press). I of course, was tempted to not even continue reading the series after the first few volumes. But, having relented in completing the series (because I do like the main character's story) I figured I'd might as well post a few thoughts on this final volume.
    If you're reading this post, then I'm assuming you've either read the series or my posts on the series, so I won't try and summarize things at all. So here are some random final thoughts on this volume and series:

1)  I don't mind the way it resolved the main couple's storyline at this point, although I still find it a bit unnecessarily dramatic that he is moving away (like a forced plot point). There's a sense it was done to create a partial ending for a series with a finite length, rather than having to explore what it means to grow up after starting a relationship young (whether they stay together or not).
2) I still find aspects of this series disturbing in terms of the number of adults who are interested in children and the fact that those actually mature into relationships. This is particularly painful in the encore which shows the wedding of two of the side characters. This is not proper adult behavior, to pursue a relationship with a 14 year old.

3) It's interesting that the adults who pursue relationships with children are all adult women. Part of me wonders whether this is some fantasizing by the author or whether it was done because an adult male pursuing a female fourteen year old is societally much creepier (even though the adult women pursuing young teens is just as creepy in my mind). I wonder if it was done because it might not raise as many alarms when it's an adult woman in pursuit? Don't know, but it's still creepy. Also, there was never any critical exploration of the implications of an adult and a teen in a romance. The series simply treated them as okay and that bothers me to no end.

4) There were so many interesting characters, but in the end, I still found the series sort of hollow. I would have liked several more rigorous series devoted to each of the side characters who were fairly well realized here as individuals, and yet somehow left relatively unexplored as well.

I really can't say I'd recommend this series at all. The first volume starts off so strong, and intermittently there are really powerful moments both in the main character's arc and even with some of the side stories (no matter how creepy and inappropriate they are). But in the end, it doesn't really go anywhere or reveal anything, or contribute to how I look at romance. As I said above, it's sort of a hollow series. Maybe it tried to do too much. Maybe it didn't do enough? Either way, it's not consistently strong and there are too many adult/child relationships (ie, a number well above zero) with no critical commentary on them.


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.

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