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Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love

GN 2

Synopsis:
Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love GN 2

Now officially dating Yagyu, Satomi's giddy but still not quite sure how things ended up this way – or what to do now! Things like beach and zoo dates get derailed by unwelcome additions to the group, but Satomi's slowly learning that there's one thing she doesn't have to worry about: Yagyu's feelings.

Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love is translated by Jan Cash with editing by Nancy Thistlethwaite and lettering by Inori Fukuda Trant.

Review:

In a decided improvement from volume one, this second book in the shoujo romance series Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love features our hero and heroine slowly growing closer. This naturally means three of the major romance manga staples: the beach date, the zoo date, and the overnight stay. While none of these go quite as expected, Yagyu is charmingly respectful of Satomi - when he invites her to spend the night, he's clear that he just wants to spend more time with her and isn't trying to push her into anything she's not ready for. He also works hard to assuage her fears when his old girlfriend Komani shows up at the beach. This plotline could have gone some very stale places with rapidity, but instead Yagyu quietly rebuffs all of Komani's efforts to reconnect with him in a too-friendly way; when she complains that he won't give her his contact info and didn't visit her at the beachfront restaurant she's working at, he calmly tells her that he won't do that because he has a girlfriend. While this could be interpreted as him being far too paranoid – just because he has Satomi doesn't mean that he can't have female friends – it's also clear that Komani's not just trying to be friendly, and Yagyu's perceptive enough to realize that and to make it plain that he's in a committed relationship. That's a nice change from the oblivious male lead or the one who feels it's more important to be friendly than to respect his girlfriend.

It also makes him an excellent counterbalance to this volume's true villain, his too-clingy younger sister Juri. Juri is the sort of unhinged little sister who can ruin a book in a blink, so to see Yagyu just take her mania in stride and calmly tell her off when she goes too far makes her much less of an irritating character. Juri, despite her appearance, is very immature, and she's convinced that Satomi is going to “steal” her brother away from her, so she acts out in an attempt to drive Satomi away. It's not entirely clear if she's being worse than normal for Satomi's benefit or if she's used to acting like her brother's girlfriend rather than his sister, but either way she's annoying as all get-out, even if we can see that she very well may be feeling neglected now that he's spending more time with Satomi. Fortunately, Yagyu's mature handling of the situation lets us see her for the brat she is rather than framing her as an actual threat, which goes a long way towards making the trope work in a relatively realistic fashion. Add in that her attempts to scare Satomi off are really childish and Juri becomes an understandable character rather than a walking fetish.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of Tenma, Yagyu's friend. He and Nomi tag along on the beach date, and his overtly sexist comments are an issue. While they're clearly meant to contrast him with Yagyu, it's still not fun to read him say things like, “Girls must have it nice. People get so worked up just cuz they're wearing a swimsuit,” and “women are great so long they're quiet.” He accents these statements with an announcement that he'll be sitting on the towel under the beach umbrella so that he can ogle women in their swimwear. While this does show him to be a very different person than Yagyu, it's not great that he's not called out for his behavior, and his interactions with Nomi are framed to look more like the prelude to them getting together than her actually being mad at him. Not every character needs to be likeable, but Tenma pushes things a bit too far, especially since he's allowed to get away with it.

Happily, he's only in the beach chapter. The rest of the volume is taken up with the zoo date (and Juri's machinations on it) and Satomi spending the night at Yagyu's house. None of it is particularly innovative in its genre (although it does have one of the greatest cooking panels I've seen in a while; suffice it to say that Yagyu has clearly not cracked many eggs...at least the way he's supposed to), but it is generally sweet. Hatta's art remains clean and clear, and it must be acknowledged that she draws some very cute otters. The translation is thankfully devoid of the sort of dated slang that sometimes creeps into these contemporarily-set school romances (not a “totes adorbs” to be seen!), and overall it's a good-looking volume.

Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love is still kind of bland, but now it's pleasantly bland, following the tropes of its genre while making some nice adjustments to the more irritating tropes. There's something to be said for that, and it's actually kind of nice, every now and then, isn't it?

Grade:
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B+

+ Yagyu is respectful, story uses a lot of tropes but adjusts them to make it work.
Still very by-the-numbers and bland.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Ayuko Hatta

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Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love (manga)

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