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by Rebecca Silverman,

My Love Mix-Up!

GN 4

My Love Mix-Up! GN 4

Aoki and Ida are officially dating, but Aoki's still got a lot of hang-ups about it, to the point where he doesn't want Ida to even tell his volleyball club friends about them. Their differences of opinion about how public their relationship should be spell trouble for the boys, but it's telling someone else about them that helps Ida to see why Aoki's so anxious. Meanwhile Akkun and Hashimoto are struggling to form any kind of lasting relationship, with Akkun very much playing the role of his own worst enemy. True love's course may never have run smooth, but does it need to be quite this rough?

My Love Mix-Up! is translated and adapted by Jan Cash and lettered by Inori Fukuda Trant.


People do stupid things when they're uncomfortable.

If there's a theme to this volume of My Love Mix-Up!, that would be it: feeling awkward and on-the-spot can push people into doing some truly ill-advised things. While we've seen that consistently throughout the series (arguably, it's what got Ida and Aoki together in the first place), Ida and Akkun are now at the forefront of these behaviors as they struggle to figure out the people they're at least trying to be closest to. This is certainly to the distress of Hashimoto and Aoki, and while Ida and Akkun's actions don't quite come off as markers of (im)maturity, they definitely pave the way for some monumental misunderstandings.

Some of those are more nonsensical than others, of course. Should Akkun 100% have known that "Sumo Hashi" was a terrible nickname to give a girl who's crushing on you? Yes, yes he should have. Should Ida have not told his friends that he's dating Aoki? That's much less clear-cut, and it only becomes an issue because Ida doesn't entirely understand how Aoki's anxiety functions. Basically if anxiety was fuel, Aoki could power a vessel on two loops around the globe, and that's pretty foreign to Ida's easy-going mentality. In his much more black-and-white worldview, if you're dating someone, you should tell the people around you, no matter who the person is. It doesn't really occur to him that Aoki would feel differently, and while that does say good things about a total lack of homophobia on Ida's part, it doesn't do quite so well when it comes to understanding and respecting his partner. Is that truly his fault? It's hard to say; he's a very different person than Aoki, which is part of what draws the two of them to each other.

That he's completely out of his depth in any sort of romantic scenario is also a major factor. We know from previous volumes that Ida's never had a crush on anybody, and that he's at least in part dating Aoki to figure out how he feels about him. What he hasn't considered is that he may not immediately recognize his own sentiments, nor that his perceived half-heartedness about the relationship could hurt Aoki, who truly likes him. This is where it becomes clear that while telling his volleyball pals may not have been the right move for Aoki, it almost certainly was for Ida, because one of his friends from that group knows Ida better than he knows himself—and how best to help him understand his romantic relationship. It's an interesting and important distinction in the volume, because being a couple doesn't mean agreeing on every single thing. It means finding ways to work out differences of opinion and meeting all parties' needs in a healthy way. Aoki needs to understand when his anxiety isn't helping, and Ida needs to learn to better express and understand himself, and this volume makes real progress in these areas.

It's hard to say if things are running as smoothly for the potential relationship between Akkun and Hashimoto. In large part this is because the very things that attract Hashimoto to Akkun are the same things getting in the way. Akkun isn't really a “look before you leap” (or in his case, a “think before you open your mouth”) kind of person, and while that can be one of his more endearing qualities, it also stands to bring Hashimoto some pain and frustration. The whole nickname debacle, where Hashimoto asks if Akkun would like to reciprocate his offer for her to address her by his nickname by using one for her, is a perfect example of this: he panics and comes up with a pretty awful one for her, which he then insists on using. Is it because he's oblivious to the fact that “Sumo Hashi” isn't exactly the cute nickname of Hashimoto's dreams? That's a real possibility, but the truth is likely something more complicated than that, a combination of having painted himself into a corner and panic at her offer to call her by her given name. When Akkun feels awkward he only gets worse, like how Aoki's anxiety runs away with him and Ida just sort of retreats into a shell of confusion. Only Hashimoto seems to handle these situations with any sort of grace, and that's not necessarily helping her in the moment.

But flawed coping mechanisms are part of what make us human, and My Love Mix-Up! does an excellent job of reminding us of that. Does that make it less frustrating at times? No, not really. But it does make the story a delightful combination of human and absurd. Everyone is mixed up about something in their potential romantic relationships, and it's in figuring out what those issues are that this series finds its middle ground between silly and sweet. With fewer gorilla faces in the art this time and a storyline that does a better job of balancing things than the previous book, this is a solid entry into a story that reminds us that not only is cupid blind, he's wandering down a very rocky road as the characters stumble their way into love.

Overall : B+
Story : A-
Art : B

+ Fewer gorilla faces in the art, good exploration of a few relationship pitfalls.
Aoki's overreactions are a bit much, all secondary characters kind of look alike.

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Production Info:
Story: Wataru Hinekure
Art: Aruko
Licensed by: Viz Media

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