Title: Kinkyori Lovers
Author: YAMADA Komomo
Flower Comics, 2009
Heh, right after I talk about a series called “Kinkyori Renai,” I follow it up with a series bearing a similar title, “Kinkyori Lovers.” “Kinkyori” means “a short distance” so this manga, as with the previous one, is a series about romance found with someone very close to you. I picked this up because I have liked some of this author’s previous works. She does some cute teacher-student series. Also, this cover looked like it may promise some smutty fun, and hey, I shamelessly like my shoujo manga smut, so here we are. This is a one-shot volume, with most of the book taken up by a few chapters featuring our main couple from the cover. There is a short unrelated story at the end that is rather supernatural and spooky in comparison. It is an interesting choice of story to pair up with the main one. The main story does get a bit smutty (it ran in a Cheese! magazine), and I admit I was amused by some of the events surrounding the smut. The art is cute, if fairly average. Not hideous, not gorgeous. I think the guy gets cuter as the story progresses, but there are a few scenes where he looks kind of funny. I think I prefer her art in other volumes more than this. However, the story is simple, focused, and lightly amusing.
This is another one of those “childhood friends become something more” types of stories. Our heroine is a girl named Shouko. For as long as she can remember, she has been friends with a neighboring boy, Yuuta. Their mothers introduced them as infants. They grew up doing everything together and, as many kindergarten kids in Japan seem to do, they even vowed to someday get married. Tiny Yuuta and Shouko are really cute, with Shouko promising to be his bride.
But naturally, past promises are left behind, and now that they are in high school they are still close friends, but not romantic. Of course, most of their school can’t really figure out their relationship. Are they dating or not? Are they just childhood friends? It can be hard to tell, because they are always together. It is also plain to see that Yuuta really likes Shouko. He seems oblivious to his popularity with the rest of the female student body at his school, and instead he is always focused on Shouko. He treats her with obvious preference, and they still do everything together. But does he really love her in a romantic way?
When Shouko overhears another girl confessing to Yuuta, she gets upset and confused. Well, he IS popular, what if he gets a girlfriend? Will she be that awkward 3rd wheel in their relationship? Should she stop being friends with him if he does start dating anyone? She starts to dream that is is she who is dating Yuuta. Would it be too weird?
Much to Shouko’s amazement, Yuuta is quick to confess to her, and they actually start dating! Could this be real? Things are a bit awkward between them. Before, they were casual, but now Shouko feels very aware around Yuuta. What will she do when he kisses her? And what about when he tries to do more?
As for Yuuta, things aren’t so simple, either. He may be popular with all the girls at school, but he really doesn’t have much experience. He is nervous around Shouko, and he doesn’t want to ruin it. He manages to do some stupid things with good intentions.
This series stays very focused on our main couple. There are a few of the usual love obstacles, but even then, they aren’t too distracting. The plot is simple, and reasonably predictable, but there are a few moments that surprised me and made me chuckle. This is just the simple story of two teens trying to adjust to the change in their relationship.
In between the chapters and in the sidebars there are some adorable mini-comics that chronicle Yuuta and Shouko’s relationship from when they were kids. Yuuta, it seems, has always had a thing for Shouko. Right from the moment he first saw her when they were both just infants! Their mothers are even amused when toddler Yuuta kisses toddler Shouko. So I suppose it is natural for them to eventually progress to something more serious…
As the end of this volume is a creepy short story about a funny-looking girl who meets a very pretty little girl who looks a lot like a gothic lolita type of doll The girl brings her to a doll shop, where the girl ends up getting a makeover. She is now as pretty as a doll herself, but will that really bring her happiness?