Thursday, December 24, 2015

L DK Vol. #1 Manga Review

There's a prince at my school -- a second year in Class B, Shusei Kugayama.

Creative Staff:
Art/Story: Ayu Watanabe
Translator: Christine Dashiell
Lettering: Sara Linsley
Editing: Ajani Oloye

What They Say:
Aoi Nishimori is a high school girl who lives alone in her own apartment, but to her surprise, she discovers that the prince of her school, Shusei Kugayama, has moved in next door! To add to this, a series of crazy happenings result in the two living together under a single roof! Shusei is known to be a heartless guy and Aoi particularly hates him after he coldly rejected her best friend, so a life of cohabitation seems like a recipe for disaster. And yet, Aoi somehow can't stop her heart from pounding when she's with Shusei...

The Review:
Content: (Please not that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
It's a story we've heard a thousand times over -- average high school girl meaninglessly falls in love with high school heartthrob who, in turn, reciprocates her love purely because she is the protagonist of a manga series. This type of story has become the staple to shoujo manga everywhere -- but that doesn't stop teenage girls (And myself...) from eating it up. When I first picked up L DK, I knew what I was getting myself into. I was ready for some huge hands, big eyes, at least one bathtub scene (Provided), and a bunch of extremely close-up panels of faces almost touching in moments of pure romantic intensity. I just expected those moments to make a little more sense.

Our story opens up with our protagonist, Aoi Nishimori, confronting the sex symbol of her high school, Shusei Kugayama, about why he rejected her friend's confession to him. His immediate response is cold and detached -- similar to the average shoujo manga "Mysterious, yet handsome" archetype that he obviously portrays right off the bat. Then, in an incredibly unpredictable and unique turn of events, Shusei winds up being Aoi's new next door neighbor. Who could have possibly imagined this scenario!? Needless to say, he brings over a customary "I'm your new neighbor and I live all by myself" gift and departs, leaving Aoi questioning exactly what he's doing renting out the apartment literally right next door to hers. So she does what anyone girl would do -- goes and talks about it to her best friend. (You know, the one that confessed to Shusei and was turned down because she is not the protagonist).

Needless to say, Aoi's best friend (Moe Shibuya) tells her that she is no longer interested in Shusei and subconsciously gives Aoi the green-light to start fantasizing about him in a totally platonic, non-sexual way. As if. Shusei shows up at her door literally the next day and actually falls on her, blaming his apparently inhuman hunger for the sudden loss of balance. So obviously the best course of action at this point in time is to invite him inside and make him dinner -- I mean, this is a totally normal scenario that happens all the time and whatnot. In another incredibly unpredictable and totally unprecedented turn of events, Shusei winds up having a childish side. THIS is when Aoi gets the second green-light and begins to fall into a deeper love with this man based purely on how attractive and hungry he is. If only he paid attention to her at school.

After literally fighting off groups of other sexually-driven girls around her age, Aoi decides that it's time to slow things down a bit. That's why she decides to allow Shusei to move into her apartment with her. Wait, what? (Yeah, the sprinkler system in his apartment went off and soaked everything and whatnot...but really? You're already living together? IN CHAPTER TWO?). I guess this is the point where the two protagonists try and keep distant from each other to avoid making the situation, even more, awkward. Wait, nope. Now they're in a bath together. I don't even know what's going on anymore.

In the third incredibly unpredictable, never-before-seen moment of Aoi's best friend showing up at the door while she and Shusei are innocently bathing together, things get even more out of hand. In fact, they get so crazy that Shusei needs to dive out of the window and run around the apartment complex naked in order to avoid making things even weirder. Eventually, Shusei decides to just handcuff himself to Aoi and allow her to drag him around everywhere because that's just how playful and considerate he is. For real though, that actually happened. And now you're thinking, "Oh, what if she has to go to the BATHROOM?" Don't worry, Shusei is totally cool with that. He straight up tells Aoi that it's cool if she just brings him in with her. Why do people even like this guy? I don't get it.

The volume ends with Shusei saying "Lol, jk, I have the key to the handcuffs right here. Lol I'm so playful," and then Aoi throws a temper-tantrum because that's just plain uncool. Oh, and now here comes a mysterious attractive woman. Wait, she knows Shusei? How is this even possible? Is she also a victim of his constant objectification of women which is totally acceptable because he is attractive? I'm not sure, to be honest. The book ends right there. She's probably either his sister or a classmate of his who is also platonically interested in "Getting to know" the prince of Aoi's high school.

In Summary:
If you're looking for a shoujo manga with an actual story and characters that seem like people who could possibly exist in real life, stay away from L DK. Go read Kimi Ni Todoke again or something. BUT, if you're looking for a simple read with minimal text and maximum attractive-dude, go ahead and pick this up. The art is bearable, there are some cheap comic moments thrown in, and I can totally see why some people would think this is good. It just..doesn't make sense. The relationships move way too fast, and honestly, I'll be surprised if Aoi and Shusei just get to it and make out next volume. L DK could be viewed as sort of a dictionary for shoujo manga tropes, where nothing happens for a reason and instead there is just a fictional movie-style romance that will never happen to any of us because we are all average and Shusei is the most handsome man on the face of the earth. I can't wait for volume 2.

Content Grade: C-
Art Grade: C-
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: C+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: October 20, 2015
MSRP: $10.99

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