By Rin Mikimoto | Published digitally by Kodansha Comics
I am an enormous fan of Kodansha’s digital offerings, so it pains me to admit that I can’t find anything to recommend about Love’s Reach.
Sixteen-year-old Yuni Kururugi, a “genius ice queen,” excels in every subject except for English, which is taught by her 24-year-old, supposed-to-be temporary homeroom teacher, Haruka Sakurai. He’s flirty and unprofessional with his students, and though Kururugi likes the way he looks, she finds everything else about him unpleasant. When he calls her to his office after school one day, he creepily backs her against a wall and says, “Have you been getting answers wrong on purpose? Maybe you’re really just trying to get my attention.” The briefly gratifying fact that Kururugi smacks him and says, “Let me be perfectly clear. I hate you” is undercut by her reflections upon how cute he looks in that moment. Sakurai ends up requiring Kururugi to attend daily tutoring sessions and, inevitably, they fall in love.
This is one of those cases where, even setting aside the problematic student-teacher relationship aspect, I just don’t see why these characters like each other. Sakurai flip-flops between manipulative mind games and minimal acts of kindness (oh boy, he left her some patches for her sore ankle!), and allows other teenage girls to hang all over him. What’s to like about that jerk? For her part, although we are told several times that Kururugi is a genius, she sure doesn’t act like one. Some of her behavior might be excused as romantic inexperience, but not the fact that after insisting on a date with Sakurai, it never occurs to her that someone might see them out together until someone does. Eyeroll.
None of the relationship drama is interesting and by the halfway point, I was thinking, “When can this be over?” and that was before the predatory lesbian teacher showed up to blackmail the happy couple! Too, the art style is really weird. The space between a character’s eyebrows and the top of their head occupies as much space as their entire face!
So, to sum up. Weird art. Unlikeable characters. Inexplicable and icky romance. I won’t be continuing this series.
Love’s Reach is complete in ten volumes. One volume is available in English now and the second comes out next week.
Review copy provided by the publisher.