The school romance is a staple whether you are talking about shonen or shojo but when speaking of modern girls manga alone, there is an overwhelming amount of it. It is easy to say that you’ve seen it all before, that nothing can surprise you, or that they are just plain silly and unrelatable and for the most part, even as someone who reads a lot of them, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. They are fluff but every once and a while you come across one that makes the familiar feel so very special. Maybe Lovely Complex isn’t the most original school romance you’ll ever see, but it is a pillar on how to do it justice.
Lovely Complex is a romantic comedy that keeps the drama at bay, or for the most part modestly contained, allowing it to strike a cord in the realm of reality. At least when it comes to who Risa and Otani are and what their relationship is built upon anyway. Beyond the fact that I honestly think most relationships are 70% comedy, Love*Com allows Risa and Otani’s relationship to grow in a way that seems so obvious, yet is not often used.
Risa and Otani like the same things. Just think about that for a minute. It seems so natural but how often is that central to romantic fiction? These two listen to the same music, enjoy the same activities, and empathize with each other. We actually get to see them become friends before falling in love. It is amazing how often the ruse of being friends is thrown into romance without the characters having anything that resembles a friendship. The idea of sharing a common interests besides euphoric feelings has a magic all its own.
I am in no way implying that an emotional bond between two people is not the center of a relationship. Hobbies are a great jumping off point and they don’t take the place of values or goals, however their place in a relationship should not be discounted either. In fact, Risa and Otani themselves try to deny how much pleasure those simple similarities give them at first.
And maybe that is too simple for some; no traumatic pasts, no dark secrets, no dramatic separation. Lovely Complex is sincerely about falling in love, awkwardly at best, with characters that bond over common interests. But making it so obvious is what allows Risa and Otani’s relationship to be that much more refined.