Yuna, whose best friend has just moved out of town, leaving her in crisis, is timid, sensitive and credulous, and terribly embarrassed that her first love was Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty. Akari, who has just moved to her block, is adventurous, messy and loud, quick to fall in love but also headstrong and rational, so she does not hesitate to put an end to things when she believes it better to do so. She has had a few boyfriends, and has a reputation of not being very serious with them. They are an unlikely duo, but after a random encounter, Yuna Ichihara and Akari Yamamoto become friends. Things will become complicated when each of them falls in love with someone of her friend´s circle, which manifests in very different ways.
After reading volume 1, I can say that the heart of Io Sakisaka´s Love me, Love Me Not (Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare) there is an interesting clash between two rival conceptions of romantic love, both credible if somewhat taking to the extreme: an idealistic, chosen-by-destiny, pure, secret and devoted one (Yuna’s), and a more practical, down-to-earth, pool-of-candidates, active and in control (to the point of “I can fall in love if I put my head into it hard enough”) one (Akari’s). Sakiasaka explains that she does not want to set one of them as right and the other as wrong in her tale, which is fair enough, and develops this theme against a nice backdrop of well-captured daily high school life, which felt somewhat realistic and interesting. The story takes a dramatic (perhaps too dramatic?) turn near the end of the first volume, and I wonder where will we go from here. Will the story retain focus, or will it lose it?
Well, this was fun. I´ll admit I rolled my eyes sometimes (mostly at Rio), but on the whole, I found volume one interesting. As for the love story itself, I could not help but be more invested in the story of Akari than in that of Yuna. After a bit of thought, I think that both views of love are somewhat complementary: One should feel that every human connection, especially romantic connection, is an undeserved gift. I think that while not every marriage is prudent (I may be looking to a certain secondary character here), every marriage is blessed, a prophetic reality with the necessary gifts of God disposed ahead to help husband and wife grow towards Heaven by loving each other, that specific person. That they will be able to be complementary, to complete us and bring us further.–
This does not mean that they will, in fact, do that, or that their life in common will be happy. But it means there is a path, the hope of a pure bridge. In that sense, it is not wrong to think and feel about romantic love with the categories of destiny, as Yuna does: As a calling, a vocation.
Yet, this feeling can, and often does, obscure the reality that we are free, that even if being in love is not always a choice, loving is. And that being true and loyal in romantic love requires an effort to be prudent, combat self-deception, assess the circumstances with realism, fight oneself when needed, discern and take an active role in aiding or redirecting our feelings. One should seek intimacy and foster his feelings for a person who helps him and that he thinks he could help, if he is able (Akari´s view is a bit extreme, as a character points, because it is not like you could create attraction from nothingness. Of course, if there is a spark there, that may be a different story…)
On the other hand, I believe that one should redirect to friendship romantic feelings which are unhelpful for some reason, and a relationship other than marriage should be terminated when one discerns that it is the best for oneself and the other. I think we may be able to see some of this here, too, in some detail. And I believe both things are usually possible. So what can I say, I´m especially moved by Akari´s fights, discoveries and efforts, and hopeful about the direction this is taking, while if Yuna was my sister (and were this not a shoujo manga), I would be seriously worried about her by now.
I was told once that marriage is the art of falling in love with the same woman many times in the course of your life. Of course, for this to be possible in this crazy world, help from God is necessary, and thus, it is Providence, the only true Destiny, but I think that active, free cooperation is required, too. May our protagonists achieve this in future volumes: For one, I will be watching them.
You can read Love me, Love Me Not on Viz.