Monday, February 08, 2010

Manga Monday: Crown of Love

Crown of Love (Volume 1)
Yun Kouga

Retelling her manga series from ten years earlier, Loveless creator Yun Kouga flushes out her story Crown of Love, about the relationship between an established idol, and one rising.  Hisayoshi Tajima is a charming guy, idolized by the women in his class, but very arrogant.  He knows he's good-looking and doesn't reciprocate any interest in his classmates.  The only one good enough for him is idol Rima Fujio, whom he happens to bump into on a train.  From that moment on, this ace student drops everything in his pursuit to know everything about this beautiful girl, from attending video tapings to becoming an active member of her fan club.  Luckily for him, her former talent manager wants him to be an idol as well, and offers him stardom as a way to get close to Rima, who does not reciprocate his affection.  There are definitely some interesting things happening in this manga, particularly when it comes to Hisayoshi's relationships with those around him.  He's smug in his knowledge that he can have any girl in his class, yet he insists on having the unattatainable pop idol, and he's suddenly in the role of the classmates he snubs.  He also realizes early on that his fawning over Rima is much like his mother's pathetic cowering love for her abusive husband, although he can't help but continue his unhealthy quest nonetheless.  There's plenty of irony in the circumstances, but it makes things interesting.  Hisayoshi is a pretty loathsome character overall, but he does odd things (like befriending a little kid who's also a fan of Rima) that makes you kind of like him anyhow.  Plus, his abusive home life earns him a little sympathy, even if it's hard to root for his unwanted advances toward Rima.  Rima, likewise, has issues.  She pines over her former manager, professing her love for him, despite his marriage and children.  The story bounces between the two of them, flushing out the thoughts of each to such a degree that little mystery remains, and also bounces through time in confusing shifts.  Even worse than the disorientation left by this clunky storytelling is how the events unfold.  Equal weight is put on everything as the book progresses, so that huge moments like Hisayoshi and Rima meeting properly for the first time has no more significance than his crossing the street.  Kouga pays little attention to building tension or focusing the story, and coupled with unidentifiable protagonists (and in spite of a few interesting ideas), this manga is left a confused mess.

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