Out this month from Vertical is the opening volume of Medaka Kuroiwa Is Impervious to My Charms – a new manga rom-com. Mona is the cutest girl in school, and she knows it. In fact, she’s worked hard to make her high school debut successful. Yet no matter what she does, she can’t seem to catch the eye of stone-cold stoic Medaka Kuroiwa—but she’s not about to give up that easily. Medaka, on the other hand, has been raised at a temple and was told to never get close to women. Who will win in this heated battle of wills?
Rom-coms have always been popular amongst manga readers, but the genre seems to have been going through somewhat of a renaissance recently with a string of popular titles from various publishers. Medaka Kuroiwa Is Impervious to My Charms continues to add to that trend. But whilst having a familiar premise, it has a bite to it which makes it more memorable than you’d expect.
Mona is the classic popular pretty girl. Whilst a nice and pleasant person, she is accustomed to being the most popular person at school. So when Medaka expresses zero desire to have anything to do with her, she cannot comprehend how this is possible. The main appeal of the series is the lengths Mona goes to in order to win Medaka over and ceator Ran Kuze excels in these moments. Whilst it is mostly played for laughs, we do get some pathos from Mona realising that she shouldn’t treat such things as a game and that she is not guaranteed to always get the results she desires.
There are plenty of other engaging characters that also help carry the series. Medaka himself is a fun foil to Mona and we get a look at his family background along with his desire to become a priest. Kuze does a great job of depicting his inner conflict with him feeling touched that Mona wants to be his girlfriend versus his calling to be a priest which he wards off with prayers and whacky faces. Classmate Haruno who initially has a crush on Mona also provides plenty of laughs as she becomes a big supporter of Mona and Medaka becoming a couple.
Kuze’s art is consistently strong and wells suited for this type of series. She is particularly adept at expressions with the highly expressive and bubbly Mona playing off brilliantly against the stoic Medaka. Their early interactions with Mona resorting to pretending to be a cat in an attempt to get his attention is a definite highlight.
This is a fun new series that stands strong with recent manga rom-com hits. Ran Kuze is certainly a talent manga readers should be watching.
Medaka Kuroiwa Is Impervious to My Charms 1 is out now from Vertical (9781647292324, p/b, £12.99)
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