The World’s Greatest First Love Volume 1 by Shungiku Nakamura

The World’s Greatest First Love Volume 1 bucks a lot of trends in this subgenre. For one, it doesn’t have a weak or effeminate lead character. For another, most of it isn’t about the relationship at all, it’s about how manga are published. The art is solid (as expected from the author of Junjou Romantica). But at its heart is a battle of wills over a misunderstanding between teens many years previous.

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Story: Ritsu, the adult (25 year old) son of a publishing magnate, wants to prove himself by going to a competitor to work. But instead of being hired into the lit department, he finds himself in the girls manga publishing section. Dismayed, he is also frustrated to find that his boss seems to remember him from somewhere, even though he doesn’t recall the boss, Takano, at all.  But Takano does remember Ritsu – as the boy who broke his heart in high school – the same relationship that Ritsu remembers ruining him for relationships as well. Takano challenges that he will get Ritsu to admit he loves him within the year. Ritsu, however, is quite prepared to make sure that never happens.

Quite a bit of the novel is about the manga publishing business. Deadlines, corrections, typesetting, etc. The rest of it is pretty much fight scenes between Ritsu and Takano, each with an axe to grind and upset about how they both misunderstood the situation in high school. Only a few pages in this first volume actually go toward the relationship side of the story.

Cue jealous previous lovers who will also have something against Ritsu and his quest to prove himself. It may mean traveling across Japan to get material before a deadline or staying up all night in the post deadline blues, in order for him to prove his skills. But when your boss lives in the apartment right next to yours, it also means he’s going to have you available at all times. Ritsu has a tough year ahead of him.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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