World’s Greatest First Love Volume 4 continues the stories of Ritsu/Takano and Shota/Yukina (mostly Ritsu/Takano). The theme continues to be a mix of publishing industry behind the scenes / romance in equal parts. In this case, the busy Christmas season of publishing (and deadlines being constantly moved up for the holiday) contrasted with the loneliness of the main characters as they go home afterwards.
Story: Ritsu is extremely busy as he learns more about manga publishing at the end of the year. His memories of wanting to spend a special Christmas with Takano in High School contrast sharply with his current situation and frustration with life – especially that Takano is probably spending the holiday with Yokozawa. Turns out, it’s also Takano’s birthday but Ritsu doesn’t feel like celebrating. Conned into ‘taking a drive’ as a birthday present, and after a confession by Takano, Ritsu finds out that Takano also is reflecting about all the things he wanted to do with Ritsu for Christmas and Birthdays when they were younger – all in vain since they broke up before any of those fantasies could be fulfilled. Meanwhile, back at work, Ritsu learns how deal with his artists – both the wrong and the right way! But another tender moment between the two confuses Ritsu even more – how can this cruel, snarky, rude man during the day hold him so tenderly at night? Meanwhile, young faced 30 year old Shota Kisa is puzzling over his torrid affair with handsome prince type Kou Yukina. Will his insecurities overwhelm the relationship?
Nakamura’s subtleties continue to impress in this volume – the little differences in facial expressions and insecurities and of course all the great ‘feels’ she manages to bring out in her characters. I’d still wish for less of the publishing industry behind the scenes and more of the romance; but admittedly those scenes are interesting as well. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.