There’s nothing strange about high school students asking each other out- but when it comes to Negishi and Hoshino, their relationship is a little different from the norm. The straight-talking Hoshino decides that there should be complete honesty and straightforwardness between them, but his curious naïveté means that dealing with the hot-headed Negishi won’t always be easy! Will this unlikely couple endure the ups and downs of a teenage relationship?
When the combined efforts of Hige and Hopeless brought the name Love Roma to my attention, I decided to trust their taste in manga and jump right in myself. And fortunately, beneath the simplistic artwork and basic premise lay an interesting and entertaining little series that proved that the high school romance genre still has some life left in it.
Like most series of its type, Love Roma has a set pattern to follow with regards to content- there’s studying, part time jobs, meeting the parents and so forth. What really brings the series to life, however, is the interaction between the characters. Hoshino is almost disturbingly direct, with a lack of tact and subtlety that has to be seen to be believed as he tries to understand the emotions and humanity that come to most people naturally. In contrast, Negishi is the perfect foil for him- hot-headed and a little violent, her impulsiveness and reliance on her emotions contrasts with Hoshino’s logic and detachment. Admittedly, at first it’s difficult to see the attraction between them, but as the series progresses, their relationship slowly builds into something stronger.
Entertaining as our leads are to watch, Love Roma is also awash with supporting characters, some of whom get so little attention that they are actually driven to form their own league of minor characters in the omake pages. Whilst there’s no doubt that this eclectic bunch of personalities certainly adds spice to the series, it’s a sad fact that are largely one dimensional personalities, some of whom get barely any development (even remembering their names is no easy task).
Visually, Love Roma’s artwork is distinctive for its simplicity- thick lines and basic designs prevail, and it’s hard to tell whether this is an intentional decision to enhance the straightforward charm of the series, or simply due to the limits of the artist’s ability. Either way, the art is certainly memorable, although perhaps not for the right reasons.
An entertaining romantic comedy with the unique twist of having the main characters be straightforward with each other, Love Roma may not be anything particularly special, but it’s still an enjoyable enough series. If you’re in the market for romance and aren’t too fussy about artwork, then give this one a try.
Volumes: 5 [complete]
Creator: Minoru Toyoda
Licensor: Del Rey