Book Review: Love & Lies Volume 1

Love & Lies Volume 1 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good day today, regardless of whether you are dealing with the usual monotony or looking for a good deal.

Things have been going fairly well, though it seems like I will have a busy week, and I can still do what I enjoy.

Recently, I received some credit for Amazon and I used it to get a few books, one of which was a preorder for a title coming next year, and I already covered one of the two titles I have from that order.

Today, I will be reviewing the other book, which is called Love & Lies Volume 1 by Musawo.

Yukari Nejima is just an ordinary high school, who does not stand out as much as the popular kids, with a crush on a classmate that he might not be able to be with because of a law that assigns people a fianc'e when they reach age 16, and, after confessing his feelings, he is notified of who is future wife will be.

However, when he finally meets the person he is supposed to marry, who attends an all-girls school, he finds out that she too is not so happy with how things are and she starts goading Yukari into following his heart, so she can learn about love.

When I first heard about this series, I thought that I would be in for another typical star crossed lovers for of some kind, and thought I would probably pass it up, just like I should have ignored Girls' Last Tour, but knowing that true originality is hard to come by, I decided to give this a shot.

And after reading this book, I have to say that I really enjoyed it.

From the moment that I started reading the first few pages, I was so engrossed in it that I did not what to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the needs same as everyone else.

While the first chapter starts off like a typical romance series, in that the protagonist reveals his or her infatuation with another character, who we believe will eventually get together towards the end, and that the conflicts that arise would be how they bond, things actually went in a bit of a different direction almost right off the bat.

After Yukari asks rhetorically what it means to like somebody, which is just more of what one would expect to see in a typical romance, especially one focusing on teen romance, somebody comes in and says that they are thinking about falling in love, but they will not marry with almost as much passion as somebody that wants to marry the one they love.

Usually, in a romance series, every character wants to either get into a serious relationship and end up marrying that person, or just go about things like usual, so I was almost kind of ready to set this series aside, because it neither did things differently nor, most important of all, give of the feeling of being unique, as I already had it in my mind that the main character would get the girl he wanted.

However, when the mood of being in love was broken by somebody saying that they would never marry, I was really taken aback and wondered what exactly was going on, even though the official does mention what the world in this series like, in that marriage is not based upon love, but upon who the government says you should marry.

A big problem with anime and manga today is that many of the new series coming have that feeling of just going with the flow and lack the fun, intrigue, or feeling of uniqueness that drew my generation to it, much like Hollywood only cares about putting out movies with more eye candy than story, are sequels to movies that came before, or remakes of something that was enjoyed before.

Yes, the anime studios and manga publisher are doing what is good for them, as they still need money to stay afloat, and not all anime and manga published today has that feeling of being generic, but that does not change the fact that they are making themselves more fragile by being safe and they will eventually lose patrons because all they deliver is just the same as before, instead of taking necessary risks.

If Musawo had really had things flow exactly like every other romance story out there, I would have been very angry because I would have had the same feeling that I had gotten Girls' Last Tour, which felt more like yet another slice of life series than an amazing work, and I cannot continue to waste my time on things that lack even the feeling of originality.

Fortunately, Musawo did not do that because what she did does have some feeling that actual work had been put into this to make it be able to stand out a bit from the crowd, which gives me reason to give her a big round of applause.

Hopefully, this series continues to have that feeling of being just another romance series, because I doubt that the fans of the series, or even fans of the romance genre, would want to see something that started off so well turn into something generic.

Then again, this seems to be Musawo's first attempt at a romance series, as far as I can tell, so she might have just gotten lucky at delivering such a good start, so I would not be surprised if things start going downhill, as she is still human, just like the rest of us.

I also liked how I was able to get quite a few laughs from this book.

While it did not seem to be entirely unique, when compared with other anime and general, Musawo executed the comedic moments well enough that they seemed genuine funny, from the usual hesitation of confessing one's feelings to the things that were a little surprising to see.

The funniest of which, other than the way this series started out, was when Yukari met the person the government said he would marry.

After finding out who he would be partnered up with, Yukari's parents arrange a meeting with the girl and her parents and they do not seem to get along too well, but then the two of them go off, at different times, and they start talking about what love is like and Lilina, the person betrothed to Yukari, asking Yukari about the girl he liked and even has them each other kiss in front of her, after she meets the girl he talked about, claiming that she would not bat an eye, yet she gets flustered about the kiss and even about what the girl of Yukari's dreams liked about him so much, as she did reciprocate his feelings before Yukari got his notice.

I may not know what every girl is like out there in the world, though I have formed friendships with many women over the course of my life, but the ones that I have met over the course of my life want boys to be a loyal to them as I would want them to be with me, regardless of whether it was arranged or not, and seeing a girl in this series that is engaged to the protagonist push him into pursuing a different girl, in order to learn about love, instead of going through it herself was actually more funny to see than if she had beaten up Yukari for being unfaithful.

This series is supposed to two people that have feelings for each other, but cannot be due to the law, which puts people together who may not in fact love each other, and if Musawo had Lilina be more law abiding, this series would have probably turned into a love triangle, instead of doing something that I really liked, and the comedy really would not have stood out as much, even though I would not really call it that unique, or it would have no potential to be anything other than generic.

Thankfully, Musawo did not do that, and it ended up allowing this series to stand out enough that I was actually happy to have given this series a chance.

Hopefully, the comedy continues to stay as good as it was here, because I would rather have comedy that feel refreshing, even if it was not unique, than have comedic moments that were generic in every sense of the word, and I doubt that I am the only one that feels this way.

The thing that I liked the most though was how it showed that arranged marriages might not be so great.

Over the course of my life, I have had many elders beat into my peers and I that marriage is the key to happiness and have tried to hook people up, when all they do is separate us out into groups to prevent that from happening, and while many of my elders would probably be happy if everyone got married, which would mean arranged marriages would have to be universal, they forget the pains of their own marriages, or even the pain a person would go through if they were married, as marriage is not meant for everyone.

Now, I will admit that there may be plenty of people that are happy with their spouse that they got together with through arranged marriage, but, for some reason, it does not feel right to be, in the case of this series, forced to marry somebody that you have hardly any feelings for, because the only way that a bond would be able to established is if the two were in a situation in which they would have to rely on one another and, in cases where one person is hard to compromise with, such as people like me, the one that would be compromising the most would be somebody that may be in the right, but cannot breakthrough to the person that is so set in their reasoning, whereas people who have a bond from the beginning would not have just as many problems and are likely to work together.

In the case of this series, when Yukari and Lilina meet, Lilina notices that Yukari really is not even giving her the time of day, and they eventually say that they would rather be with the one they love than who the government says they should be with, even going so far as to both wondering what love is exactly, and not being interested in marrying the other.

Seeing these events play out, it reminded me of how my elders and peers do not realize that I would not be happy in marriage because there is a high possibility that I would have as much of a hard time accepting myself because my flaws would be a problem for whoever marries because my standards are not the standards of my elders or the standards of my church, and it would make me forget the truth about us as humans, which is that we are perfect in spite of our imperfection, even more so if it was arranged, as the compatibility between the personalities and how the two work on a cognitive level might not be that great.

The arrangement between Yukari and Lilina might work out, as they do seem to be compatible, but something more than just my limited understanding of the characters and the story itself screams that this is not right simply because having people that do not like each other getting married is like trying to force somebody to become somebody they are not, which would be akin to telling a loving and omniscient god that he or she made a mistake in creating that person, which Pastor Rick said in a devotional about accepting ourselves that can be found on his website would be the same as rejecting that god that we consider perfect, and I would just call things off the moment that I detected the discrepancy.

Because of this, it makes me glad that I live in a country where I can choose to marry whoever I want and whenever I want, as it allows the individual to be themselves and find happiness, which will in turn give them some motivation to help others, and it also makes me want to see what kind of struggles the characters in this series will go through, in order to find what makes them happy.

If the issues of arranged marriage never arose, I think I would have been very disappointed, as arranged marriage is what create the conflict that the characters are having, and teens are supposed to rebel, in order to learn what they need to learn, and by getting rid of that, things would not seem to be very believable.

Fortunately, the possible issues of arranged marriage did crop up, which means that Musawo still remembered what the premise of series was all about, and that deserves quite a bit of praise in itself.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be added into what I already talked about.

Because my interest was captured quickly, by surprising me with a beginning that is not too usual for romance series, and held it all the why to the end, there were things to laugh about that were a little different from the norm, and that the fact that some issues with arranged marriage arose made me thankful to be in the country where I live, this was a fairly decent read.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there was nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like, especially how it did not start in the same typical fashion as other romance anime or manga, and not toomuch to hate, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of romance anime and manga, as they will be able to enjoy how this series does not start out exactly like every other series, though there are still likely to be some annoyances.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, though the first few panels might be very off putting, since it gives the impression that this will go like every other romance series out there.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you want to see if you would like Love & Lies, buy a copy of the reviewed title from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys and possibly see if the series is really as good as its first volume seems to be.

Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.

Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.