It’s sad. This manga actually started off really, really well. The story, albeit silly, was set, and the characters had enough enthusiasm and heart to carry the focus forward. Something that is apparent almost immediately with Love Allergen is that it loves itself. It loves emotion and the sense of magic and wonder that a story is able to showcase with enough effort put into it. Being calm and collected is considered more of an afterthought, as this story drives forward with passion and frivolity. The quality isn’t worthy of any awards and it’s still lacking in complete realism (as is the case of an almost-fantasy-but-not-quite slice of life). What it does instead is tries. Tries to be creative. To do anything slightly (but not really effectively) different from any standard romance manga. For that, I will give it immediate credit, because I appreciate it tremendously.
But then the ending kind of went like this:
Let me clarify something: what I stated above about this manga trying to be creative is through playing with certain tropes that come with typical manga. The main character of Love Allergen is a boy. A pretty boy. A pretty boy who is constantly berated for being too feminine-looking. His dream is to become a true man, like his father, who sticks to his word and works hard to maintain his family. Gee, it almost sounds like this is parodying the oblivious, aloof male character that can’t own up to his feelings and pick a bitch already. Then there’s the main female character, who has a “love allergen,” which entails that she cannot fall in love, lest she wants to put her body in extreme danger. Despite this, she’s fascinated with the concept of love, and is cheery, bright, and almost as naive as the main male character when it comes to perceiving said concept of love. A female character who’s just as oblivious and aloof as the main male character? That’s new.
Effort is another word I used above. The amount of effort placed into this manga is staggering (compared to the typical manga), and it filled me with awe when I began the story. Almost every character is zany and off-the-wall. Jokes fly in from every corner. Exaggerated expressions and heart-shaped pupils abound. It’s almost as if I’m reading the story of a hormonal teenage girl with as much innocence as one can fit into a human body. Everything is happy and fun and carefree and rainbow-tinted and bouncy and jittery and ahhhhhh!~
It got stale after about ten chapters. My brain is itching to get to genuine criticism.
First and foremost, the atmosphere only survives upon plot devices of similar atmosphere. This manga is carefree and fun. What happens when something dramatic occurs? It’s out of the blue, though predictable enough. The amount of fluff put into the plot and character’s spunk leaves little room for actual development, so the more serious occurrences feel flat. Typically, dramatic scenes are most effective when one isn’t expecting them. However, they are also most effective with enough build-up and character relatability, neither of which Love Allergen possesses (or not enough of). So, with the criteria involved, Love Allergen has one out of three boxes checked. I’m only 33% invested in what’s happening here. This is most of the reason why the ending felt so half-assed. That, and because of the horrid use of plot convenience. Take my word for it. It’s disgusting.
Another thing that Love Allergen does well is not giving a shit about developing side characters. Within the story, there are many characters. There’s the main male, the main female, the main female’s friend, the main male’s childhood friend, the main male’s brother, sister, and father; the tree spirit (don’t ask), and the main female’s former flame. Among this listing, the main male, the main female, and the main male’s childhood friend are the only three who get adequate screentime. And by screentime, I mean time used to show their inner thoughts and behavior. Y’know, making them deeper than their skin. As each chapter rolls along, the other characters start to become less and less important, especially the main male’s family. Hell, the main male’s whole goal was to become a stronger man like his father, but his father only shows up maybe three chapters. What are we supposed to identify with? Better yet, the main male’s brother and sister are near incest-like with him. Because of his looks. That’s family love. I have siblings, so I can relate to this.
No, I don’t They’re only used for comic relief. Nothing more.
So then, how do the main characters fare? It depends on how you look at the situation. The main male is actually better than most in his position. He’s passionate about his interests and treats girls more harshly rather than gently. By the end, though, he’s basically their equivalent. Improving himself upon the basis of love. Nothing will stop him. The main female is basically what drives the plot. She comes up with stupid ideas that lead to stupid situations and she acts happy and overly optimistic about everything. This was fun for about a third of the story. It got old. She didn’t stop. Nothing will stop her (except her family). Then, the main male’s childhood friend is basically there to provide a love triangle. Admittedly, though, she was more likable than the main female. So… whatever.
Look at the art above and tell me if there’s anything noteworthy about it. Deja vu. I don’t see anything spectacular, so I won’t say any more than I need to. The art is fine. It heightened things to the extent that it needed to, but the emotional connection was cut off more by other variables, so it didn’t matter much in the long run. The characters looked bland, if not different. It wasn’t much of a factor.
I’m gonna wrap this one up quickly because I have a bit of a headache. Not that this manga gave me a “Critiquing Allergen,” but it was definitely memorable. Memorably good start, memorably atrocious ending. It almost seemed like the ending was rushed in order to make the thirty (or thirty-one if you count the recap chapter) chapter deadline. If that was the case, it’s a pity. If not, the author has some work to do. Overall, it wasn’t bad. It just got tired of its own premise as it went along, and so did I.
Personal Score: C
Critical Score: C