Chances are, if you’ve heard of this manga and considered reading it, you were turned off by the alarming synopsis.
A 29-year-old man that works as an ero-game producer and has never been in a romantic relationship before falls in love with a thirteen-year-old girl. Well that is certainly different. I flocked to some MyAnimeList reviews to see if this story would become something I would feel uncomfortable reading. Those present gave me the satisfaction of knowing that no crimes are committed within this story, so I decided to give it a try.
Boy, did I not regret it.
One of the particular reviews also noted that the drawing style wasn’t entirely good. I, on the other hand, disagree completely and wholeheartedly. Miman Renai‘s style of illustration is absolutely insane. The expressions are vivid and not only break the barriers of reality, but contorts reality itself. The amount of artistic freedom this manga gets away with is astounding and makes it much more than just another love story (aside from the age difference of the stars). I found myself laughing and saving a good amount of panels from Miman Renai, which I will happily share throughout the course of this entry. It is far and wide the most notable aspect of this manga and it made the story and characters all the more fun to devour. Disclaimer: I would not “devour” thirteen-year-old girls.
Setting aside the artistic eruption within the pages, the story and characters are a little less impressive in scope. I’m grown to enjoy the pairing of “Tomoe-chan” and Kurose, the stars of the manga. However, they’re incredibly unrealistic. Kurose is someone who works in a job that (presumably) pays moderately enough and is good at what he does, earning him a reputation as the president of his company’s right hand man. He is also kind and courteous and thinks of others before his own good (Blech). Despite this, he has never had a girlfriend and has a very low self-esteem, as well as a draining amount of motivation for life or anything else. This is somewhat highlighted by the fact that he sports a giant, curly afro underneath his beanie and his inattentive lifestyle (hardly bathes, shaves, changes clothes, etc.). Perhaps I could get behind this lack of motivation as a justification for him not “succeeding” in life, but it’s shown that the President of the company: an attractive, well-endowed woman (yeah, okay), is smitten with him, and has been for quite some time. So… why did that never amount to anything? On the other hand, if he wished so badly as a child to get into game development or programming, and then accomplished his goal, why isn’t he happy with where he is? I feel as a character, he’s written too bleakly. He has all the benefits to make him an independent and strong character, but instead he’s just mopey all the time for no reason.
In the case of Tomoe, she’s so oblivious and, dare I say stupid, to be taken seriously. Despite the fact that a 29-year-old man is trying very hard to remain in contact with her despite having nothing to do with her, her family, or her future, while also constantly asking to meet up, she takes it at face value. Some other writers would brush this off as her “seeing him for who he is and not for what he could be,” but the way it’s put together simply screams pedophile or sexual predator, regardless of whether or not his intentions are pure, and she doesn’t bat an eye! Even upon the urging of her best friend to stay away from him, Tomoe still hardly sees it as a real possibility. To make things worse, she’s also shown to be an honor student, y’know, people who are typically really smart and attentive? Yet she sees her situation with Kurose as A-OK? Alright, yeah, sure. Even after learning that he works as an ero-game developer, she only distances herself due to her friend’s constant protection. Look, I understand that his intentions are pure, but she can’t even be a little suspicious? A little creeped out? A little hesitant? It’s so convenient that these two are perfect for each other because they’re both written to ramp up the plot and not to be logical.
The story itself is pretty by-the-numbers. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl is oblivious because she’s stupid (and young). Boy freaks out over how to progress the relationship. Conflicts occur, hurdles are raised. So on and so forth. A good portion of the manga’s progression is just Kurose making hilarious faces as he stumbles upon different (usually pessimistic) scenarios in his head. It’s not a story that will enthrall you with creativity, but I enjoyed the way it incorporated the realistic side effects of the kind of situation Tomoe and Kurose are placed in. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Kurose and Tomoe’s chemistry, because I did, but it’s just too formulaic and unbelievable as a story piece. Not to mention, some of the resolutions set forth by the characters are some that others from different settings would choose to do, making the story a tad cliché. “Oh, no. I realize I’m not worthy of you. I’m gonna distance myself without telling you because communication is stupid and wouldn’t drag a story out longer.” Fuck you, Miman Renai.
I was also fairly disappointed with the lack of overall depth given to the side characters. There are some characters that appear more than others, and even drive the main two characters to act or behave in certain ways. Otherwise, pretty panel surfers. They have their opinions, their viewpoints, but never really any multi-dimensional personality. Some are just protective, some are just petty. Others are nerdy, weebish, an asshole, or “the rival.” God, have I mentioned how much I despise love triangles in stories? Not just any love triangles, but the love triangles that happen as a last resort when the writer has no other cliché storylines to choose from? Kimi ni Todoke did it. Lovely Complex did it. Miman Renai does it, too. Fuck me. Anyway, the character list doesn’t offer a wide variety of complex, fully-developed stage performers. It’s the one man, one girl show, and everyone else is on the outside looking in.
What was considerably more noticeable in this manga that other manga like this seem to fall short on is the comedy aspect. Can you believe that I’m not one who typically laughs at anime/manga? You can? Well… anyway, I thought Miman Renai was far more gut-punting than other titles. It’s mostly the overreaction of expressions, but it’s done in a way that it’s not cartoon-ish, but rather a subtle disposition of facial features. The style of character portrayal ranges from incredibly dark and serious to almost chibi-like and clay foam. It seems almost to the point of parody, but I can appreciate the almost imperfect style of drawings pertaining to reactions and realizations in the story. Even in a minimalist fashion, the art somehow manages to be funny. The mood that the art portrays almost makes the reader forget about the taboo themes the story presents.
On a romantic level, the story is so-so. Again, I enjoy the chemistry between the two main characters, but they’re too unrealistic as characters and with the level of “okey-dokeyness” with their relationship to take seriously. It’s almost like fan fiction, except the fan writing the fiction is a fan of child porn.
Also the ending is awful and terrible and I hate it and it should not be the ending rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant
An immensely enjoyable manga for the art and the almost carefree representation of taboo themes, Miman Renai is something I would absolutely recommend. Though, it’s not something of a masterpiece in terms of storytelling or character development. It’s a mindless time-waster and a great treasure trove of reaction images, if you’re into that kind of thing. However, while Kurose doesn’t touch or think of Tomoe in any suggestive way, his undeniable obsession with her is within the boundaries of stalker-like fascination. So be warned: moments of discomfort are in store for those willing to pick this up. Fortunately, his intentions are pure enough to get by relatively unscathed.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.