Review – First Love (Sakamoto Isao)

First Love by Sakamoto Isao

Summary (from MangaFox):

Azayoshi lives in an empty world, there is no hope or happiness, all she wants is a person who will never leave her side. Suddenly Ai steps into her dark world. To her he was her love. But what will happen when he discovers Azayoshi’s past? Why is she keeping secrets from Ai?


WARNING: This manga is intended for an audience of at LEAST 15-16+. You’ve been warned.

All right, let’s jump right in.

I really can’t decide if I want to hate this or not.
I understand and try to empathize with Azayoshi’s problems, but I have a lot of difficulty suspending belief when I read this. The enjou kousai (compensated dating) I get, but how is she still at the top of her class while she’s doing all of this? Also, I can understand that she would be singled out by her classmates for rumors that she gets around, but I have a REALLY hard time believing that the teachers know nothing about it. It’s pretty obvious that she’s being bullied, but then I think Japanese teachers only do all the really proactive stuff (going to a student’s house) when they’re having academic or social problems in the classroom.

I really don’t have any issues with compensated dating being used as a device within the story, but I do have an issue with the way the people in her life handle it. I realize that Azayoshi’s mother does almost NOTHING because that’s what the author wants her to do, but this aspect of their relationship annoyed me to no end. At the end of the story, that mother-daughter relationship is left pretty much up in the air. I really would have liked to see some more resolution with it.

And then there’s Ai’s ex-girlfriend. I’ve read a lot of manga with a LOT of bad rival female characters, but she takes the cake for the most UNLIKEABLE by a long shot. It’s said that she suffered a lot of hardship, and while I can understand (within the context of shoujo manga) why she would want to transfer that pain to other people, it just makes her so fake and unlikeable. All I have to say is that she did NOT deserve the ending that she got.

As for Azayoshi herself, I found her character to be…okay. She’s likeable enough, and I can understand how she found herself in that situation. Ai is passable enough, although he seems rather flat and uninspiring.

The art in this is passable. Nothing to write home about, really. Also, Ai is not a good source of eye candy; I’d actually classify as one of the “uglier” male leads I’ve seen in a while.

Overall, this is a sea of mediocrity. I’ve seen other manga deal with enjou kousai in a more realistic and engrossing manner than this. In essence, I finished this manga with a resounding “MEH”.

Score: 6.0/10

+ : Decent female lead with believable motivations

– : Almost every other character was boring and uninspired.