Manga has a way of conveying romance in its most pure form. Witnessing two people meeting and getting to know each other and seeing the spark between them develop never gets old when executed correctly. Typically, these stories revolve around students in a school setting since it’s something we can all relate to or feel nostalgic over. However, as I get older, I find myself looking for a romance that depicts a more current setting.
I Love You So Much, I Hate You is the newest yuri title from mangaka Yuni, which takes place in one of the least romantic settings I could think of: a corporate office. Through these themes and a rather harsh title, I went in hungry for corporate drama and romance.
Saori Fujimara is the youngest member of a corporate company’s marketing division who has spent her whole life yearning for people who don’t reciprocate her feelings and has all but given up on love. This is why when she begins crushing on Ayako Asano, her older-married boss, she tries to write those feelings off as hopeless. However, the two share an unexpected encounter at a bar after work, and their relationship quickly heats up as they try and decipher what is more important: their feelings or society’s expectations.
I Love You So Much, I Hate You got its hooks in me almost immediately. Yuni does a great job setting up a compelling love story and, while it may be a tad predictable, I still found myself unable to put it down.
While the “will-they-won’t-they” trope is relatively common in romance stories, I Love You So Much, I Hate You’s setting and characters made it stand out from the rest. Yuni does a fantastic job creating two distinct personalities in Fujimara and Asano who come across as likable and relatable, making it easy to get invested in their story.
On the other hand, seeing how their relationship is an affair, it’s hard to decide what the right move for the couple is. The intrigue of how the Fujimara and Asano decide to take their relationship is what fuels I Love You So Much, I Hate You’s drama, but, sadly, it doesn’t come to much of a satisfying conclusion.
I won’t spoil how the book ends, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing as much as I’d hoped. You see, the ending itself isn’t the issue, its how Yuni quickly wraps everything up within a chapter. With the way that the story was going, we could have seen another volume or two worth of content to let everything play out in a way that was not only satisfying but also made sense. Instead, all of the story’s plotlines are tied up within a page, and readers are given an ending that doesn’t feel earned.
In terms of the illustrations, Yuni’s art is a bit of a mixed bag. Instead of taking a unique approach to character designs, we get something comparatively average to what we’ve seen before. I wished that these illustrations stood out a little more to heighten the drama and romance, but instead, they didn’t help or hinder the manga’s appeal.
The ecchi tagline had me worried this title would lean heavily on the sexual aspects once the romance ramped up, but these scenes flowed naturally with the narrative. This was important given that the entire story rests on the shoulders of Fujimara and Asano’s relationship, and the physical aspect of it is as important as the drama the ensues. Still, the scenes themselves are reasonably vanilla as Yuni finds ways to keep the tone consistent.
I Love You So Much, I Hate You presents a compelling relationship based on forbidden love and an HR nightmare. The execution of it all is engaging, but the conclusion is paced in a way that may leave the reader unsatisfied. Still, the story has far more going for it than against, leaving the final product to be a manga that fans of yuri romance may want to check out.
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