Title: Romantic Killer Vol. 1
Author: Wataru Momose
Release Date: October 4, 2022
Publisher: VIZ Media
Romantic Killer Vol. 1 is an anti-shojo story of a girl whose interest in romance is middling at best. Forced into a protagonist role with loads of magic twisting her hand into falling in love, she sees herself deprived of her favorite things and decides to do her worst.
Anzu is a run-of-the-mill girl, but she’s a little behind her classmates in heart matters. She was the kind of tomboy who always played video games with boys and never cared much about appearances. Once she got older, dating was the furthest thing from her mind as she had a paradise in the comfort of her home.
With her cat, sweets, and games to play all night, there was no need to complicate life with romance. However, she suddenly sees her perfect life disappear before her eyes as she meets a fairy creature called Riri. You see, this mysterious magical being’s group picks her as the subject of an experiment.
As Japan’s birth rates are declining, the wishes fairies aren’t getting enough energy and urgently need to guarantee people fall in love instead of prioritizing hobbies and work. For this to work, Anzu is considered a case of a problem child, so Riri forces her life upside down so she can get to a “happy ending” status.
Abruptly, Anzu sees her parents leave the house and various weird situations that would only be possible with dumb luck or magic. The worst part of the forceful approach is that Anzu now has no games or sweets, and her cat has left with her parents. For that reason, she decides to be stubborn and do what she can to complicate things for Riri’s plans.
Romantic Killer Vol. 1 introduces our first love interest: Tsukasa Kazuki. He’s a hot guy from another class who seems to act aloof. He’s annoyed by girls who only care about his good looks, and Anzu’s actions to distance herself backfire splendidly. He’s only the first to show up, as upcoming volumes promise to add more hot boys, starting a reverse harem situation in the story.
The main point of the plot is delivering a comedy, as the situations get implausible and over the top. It can be way too simplified, which reduces the impact a little, but it’s also good to see Wataru Momose is honest in depicting shojo tropes instead of ridiculing them.
Though the manga isn’t strictly speaking a shojo – it’s published by Shonen Jump+ – it understands what makes those situations attractive. The few romantic panels are convincing: these characters are getting more attracted to each other than they verbalize despite all the shenanigans in the background.
One curious aspect of the series is that it’s full-color instead of black and white. The art style is simplistic and nothing to write home about, but it manages to differentiate characters and their expressions well enough. I’m fond of the moments the protagonist tries to act more masculine to shoo Kazuki away, and her face gets very detailed, mimicking a JoJo or Fist of the North Star face.
Romantic Killer Vol. 1 is a well-crafted entrance to a comic take on shojo tropes. There are some rough edges, especially the art style, but overall it shows respect for the materials it parodies, and Anzu’s situation is relatable. Will she be able to keep fighting against Riri’s forceful approach?
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