Cover of the Japanese edition of volume 7 with Risa (left) and Ōtani (right)
|Written by||Aya Nakahara|
|Original run||September 2001 – December 2006|
|Released||13 July 2006|
|Directed by||Kitaji Ishikawa|
|Studio||Tohokushinsha Film Corporation|
|Released||13 July 2006|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Konosuke Uda|
|Produced by||Junko Abe
|Music by||Hironosuke Sato|
|Original network||TBS, CBC, MBS|
|Original run||7 April 2007 – 29 September 2007|
|Love Com D or Love|
|Written by||Aya Nakahara|
|Original run||May 2009 – July 2012|
Love Com (Japanese: ラブ★コン Hepburn: Rabu★Kon, sometimes spelled Love*Com), also known as Lovely Complex, is a romantic comedy shōjo manga by Aya Nakahara. It was published by Shueisha in Bessatsu Margaret from 2001 to 2006 and collected in 17 tankōbon volumes. The series is about the romance between a tall girl and a short boy who are treated as a comedy duo by their classmates. In 2004, it received the 49th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōjo.
The story has been adapted as a live-action movie released in 2006, a 24-episode anime television series broadcast in 2007, and an adventure game released for PlayStation 2 released in 2006. Two drama CDs have also been produced. The manga and the live-action movie are licensed in North America by Viz.
A sequel series called Love Com D (or Lovely Complex Deluxe or "Lovely Complex Two") began serialization in the May 2009 issue of the bimonthly shōjo manga magazine Deluxe Margaret, focusing on Risa's younger brother.
Love Com is a love story between a boy and a girl in Sakai, Osaka. The girl, Risa Koizumi, is 172 centimetres (5 ft 8 in) tall—much taller than the average Japanese girl. The boy, Atsushi Ōtani, is 156 cm (5 ft 1 in)—way below the height of the average Japanese boy. Because of this, the pair are called the "All Hanshin Kyojin" after a popular comedy duo that has a similar height difference. The difference in their heights is extremely exaggerated (in the opening credits of the anime, for example, the top of Ōtani's head doesn't even reach Risa's chin when it should be approximately level with her mouth.)
During summer school, a very tall student named Ryouji Suzuki (from another class) shows up and Risa immediately falls for him because he is tall. There is a girl that Atsushi likes as well, so Risa and Atsushi decide to put aside their differences and help each other get their love interests. Their efforts fail spectacularly as Suzuki and the girl whom Ōtani had a crush on - Chiharu Tanaka - end up becoming a couple. All is not lost though, since Risa and Ōtani become close friends. As they get to know each other better, Risa's feelings for Atsushi begin to blossom, and her love life gets complicated from there on.
One notable fact about Love Com is that instead of speaking standard Japanese, almost all characters speak in Kansai-ben. Many native Osakan voice actors are employed in the anime. While having one or two characters speaking Kansai-ben is common in many anime shows, having all characters doing so is unusual in media produced for a nationwide audience.
- Risa Koizumi (小泉 リサ Koizumi Risa)
- Drama role by: Ema Fujisawa, Voiced by: Akemi Okamura
- The protagonist, Risa Koizumi is not your average Japanese high school girl. Standing 172 centimetres (5 ft 8 in) tall, Risa stands taller than the average height of Japanese boys let alone Japanese girls (the average height for a female is 158 cm (5 ft 2 in)). In the anime she states that she has always been the tallest person in her class. Ironically, her surname means 'small fountain'. She and other characters compare her to a giraffe. Risa can be impulsive and strong-willed at times, and is rarely willing to display her softer side. She had a crush on Suzuki before he started dating Chiharu.
- Risa starts developing feelings for Ōtani and soon admits to herself that she likes him. She then starts trying to confess. Failing the first time, Nobuko and Nakao try to help with Nobuko often giving Risa advice on what to do. Finally she very directly tells him. She immediately regrets it, and tells Ōtani to pretend it never happened, but in spite of herself she tells Ōtani once again that she likes him. Ōtani responds that he cannot see her as a girlfriend yet, so her new goal is to make Ōtani regret that and make him like her as well.
- Atsushi Ōtani (大谷 敦士 Ōtani Atsushi)
- Drama role by: Teppei Koike, Voiced by: Akira Nagata, Voice actor for game/drama CD: Takahiro Sakurai
- Atsushi Ōtani is one of the main characters. He is very short for a boy, standing 156 centimetres (5 ft 1 in). The average height for a male in Japan is 172 cm (5 ft 8 in). Like Koizumi, Ōtani's surname (roughly, "big valley") is a pun on his diminutive stature. He can be thoughtless and rude but he is kind and a little silly at heart. Ironically, Ōtani also happens to be the star player of the school basketball team. He reveals he wants to go to University after graduation to get his teaching certificate. He dreams of teaching basketball to elementary school students.
- His ex-girlfriend is Mayu Kanzaki, the manager of his middle-school basketball team. She broke up with him for a much taller boyfriend, and this is one of the reasons Ōtani is sensitive about his height. He later finds out that his lack of height wasn't the reason that she broke up with him; it was because she was in love with someone else already who just happened to be tall. He doesn't know quite yet how he feels about Risa when she confesses her feelings for him, and responds that he can't see her as a girlfriend (yet). He later realizes that he does care for her, and he kisses her. Later on in the series, Ōtani gets the wrong idea when Risa keep doing suspicious things with her co-worker Kohori, and then breaks up with her. However, after seeing how devoted she is to him, Ōtani reconsiders and they make up on Christmas Eve.
- Nobuko Ishihara (石原 信子 Ishihara Nobuko)
- Drama role by: Nami Tamaki, Voiced by: Saori Higashi
- Fashionable and charming, Nobu is Risa's best friend. She is generally wiser than Risa or Chiharu in the ways of love, and is always ready to offer her advice. She's usually the one who sets up all the 'alone time' moments with Risa and Ōtani. Unfortunately her efforts tend to end in failure and Risa returns to her for comfort. She's utterly in love with her boyfriend, Nakao, and is always calling him her 'honey', 'darling', and 'baby'. Whenever Otani upsets Risa, she and Nakao express their disapproval, usually through means of torture and insults.
- Heikichi Nakao (中尾 平吉 Nakao Heikichi)
- Drama role by: Yusuke Yamazaki, Voiced by: Yasuhiko Tokuyama, Voice actor for game/drama CD: Kenjiro Tsuda
- Nobu's boyfriend and Ōtani's best friend. Considerate, sensitive, mild-mannered and easygoing., Nakao is absolutely dedicated to Nobu, and when he is not playing basketball with Ōtani, he can usually be found helping with her match-making schemes. Despite the fact that Otani is his best friend, Nakao and Nobu-chan are seen multiple times insulting and torturing him, usually after Otani rejects or upsets Risa.
- Chiharu Tanaka (田中 千春 Tanaka Chiharu)
- Drama role by: Risa Kudo, Voiced by: Kazuko Kojima
- One of Risa's closest friends, Chiharu has such a shy, demure personality that she fears most boys her own age. Ōtani once harbored a crush on her (she resembles Kanzaki, his ex-girlfriend, or vice versa), but Chiharu instead fell for the gentle Suzuki. The two are now a couple. When everybody starts making college plans, Suzuki and Chiharu applied for the same college, but Suzuki got rejected. He sadly tells Chiharu somebody else would be able to protect her. For the first time, Chiharu breaks out of her shy character and violently lifts up a desk and throws at him (narrowly missing), frustrated that Suzuki thinks he can be replaced. They later make up and Suzuki promises to join Chiharu in her new school the next year.
- Ryoji Suzuki (鈴木 涼二 Suzuki Ryoji)
- Drama role by: Hiro Mizushima, Voiced by: Kenjiro Tsuda, Voice actor for game/drama CD: Masaya Onosaka
- Chiharu's boyfriend. Suzuki's cool demeanor is often mistaken for standoffishness, and so he has few friends. Oblivious to Risa's crush on him, he develops feelings for Chiharu, and eventually asks her out. Like Chiharu, Suzuki is shy and easily embarrassed. When he fails to get into the same university as Chiharu, he promises to try again the year after.
- Haruka Fukagawa (深川 遥 Fukagawa Haruka)
- Voiced by: Masaya Onosaka, Voice actor for game/drama CD: Ryotaro Okiayu
- A handsome, effeminate young man who developed a childhood crush on Risa when she defended him from a gang of bullies. Though he is popular with many of the other girls (dating seven at a time and towards chapter 52 dates 2 more for a total of nine), he says it's all preparation for when he goes out with Risa, despite the fact that she always rejects him. According to Risa, his grandmother is English. It is also suggested that he might have a crush on Seiko. He never tires of insulting Otani, (his most frequently used insult is "Midget"), and is constantly pestering Risa about her feelings for him, stating that Otani isn't good enough for her.
- Mayu Kanzaki (神崎 真由 Kanzaki Mayu)
- Drama role by: Mio Kato, Voiced by: Yuki Matsuoka
- She is Ōtani's ex-girlfriend. She and Chiharu look very similar, which is the most likely reason that Ōtani had a crush on Chiharu. They started dating in middle-school, and she was the manager for the school basketball team. She broke up with him because she was in love with someone else who was tall, leaving him completely heartbroken and causing his inferiority complex.
- She invites Ōtani to the team Christmas party, and though Ōtani accepts, he ends up going to the Umibōzu concert with Risa instead. She then visited Ōtani's school to see him, but encountered Risa and Nobu. Risa is convinced that Ōtani is still in love with Mayu, so she goes to clear up a misunderstanding. It is then that Mayu tells him that she did not break up with him because of his height. However, she appears again later, after having broken up with her boyfriend. When she asks to meet up again, he says "Sorry, I can't because if I do there'll be an idiot who'll cry."
- Umibōzu (海坊主)
- Drama role by: Susumu Terajima, Voiced by: Smokey Tetsuni and Hisao Egawa
- A popular rapper whom both Risa and Ōtani are avid fans of, leading to Nobu's suggestion that the two are compatible. Risa and Ōtani accidentally cross paths with Umibōzu while on a class trip, and learn that he is actually a devoted family man, with a wife and son with a similar story of how they became a couple. He is named after the mythological creature Umibōzu due to his bald head.
- Kuniumi Maitake (舞竹 国海 Maitake Kuniumi)
- Drama role by: Shosuke Tanihara, Voiced by: Junichi Suwabe
- Student teacher at Risa and Ōtani's school. Maitake, who prefers the nickname "Maity" or "Mighty", is taller than Risa and extraordinarily good-looking. He bears a resemblance to "Cain-sama", a character in one of Risa's favorite visual novels, and soon acquires a legion of female fans. Gaining affection from Risa, Ōtani soon becomes jealous and quickly starts to realize his feelings for her. It is later revealed he has a fiance - named Jody - much to the disappointment of his fan club - and that he is Haruka's cousin.
- Kiyoji Nakano (中野 清司 Nakano Kiyoji)
- Voiced by: Masashi Hirose
- Homeroom teacher at Risa and Ōtani's class. He gave Risa and Atsushi the nickname "All Hanshin Kyojin."
- Mimi Yoshioka (吉岡 美々 Yoshioka Mimi)
- Voiced by: Kae Araki
- Ōtani's next door neighbor. She is in love with Ōtani and brings him milk every day in hopes that he would one day grow taller. She is about the same height as Risa. Mimi harbors a burning hatred and jealousy for Risa because (despite her having the same height issue as Mimi) she had won Ōtani's heart. She comically switches between her alter egos, acting sweet towards Ōtani, yet sour to Risa behind his back. Eventually, she accepts that Ōtani likes Koizumi but swears that she will someday take Ōtani from Koizumi.
- Risa's senpai
- Drama role by: Shugo Oshinari
- Dancing Yoshiko
- Drama role by: Eiji Wentz
- Kazuki Kohori (小堀 和希 Kohori Kazuki)
- Voiced by: Hiroki Shimowada
- A young student who works part time with Risa in Ikebe. He is notably shorter than her, although slightly taller than Ōtani (158 cm.), and has distinctive black hair with a red streak. Risa soon discovers that he is also an avid Umibouzu fan. He very soon develops feelings for Risa, who admits to herself that she finds him 'cute'. Against her better judgment, Risa attends an Umibōzu concert with Kohori which leads to complications in her relationship with Ōtani. He even proclaims his love for Risa, which causes Ōtani to give him a right hook. Around chapter 60 in the manga, Risa's classmate Abe is shown to have a crush on Kohori and is dating him.
- Seiko Kotobuki (寿 聖子 Kotobuki Seiko)
- Voiced by: Fujiko Takimoto
- A blonde who has a large crush on Ōtani. She is transgender and was assigned male at birth, and states that God placed her in a wrong body. She prefers to be called Seiko instead of Seishiro (birth name) because it sounds more feminine. She kissed Ōtani to confess her feelings while she is tending to Ōtani's injury in the school infirmary. Ōtani got a shock when he found out Seiko's birth sex, but still chooses to be her friend. In the manga, she has a crush on Haruka and confessed to him in the same manner she did with Ōtani. When Seiko was planning on confessing to a man who saved her from a creeper, her voice became deeper and not "cute", therefore Seiko cut her long hair and decided to become "a dangerous man", choosing Ōtani as her master. But then it seemed that only a cold was making Seiko's voice change, and she went back to her chirpy, female self.
- Ms. Matsubara (松原さん Matsubara-san)
- Voiced by: Keiko Tsukamoto
- The manager in charge at the restaurant where Risa works. She wears glasses and is quite nosy. When she is intoxicated, she turns wild, and does things that she won't remember the next day.
Creation and development
According to the afterward of volume 6, Ōtani ("big valley") was going to be named Nakatani ("middle valley"), but Aya Nakahara changed her mind because naka was "too middlin'."
The manga was written and illustrated by Aya Nakahara. It was initially serialized in Japan by Shueisha in the shōjo (aimed at teenage girls) manga magazine Bessatsu Margaret from September 2001 to December 2006. The untitled chapters were collected in 17 tankōbon volumes. The manga is licensed in English in North America by Viz Media, with 16 volumes published as of January 2010. The Viz edition is licensed for distribution in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment, which released volume one in May 2008. The series is also licensed in France by Delcourt, in Italy by Planet Manga, in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid, in Spain by Planeta DeAgostini, in Taiwan by Tong Li Publishing, in Hungary by Mangafan and in Vietnam by TVM Comics.
Love Com was adapted as a live-action movie directed by Kitaji Ishikawa with screenplay by Osamu Suzuki. It starred Ema Fujisawa as Risa Koizumi and Teppei Koike as Atsushi Ōtani. It was released in theaters on 2006-07-15, and on DVD on 2007-01-01. A subtitled DVD was released in English in North America by Viz Media on 2008-02-19.
The anime television series was produced by Toei Animation and directed by Konosuke Uda, with music by Hironosuke Sato and character designs by Hideaki Maniwa. The opening theme songs were "Kimi + Boku = Love?" (キミ+ボク=LOVE?) by Tegomass (episodes 1–13) and "Hey! Say!" by Hey! Say! 7 (episodes 14–24); the ending themes were "Kiss ~ Kaerimichi no Love Song~" (キッス〜帰り道のラブソング) by Tegomass (episodes 1–13) and "Bon Bon" by Hey! Say! 7 (episodes 14–24). It was broadcast on TBS, CBC, and MBS from 7 April 2007 to 29 September 2007.
|Episode||Title ||Original air date|
|1||"Freshman Year Summer! I'll Definitely Find a Boyfriend!"
"Kou-1 no Natsu! Zettai Kareshi, Tsukuttaru wa!" (高1の夏!絶対カレシ、つくったるわ!)
|High school girl Risa Koizumi, who is far taller than average, is friends with high school boy Atsushi Otani, who is far shorter than average, and together are known as All Hanshin Kyojin. Koizumi develops a crush on Ryoji Suzuki. Otani says he will help Koizumi begin a relationship with Suzuki if Koizumi helps him begin a relationship with her friend Chiharu Tanaka. Otani and Koizumi invite Suzuki and Chiharu to the pool along with their other friends Nobuko "Nobu" Ishihara and Heikichi Nakao who are already dating. Otani and Koizumi accidentally spend more time with each other than with their crushes and Suzuki and Chiharu end up developing crushes on each other and begin dating. Otani and Koizumi console each other and attend a summer festival where they challenge each other to find love before the other does.|
|2||"The Ex-Girlfriend Love Triangle?!"
"Moto Kano to Sankakukankei!?" (元カノと三角関係!?)
|3||"A Guy You Like or a Guy from the Past?"
"Suki na Otoko ka, Mukashi no Otoko ka?" (好きなオトコか、昔のオトコか?)
|4||"Kiss! I've Fallen For You!"
"Chū! Suki ni Natchaimashita!" (チュッ!好きになっちゃいました!)
|5||"Send Forbidden Love Flying!"
"Kindan no Ai o Buttobase!" (禁断の愛をぶっ飛ばせ!)
|6||"A Maiden's Determination! Love-Love Confession Plan!!"
"Otome no Ichidai Kesshin! Raburabu Kokuhaku Dai Sakusen!!" (乙女の一大決心! ラブラブ告白大作戦!!)
|7||"Sunk! Worst Confession in History"
"Gekichin! Shijō Saitē na Kokuhaku" (撃沈!史上サイテーな告白)
|8||"Comeback Impossible! Major Heartbreak!!"
"Saiki Funō! Dai Shitsuren!!" (再起不能!大失恋!!)
|9||"Resuscitation!! Aim for Girlfriend Status!!"
"Kishikaisei!! Mezase Kanojo no Za!!" (起死回生!!めざせ彼女の座!!)
|10||"A Confrontation with the Ex-Girlfriend?! The Epic Breast-Baring Battle!!"
"Moto Kano to Taiketsu!? Chichi Dashi Daitakusen!!" (元カノと対決!?乳だし大作戦!!)
|11||"Absolute Death! Revived Love with the Ex-Girlfriend?!"
"Zettai Zetsumei! Moto Kano to Fukkatsu Ai?!" (絶対絶命!元カノと復活愛?!)
|12||"Recapture Love! Improve as a Girl with Winning Honmei Chocolate!!"
"Ai o Torimodose! Honmei Choko de Onna o Migaku!!" (愛を取り戻せ!本命チョコで女を磨く!!)
|13||"Heating Up! A First Kiss in His Room?"
"Hatsunetsu! Aitsu no Heya de Fāsuto Kissu?" (発熱!あいつの部屋でファースト·キッス?)
|14||"A Killer Crush on Maity"
"Maiti ni Kyunshiniya!" (マイティにキュン死にや!)
|15||"A Dangerous Man, Maity's Sweet Temptation"
"Kiken na Otoko Maiti no Amai Yūwaku" (危険なオトコ マイティの甘い誘惑)
|16||"Maity's Magic! The Transforming Patterns of Love?!"
"Maiti no Mahō! Hengesuru Renbo Yō!?" (マイティの魔法! 変化する恋模様!?)
|17||"Love's Iron Fist! Catch, O Maiden Soul!!"
"Ai no Tekken! Uketomero, Otome Tamashii!!" (愛の鉄拳! 受け止めろ、乙女魂!!)
|18||"The Best Birthday in History"
"Shijō Saikō no Tanjōbi" (史上最高の誕生日)
|19||"Sudden Downturn!! The First Date Is the Beginning of Disaster"
"Kyūten Chokka!! Hatsu Dēto wa Fumei no Hajimari" (急転直下!!初デートは不運の始まり)
|They go on their first date and are embarassed in a stadium. She starts to have second doubts after he bumps into her ex-girlfriend attending the same event but they gently reaffirm their love. In the end, she meets her rival, the next door neighbor idol!|
|20||"Declaration of War!! The Dangerous Beauty Burns with Envy!!"
"Sensen Fukoku! Shitto ni Moeru Denjarasu Bishōjo!!" (宣戦布告!!嫉妬に燃えるデンジャラス美少女!!)
|21||"Premonition of Separation?! Risa and Ōtani Walk Separate Paths"
"Wakare no Yokan?! Risa to Ōtani ga Ayumu Betsubetsu no Michi" (別れの予感?!リサと大谷が歩む別々の道)
|22||"A Catastrophic Declaration from Ōtani!!"
"Ōtani kara no Hakyoku Sengen!!" (大谷からの破局宣言!!)
|23||"Various Paths!! Everyone Embraces Their Own Circumstances"
"Shinro wa Iroiro!! Minna ga Kakaeru Sorezore no Jiko" (進路はいろいろ!!みんなが抱えるそれぞれの事故)
"Zutto Issho!!" (ずっと一緒!!)
The English edition of Love Com has been favorably reviewed, with praise especially for Nakahara's comedic timing, sympathetic characters, and deft depictions of emotions. A reviewer at Anime News Network praised it as "the standard by which all other modern romantic comedies should be measured" for its handling of the range of its characters' emotions. The first volume was named by the Young Adult Library Services Association as among the best graphic novels for teens for 2007.
The live-action movie of Love Com was named by Young Adult Library Services Association as one of 16 movies that are 2009 Fabulous Films for Young Adults on the theme of coming of age around the world.
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Deftly navigating through these extremes of emotion—as well as the extremes of artwork (wacky comedy expressions vs. serious shōjo heartbreak)—is a display of talent that few can hope to match.
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Love*Com remains one of the most consistently entertaining titles in the Shojo Beat line, winning points for stylish, evocative artwork and sympathetic, vivid characters.
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