Kaede Komura has a crush on Mie, the girl who sits right next to him in class; he finds her cute and wishes that she would look at him the same way he looks at her, with or without her glasses. One day, she comes to school looking very different from before: squinting and seemingly not knowing who she’s talking to. Turns out, she’s forgotten her glasses! She has a habit of not bringing them into school, and starts to rely on Komura’s help in classroom, a dream come true for him! Can mutual feelings develop, even if she can’t really see him?
The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses is a romantic comedy; the ‘romantic’ side relies a lot on the audience rooting for the couple to get together, so let’s examine them first. Komura is a typical high school boy, a bit awkward, and gets super shy around his crush. He’s also quite young and clearly dealing with his first experience with such emotions, which is why he sometimes does some questionable things when around his crush, like getting jealous when Mie talks to other boys, or taking sneaky photos of Mie without asking. However, it’s clear from the narrative and his own internal monologue that he knows these actions are wrong; he’s inexperienced with first love and dealing with his new teenage hormones. So, he doesn’t come off as creepy, thankfully. Then there’s Mie, the pink-haired, petite girl who’s an airhead and forgets her glasses a lot, making her squint at everything because she’s as good as blind without them. As a fellow glasses wearer, who is also blind without them, I couldn’t help but feel second-hand anxiety as I don’t know how I could cope with my spectacles, but Mie is pretty chill about it. She’s used to her own forgetfulness and talks in lush dialogue when she’s unsure what’s going on (Komura compares her to a warrior/samurai) which is amusing in its own way. However, so far in Volume 1, the chemistry isn’t there; it’s very one-sided feelings-wise and Mie seems so oblivious to Komura’s feelings that it’s more like she’s relying on him as a sibling or friend to help her out. It doesn’t help that we know next to nothing about either character; you could replace Komura with any lovesick, awkward male protagonist and Mie is unique in her own right, but also outside of her glasses, we know nothing else that makes her stand out or even why Komura is into her.
Then there’s the comedy, and despite this being a subjective thing, I didn’t find this volume to be particularly humorous. There are cute moments and some amusing set-ups but comedy-wise, there’s nothing here that will make you laugh out loud. So far, the story is very tame, and the set-ups are what you’d expect from something like this (not able to read textbooks, mistaking one person for another, etc). The story also just focuses on the main pair, so there’s no side characters to bounce the pair off of, which a lot of successful romcoms rely on not only to keep the main couple well rounded but also bring other comedic energy to keep the story fresh.
It should be noted that despite Square Enix website states that the book is 192 pages, Volume 1 is actually 130 pages long, including the translation notes at the back. The chapters are also all very short and bleed into each other, with odd breaks within the chapter – many would have benefitted from being one chapter instead of 2 small ones – so if you’re a fast reader, you’ll blast through this book quickly.
Koume Fujichika has written dozens of manga series, a lot of them comedy and romance-centred, but this series is so far the only one that has been given an English release. Sawa Matsueda Savage is better known for translating anime series such as Amagi Brilliant Park and Akiba Maid War but has many manga and even video game credits under her belt, including the Wotakoi manga series and Something’s Wrong with Us. Overall, her translation is easy to read and does a good job of translating Mie’s unusual speech patterns across the book.
This ‘awkward dorks falling in love’ romcom has some promise, but so far feels a bit undercooked. Hopefully it’ll pick up in future volumes but right now this thinner-than-usual book doesn’t make a lasting impression.
Check out a preview of the first volume here.
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