Most of you might not know about this manga, so I guess a synopsis is due.
Love Rush is about a boy named Reiji, who has a condition that leads any women/girls who he happens to meet to be head over heels for him. They see the man of their dreams in him, although he isn’t. Overall, Reiji doesn’t care about all those who’re head over heals for him, since they only harbor those feelings due to said condition, which bothers him greatly, hence he keeps turning down any- and everyone. After his 18th birthday, the queen (or was it princess?) of cupids, Kokoro – who seems to already know him-, descends from the sky to make her move on Reiji and marry him. However, a whole load of other monsters have had their eyes on him too, and so begins the “battle” for his hand.
When I started reading this manga, I wasn’t aware that it had already been cancelled. After the first two chapters, however, I already knew: “Yeah, this isn’t gonna make it far.” Although I’m a huge rom-com fan and rom-com manga (!) is rather rare, it failed to fascinate right from the start. I’ll take the opportunity to dwell on where it came short.
Manga is about pictures, that’s the stuff you’re looking at most of the time. Even though in my opinion the story’s the more important aspect, it’s hard to immerse yourself into a manga if you’re looking at crappy art all the time. Curiously, there’s art that doesn’t age well (Rosario to Vampire, check out volume 1) and there’s art that does age well (Love Hina). Love Rush is flexing its muscles in that regard. It’s fairly detailed, has nice backgrounds, and basic shadowing which serves its purpose. The author knows the 101 of character expressions and utilizes it in all the right places; never does anything feel wrong about the way the characters are depicted. Alas, the sole disappointment lies within the character design itself.
The main heroine looks like she’s from the 70s. The other harem members don’t have anything special about them either. Although they’re supposed to be a cupid, succubus, and whatnot, they look blunt and undistinctive (as in: like character designs you’ve seen before). Worse yet, they don’t look appealing. Kind of like a childish version of The World God Only Knows. Volume 2 of Love Rush has an alternate version of the first three chapters in the back. I’m pretty sure those are the chapters the author won a certain contest with, which got him serialized in the first place. Funny enough, the art’s considerably different in a good way, and I enjoyed them much more thanks to that. Looking more adult and kind of close to Nisekoi in style, the characters have more appeal and it doesn’t look like a gag manga anymore. Oddly enough, even the humor packs a better punch in that “first” version. Long story short: It’s a matter of taste anyway, but in my opinion the author worsened the art style in his revision; nonetheless it’s at least decent – even in the serialized version – and the art’s the manga’s smallest problem – if not its upside.
Now we’re getting to the real problems. The characters aren’t exactly bad, but they’re far from good. Just a bunch of personalities you’ve seen a thousand times before. The main heroine is a super-dere klutz, his childhood friend the cool pokerface, then joins a super-shy succubus with her bangs almost covering her face (she’s shy, after all, amirite?), and last a haughty tsun-dere wolf girl. I can buy the protagonists reason for turning everyone down (they’re only all over him ’cause of his condition and he’s in love with his childhood friend), although I don’t think any healthy high school boy would give a sh*t, but this heroine assemble is just too uninspired and shallow to make for interesting twists or funny stories. They lack uniqueness and soul, they’re interchangeable. Going by the big doublepage at the start of the story, the author was likely going to throw in a whole harem of different monster girls, but you need quality in the quantity, or – well – you won’t make it that far – To Love-RU shows how it’s done, even with no story at all.
Last but not least, the worst part. The story’s point is supposed to be that the protagonist has a condition which makes girls get the hots for him for now apparent reason. If the author would’ve focused on that alone, it would’ve been enough and probably better. But no, he really, really wanted monster girls in this. And so his condition is more of a bait to keep you reading. This manga is actually just about monster girls, and monster girls alone. His “condition” doesn’t really play a part in the story, it’s just an excuse for why monster girls would want him, but everyone’s just acting like heroines do act towards a rom-com protagonist anyway, so what’s the point? Yeah, especially in the beginning and even after that there’s like one koma per chapter where some strangers say: “My, he’s so handsome.” But it never plays a major role. He might as well just be the unawakened descendant of a mighty demon lord, that’d serve this manga’s purpose better, probably. No use in thinking up an interesting setting/condition if you’re going to ignore it. Even worse, the build-up in this manga. Virtually, it goes like this: Page one explains his condition, next page he’s chased by girls, then main heroine falls from the sky, she fawns on him, he runs away, all the monsters turn up, build-up end, welcome to Love Rush. I’m not kidding, all of that literally happens in the first chapter. That kinda feels a bit rushed, doesn’t it? As if the author didn’t want to bother with the beginning; or maybe more like, “F*ck the why and how, I wanna draw slice of life with monster girls!” And as you might’ve noticed by now, there are monster girls everywhere all of a sudden. Don’t you think that people’d kinda care or be considerably surprised at least? Nope. Having someone with angel wings or a succubus and all standing in front of you apparently doesn’t really faze anyone. Ever. “Oh, look, an army of monsters. K.”
All in all, Love Rush has a great setting, or at least half a great setting, and fairly good art, all of it wasted in mediocre character design, boring personalities, and – I dunno how to put it nicer – an inability to tell or come up with an interesting story. You might as well read it since there are hardly any rom-coms on the manga market and it got axed after 9 chapters (or so) anyway, so it’s a fast read, but you won’t be sad once it’s over. The ending reeks of cliche, too. It just embodies mediocrity.
I’d really like to see the author collaborating with someone who knows how to tell a story. I mean, look at the pictures, he knows his stuff. To Love-RU does the same, and over 30 volumes should be proof enough that it’s not the wrongest of ways.